If I had forgotten how exhausting the Fringe gets then I was reminded today. I managed a bit of a sleep in which gave me false confidence that all would be OK, but by 5.30 I was sitting next to my daughter, who I was in sole charge of, wondering if I could get away with just closing my eyes for ten minutes, as long as I kept my arm round her so would be woken if she moved. I decided against it. She was two and a half today but she’s not quite ready to be left to her own devices by a decrepit old parent.
Catie and me had been to see Ahir Shah this afternoon at the Cabaret Voltaire and it was a brilliant show about Brexit and racism and sour milk. I was aware that I was yawning, but it was remarkable that I wasn’t asleep. That’s how engaging the show was. It can keep a fucked elderly man from his much needed afternoon nap.
My own show was a bit weird. There were some chatty and I presume rather pissed guys towards the back, whose loud whispers to each other were distracting, but always came at points where I couldn’t break off to tell them to shut up. And every time I got to a good place to chastise them they were quiet. They kept getting up to go to the loo (I presume) and I could see other audience members bristling. But on top of this I was tired and though I gave a good account of the material I kept realising that I had left a little bit out here and there. Nothing too crucial to begin with. But as I got towards the end I realised (or was pretty sure) that I had forgotten to do the whole second half of my favourite routine. And that I really needed to do it as the pay off was the final line of the show. So whilst I was doing one routine my brain was trying to work out if I needed to go back and revisit the earlier one or if there was a way to finish without it, whilst also scrabbling to make sure that I hadn’t actually done the bit I thought I hadn’t done, but had just forgotten.
I just about got away with it and I have to say some of the stuff in this show was the best that I have done it. But it was annoying (and mildly worrying) that the show had almost self-destructed in this way. I am sure it’s down to tiredness and the brain relaxing a bit as the Fringe progresses, but when you’re doing a show about ageing then you worry it might be some sign of atrophy. If I hadn’t been so tired I might have been able to incorporate this thought and make it all appear that it was part of the show. But I snuck the second half of the routine in just before the final big routine and more or less got away with it.
I felt like I’d been in a fight with a University lecturer by the end of it though and would dearly have liked to go to bed, but I was doing an extra gig at Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick (a good 50 minutes drive away) so I jumped in a waiting car and was off. My stage clothes were a bit stinky and I was trying to process the weird gig that I’d just had, whilst working out what to do at the next one.
Luckily by the time I got on stage in front of the rather middle-aged an genteel audience I had pulled myself together a bit. They weren’t rowdy or drunk, but I kept away from my more challenging material (though even my clean stuff is pretty filthy).
All the acts came back in the same car and it was fun having chatting with them whilst drinking a can of Stella. This counts as my social life!
It was all a little bit too much and this extra gig, although lovely (and nice to earn some extra money) probably came at exactly the wrong time. RHEFP with James Acaster tomorrow
(still a handful of tickets left, but only cos they have increased the venue capacity from 350 to 400 - woo hoo) so I can’t have an afternoon nap then either.
Next week is Iain Stirling and maybe another and I am looking into putting in an extra podcast in the final week. Because even after writing all of this, I have learned nothing about taking on too much!
Still having a lot of fun. Just been reminded of why the Fringe gets harder as you go on and why the final week gets so difficult. And it's harder when you're older.