If I got nothing else from this Fringe (and I am not sure that I did) then at least I got this nice photo of me looking like a Mafia don (according to my wife). There are some cracking photos in that collection from the amazing Idil Sukan.
I am at least ending the Fringe feeling less knackered and ill than ever before. I haven’t even succumbed to any illness all month, which is quite remarkable. And today I managed what will no doubt be my last trip to the Edinburgh gym in 2014, but it’s very unusual for me to have that kind of energy.
I appeared on Jack Dee’s Help Desk this evening, a neat little format in which a panel of comedians suggests solutions to the audience’s problems. It was a fun, non-competitive and entirely improvised hour which created a lot of laughs. It would obviously make a great TV show. It led to some funny chats about being cabbaged and the danger of putting cat flaps in for your mum (any old lady from the street can make her way into your house to eat an extra dinner).
My final Saturday show went well and there were a couple of hundred in, which any other year would have been disappointing, but this year was one of my biggest crowds. After I was done I had to dash across town to take part on Best of the Fest at the Assembly Rooms on George Street. This is a gig that I have done most years over the last decade, but I have rarely had a good one here. In fact I might only have had bad ones. The most memorably being possibly my worst ever gig when I was drunk and followed Rhys Darby. I ran through the streets to get there and got there in time to have a beer and to listen to Stephen K Amos who was going down brilliantly. After my gig at the Edinburgh Playhouse at the start of the Fringe I felt I should be OK in front of an audience that didn’t know me, as long as they were up for some filth.
Martin Mor whipped them up further as the compere and then brought me on and I went down about as well as a lingering fart. I am not sure what I did wrong. They didn’t like my enemy’s enemy joke (tellingly not laughing at all at the line about there being no point in having a philosophy if you change it halfway through your life based on some new evidence) and then I perhaps arrogantly told them that I would thus have to do rude stuff (it made no difference how they reacted, I would have done the same material anyway). But they didn’t really go for the rude stuff, and were even a bit shocked by it. It was late at night and near the end of the Fringe and maybe they were tired. Who knows? I love the way the audience can sometimes react like a single organism. They and decided they didn’t really care for me in the first minute and there wasn’t going to be much I could do to turn it around. Dying on stage is quite a rarity for me these days and I actually quite enjoyed being placed in this predicament. I decided to see if I could whip them into reaction by addressing this head on. I told them that I was good and had been doing the job a long time, so they should relax and enjoy my act. It almost worked, but didn’t quite. So I decided to push it further and tell them that this was actually their fault and that the other audiences liked me. It amused me (which is the point, right) and it was perhaps the perfect mediocre almost finale to a weird Fringe. Like the city’s spirit was seeping up from its medieval underground, infecting its present-day citizens so they could tell me that I need to take a break. To be honest, I’d got that message already. I tried to fake a breakdown, pleaded for pity, prompted them to laugh at my final joke. It was a more interesting gig than it would have been if I’d done my set, but I had sucked the atmosphere out of the place. Not the worst gig I’ve done for Best of the Fest. In fact maybe the best. But still pretty awful.