day 3: 6/10

Edinburgh intensifies context.

Whatever the normal feelings you have about your artistic achievements, they are always within certain contexts: how your show compares with the previous day, how your performance compares with that of others, where you fit into the landscape of that artform as a whole, etc. Normally, of course, that happens quite slowly.

But here – where you are doing several shows a day in a small city heaving with other shows – those contexts become intensified, magnified. A few years back, a friend of mine, whose first year in stand-up had been phenomenally promising, apparently did an Edinburgh run where she didn’t quite do as well in the first few days as other acts in the same show, lost confidence which never returned, and gave up comedy shortly afterwards. Everything she did during that festival was placed so starkly in the context of how they had done in their first year and and how other acts did. It was a tragic loss.

So when I say that yesterday was a 6/10, and I felt pretty good about it, that is largely because of the context of the previous day. Tony woke me up with a cheery good morning and some coffee, which was nice; the first proper ‘Circling the Drain’ show was a technical shambles but I didn’t forget any of my lines (which was my biggest worry) and got a few good laughs; and even two of my ex-students turned up to see the show, which was wonderful, especially because of the slightly surreal fact that one of them seemed to spend the duration of the show knitting. Brecht said you should always smoke cigars in the theatre because the slight distraction detaches you slightly from the performance and allows you to make a better judgment of it. Perhaps knitting is the new cigar-chomping.

I spent a big chunk of the afternoon getting prepared for the evening show and then that went much better than yesterday. Rik Moore opened the evening show with his usual charm and genuinely brilliant use of ‘found’ comedy; that set me up nicely to do some ‘found’ stuff of my own, ie my bit about petitions to the Prime Minister, and my ‘sandwiches’ bit which I’ve always liked but got a slightly more muted response than I was hoping for last night. It needs more punchlines. Loz did very well again, and then Nat Luurtsema headlined. She is absolutely lovely and very very funny, but it’s possible that she suffered from the same problem that myself and Mike Wozniak had the previous night – ie that following Lawrence’s songs is very very difficult. He finishes with the whole audience singing the theme from the ‘Bodyform’ adverts and loving it, and to come on and just talk to people after that is hard…See, it’s all about context.

After that, we went out. I laughed, but for some reason I’m feeling generally insecure around everyone this year, even people I like. I don’t really know why that is. Still, as an evening it was nice. At least, it was okay until me and Loz came home and put the computer football on. Then he beat me 4-1 and I decided it was time to go to bed.

In the context of a much better day though, I didn’t mind that so much…

CTD: Audience – Small (20); Performance – competent, with some good laughs (6/10)

SSS: Audience – Almost Full; Performance – competent, with some good laughs (6/10)

Other stuff: Generally fun

Overall: WIN

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