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Wednesday 2nd April 2014

4147/17066

And my April weigh-in sees me dipping under 87Kg for the first time in a while. Just. I was 86.9kg when I got home from this leg of the tour. I thought I might have lost more as my tour suit jacket is now ridiculously baggy and I've been keeping up the diet very well on the road, but that's 2.2kg down on the month and 8.5kg down on the year (and 10kg lighter than I weighed at the doctors in December). I am two fifths of my way to the BMI recommended 72kilos with only a quarter of the year gone.  I suspect progress will slow down this month, but so far so good. I feel like I can keep this up.

The last day of this seven day run of tour gigs (though I am off to Margate on Friday) and it turned out to be an eventful day. I had slept pretty well, but was still feeling tired. I managed to pay in over £850 worth of coins from the SCOPE collection into the bank, though this was probably only half of what we've taken in the last week. I am not strong enough to carry it all on the 15 minute walk. I set a target of £25,000 for this show and we're getting close. If you missed the buckets then you can donate at my justgiving page. I will be setting up a new page for the next show soon, if you want to get your name in the programme. Your money is making a huge difference for a fantastic charity, so thanks to everyone who has given.

I had hoped to do some work or some reading in the car on the long drive to Shrewsbury, but I was too weary and maybe it's too much to expect me to have energy in the day when I am exerting myself at night.

We got to the theatre at 4.30, a little bit early, but I was surprised when the man at the box office made a bit of a fuss about this, saying we weren't expected until 5.30 so only grudgingly allowing us into the car park and then downright refusing to let us into the dressing rooms. I have never experienced this in a quarter of century of playing theatres. Sometimes you arrive and there's no one at the venue yet, so obviously you have to wait to be let in. But the venue was open and staffed and there were barely any punters around, so it seemed to be a little bit jobsworth to not let us go and sit backstage while we waited for our techs to arrive. I was tired and tetchy and tweeted about the predicament. I wasn't being too much of a diva. I don't expect much at all from a venue, but it seemed foolish to be so petty as to refuse to open a door.

Within a few minutes someone turned up to let us into our room, apologising for the inconvenience. And the theatre manager then showed up to apologise as well, explaining that obviously when a big show is coming in that they have to have proscribed times for entry, but that the staff member had been over zealous to not allow some leeway. I felt a bit bad for having caused a minor fuss, but then again, it had been a bit of a slight. But all was well and forgiven (hopefully on both sides). Would I be rewarded by the staff taking their revenge on me and wrecking the show?

I don't think so.

But perhaps.

Because a few minutes into a show, feeling a bit tired and stuttery and not yet firing on all cylinders, I said the line, "Unless you believe in the after life, in which case grow up," when with perfect timing the power in the room completely gave out. We were plunged into darkness and my microphone wasn't working. There was some nervous laughter and I confessed that maybe I had been mistaken to be so dismissive. It seemed too good to be true that this was an accident and for a second I thought that the box office man was exacting revenge. "Perhaps we're all dead," said a voice from the darkness. This was certainly a possibility. Or had Shrewsbury been hit by some kind of nuclear attack (it's surely at the top of all countries' hit-lists) or the theatre was on fire. I was thrown enough by the coincidence to forget what came next and to jokily worry about God finally having come for his revenge. Ironically it was just the kind of incident to enliven a slightly flat gig. The lights came back on, but the mic was still out, but luckily the acoustics in the room were excellent and I managed to carry on by just speaking up a bit. I asked the technician if it was going to come back on, but he said that the power in the whole building had gone and it would take a few minutes for the sound to return. Again it wasn't ideal, but I pushed onwards, still a little thrown, commenting that if God was upset with that remark then He'd be furious with some of the stuff that was coming up.

Indeed, as I was approaching the bit about bumming God I was totally planning on saying, "If the lights go out now then we'll know it's definitely God," but again with staggering timing as soon as I had said, "bumming God" and before I could toss in the ad-lib the lights again failed. This time the laughter was huge and immediate and I was properly freaked out. It's like I'd turned out the lights with my mind like I was some kind of a Richard Burton in the Medusa Touch. This time I was almost certain it had to be a gag from the tech, but it wasn't. I could see him working furiously to restore power, beneath his emergency light. I suggested that it might be difficult to do the show with no sound or lights, especially with the very visual bit I was doing. If God was doing this though he was really helping the gig along. The crowd were now right on side. Though even with my rational brain I was a bit amazed by the coincidence and wondered for the second time in a week if what was happening on stage was actually just a dream. This is exactly the kind of thing that occurs when a performer dreams of a terrible show.

The mic came back on first, followed by the lights. I commented that God had left it awfully late in the run to get annoyed by this material and that just turning off the lights and sounds wasn't quite the plague based vengeance that he usually took. I challenged him to make the lighting rig fall on me during the next part of the show. And gingerly stood beneath it. I confess that a couple of times in the show I avoided being in that spot, but God decided He'd made his point and disappeared off to orchestrate an earth quake or tsunami or something elsewhere in the world. He has His hands full and He can't be everywhere at once.

It was a much better show for all this and having had the bejesus scared out of me gave me the necessary adrenaline rush to up my game and sharpen the performance up. Before too long we were on the road home. It was great to be back and in one piece (and have no stage-light embedded in my head). My wife and cats were pleased to see me and I them.

But it's been a fun week and it went fast and I am glad that if there is a God He has a sense of humour. Even if part of the joke is me burning in flames for all eternity.

The Pointless Celebrities that I recorded earlier this year will be on on April 26th. Tune in to see how I got on and whether I finally win a TV quiz show trophy.



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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be on at the George Sq Theatre at 10.45pm every night of the Edinburgh Fringe Buy tickets here.
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