day 23: a typically good day

Up until the last few days, I’ve done pretty well so far to keep the days separate and distinct, so that very few of them became ‘typical’.

But if the last few days were becoming fairly typical bad days, yesterday was typical of the kind of good days I was having for the first two weeks. I did four really good performances at four nice shows, and spent the evening with lovely people.

The lunchtime gig went nicely; Jay finished his set with ‘Moon Chavs’ – it’s his most well-known hit, it ends in a big singalong and before the festival I would have been uncertain about whether I could have followed it. But I started getting laughs pretty much straight away, turned in a strong performance and finished the gig happy.

There was just time for me to stop very briefly for coffee with Bobby Carroll and Luke Graves before going to the Beehive to do the Comedy Manifesto, which was packed out as usual. I was probably the slickest I’ve ever been there (though I didn’t have answers to all the questions) and Jools and I won the show.

It also gave me just enough time for a pleasant walk across town with Rob Deb, whose show I will have missed this year for the first time in four years (because it clashes with our evening show), to get to the Grape.

The Grape is where Katerina Vrana and Sarah Pearce are doing an afternoon show, and it is possibly the worst room for comedy I have ever seen. The idea that Peter Buckley Hill was given an award yesterday for booking comedy shows in rooms like The Grape is unbelievable; poor Katerina should be given that award for having to compere in there throughout the festival. It feels like a hotel foyer bar (because, as Dan McKee pointed out, it is a hotel foyer bar), there is a noisy restaurant bar just the other side of a curtain, the ceilings are ridiculously high so all the laughs disappear, and there are enormous shiny pillars around the place. I got a few laughs for pointing out that the high ceilings and the shiny pillars make it look like a giant’s poledancing club, and then gyrated around the pillars in a way that I can only assume looked funny because I, a human being, am relatively tiny in comparison with a poledancing giant. But it was the kind of gig where most of the audience weren’t going to laugh anyway, so there was nothing to lose. I even did my ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ bit for the three or four people who loved it; it was just fun to play for them.

And then our evening gig was just incredible. The audience were really up for a great show; Henry Paker was a great opener, and I went on right after him and had an absolute stormer. Everything went right; my timing and wording of the jokes was spot-on; basically, I was on fire. I was so hot, in fact, that just as I was about to deliver my last line, the fire alarms went off and we had to evacuate the building…

I went and had dinner with my Mum after the show, who was stopping by on her way back home from Iona; it was really good to see her, and especially good that we had dinner at the Balmoral Hotel, which was the first properly nice food I’ve had in ages.

After putting my Mum on the sleeper train back to London, I had a slight feeling of sadness as I walked home; I realised that I’d had a pretty good day, but there are still very few people in Edinburgh I could really tell about it. There are one or two people that I’ve got on really well with; possibly even too well, because I’ll miss them when the festival is over; but I really wanted to talk to somebody outside the festival and I had a feeling that Nan would be too busy with her dissertation and I didn’t want to disturb her.

So I called my friend Natalie, who is (and always has been) some kind of genius at knowing exactly what to say; I was so cheered up after talking to her that instead of going home I stopped at the Meadow Bar where I ran into a whole bunch of lovely comedians and got to watch Michal Grobelny perform one of the most brilliantly, gloriously confrontational sets I have ever seen. He was wearing a baseball shirt and cap, and mentioned backstage that people had been asking him all day if he was American, so he was going to be American for the show. And after the previous act had bored the room into silence, Michal bounded onstage yelling “HEY, YOU FUCKIN’ FAGGOTS!” and then howled out one of the most willfully obnoxious and distasteful sets I think I’ve ever seen, largely just shouting at a Scottish man in the front row about how much he hated Scotland and Scottish people and wished they would all fuck off. About two people in the room got it, the rest just sat in shocked silence.

It was genuinely glorious.

And, after a trip to the Library Bar that was probably ill-advised, I went home a bit drunk and no longer unhappy.

CTD: Audience – good, most seats full; Performance – solid and strong (7/10)

The Comedy Manifesto: Audience – jammed as usual, people sitting on the floor…; Performance – winning (7.5/10)

Comedy at the Grape: Audience – about 40 people, in a room which made it feel half-empty; Performance – not heavy on laughs, but lots of fun and as good as could be expected (7/10)

SSS: Audience – full; Performance – best yet…until the fire alarms went off, and then I got the biggest walk-out ever (8/10)

Other stuff: Mostly pretty good

Overall: WIN

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