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Tuesday 29th July 2014

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One day to go and optimism and pessimism are fighting in a bear pit. I watched the first half of the tech of “I Killed Rasputin” and it’s looking great, with fine performances and great directorial flourishes. Then I asked how many tickets we’d sold for the first performance on Thursday. I knew it was likely to be low, but was surprised by how low. It’s still early days and it’s not time to lose heart or start projecting the financial impact, but I have to accept that even at my 23rd Fringe my name alone is not enough to sell tickets. There is still more than enough time to turn this potential disaster into a triumph and my main worry wasn’t the impact on my bank balance, just that all these months of hard work by me and everyone involved would go unremarked. Weeks ago I had feared that the play would not be finished or would not be good, now the paranoia kicks in that it might be good, but no one will notice.
I am determined to enjoy this Fringe whatever happens. It has smacked me in the mouth enough times before and yet here I still am. It doesn’t feel like people have realised the thing is starting yet. I will stay as positive as a man clinging on to a cliff by his fingertips can do. Like a Russian Tsar I can sit in a massive theatre alone every afternoon enjoying a performance put on only for me. Things will surely improve, but ah, the white hot terror is something to experience. If you’re in town and planning to see the play, why not come to one of the first couple of performances? It’s only a tenner for previews.
Gugus, our puppet dog, has been taking a bit of a battering. Already his eyes and jaws have stopped moving and today one of his front legs fell off. Hopefully he’ll be back to full fitness by the first night, but his disabilities made him cuter than ever. Though I hope he can keep all his limbs in actual performance. It’s rare that an actor can upstage another by losing body parts. But it’s a great trick if you manage it.
I haven’t even asked about Lord of the Dance Settee sales yet. I am hoping that in a reversal of Fringe trends my stand up show is going to financially assist my play, but probably the only thing that will get me through this month without going insane is to view all the money spent so far as gone and any that comes back as a result. But if you see me doing any adverts in the next year, you’ll know why.
Even if my whole next stand up tour is required to pay the debt, then it’s been worth it.
And it’s much too early to start fretting yet. Let’s dance into the abyss.
Learning nothing I have already started thinking about my next play and fate lent me a hand. It’s about an alternate timeline where World War 2 turned out differently and I had been wondering what aspect of the war I could change to see a victory for the Nazis. Within an hour I passed a charity shop with a book in the window about that very subject. The child who operates the video game of my life is determinedly nudging me towards bankruptcy, but what can I do? I am just some pixels being operated by a psychopath who hates me. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I did my Lord of the Dance Settee tech at 10pm (having kindly donated an hour of my time to some rubbish play about Rasputin) and my official dance settee has arrived. I had specified that I wanted it firm enough to jump and dance on, but not let them know that I would be sitting on the back of it at one point, so the crew needed to bolster it with bits of wood. The first time I tried to jump up on it I very nearly twisted my ankle as the cushions overhung the frame. At the end we realised that the cushion part of the settee had been put in upside down, but I still feel it’s very likely that I will hurt myself on the eponymous star of my show. The fact that it’s inevitable doesn’t seem to make me want to rethink. 
I know this Fringe will end in pain. The best I can hope for is that the pain is mild.
I have finally realised, as I write this,  that I am a masochist and that I enjoy being physically and mentally battered. No wonder I keep returning to the Fringe. 



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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be touring from October 2014 to May 2015 All details here.
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