I was powerfully tired this afternoon, in a way that I usually am by the third week of the Fringe except this time I hadn’t even done a show. It’s been a crazy few months of stress, work and exercise and perhaps it’s not surprising that it’s all getting to me. But I was wondering if the late night start for my stand up show would be a good idea. I felt like I’d much rather be in bed. On top of this I was fretting a bit about the fact that I might have chosen a bad year to try out doing two massive shows. Ticket sales are sluggish and whilst I never expected to sell out the 500 seater George Square Theatre, I ‘d hoped that I’d be in triple figures for all shows. But that’s not going to be the case. Only about 50 people had paid to see the show tonight. It’s early days and Edinburgh seems unusually quiet, but that’s not a great sign (though looking back to last year I didn't have many more than that in for the first night and that wored out OK, so we'll see). I had hoped that the stand up would offset some of the loss made by the play, but perhaps it will just add to the loss. It’s mildly depressing that after such a long time of being up here I am still reliant on good reviews and word of mouth to get a crowd and at times (as is the case every year as you’ll know if you’ve been following this for a while) I think that maybe it’s time to just knock coming to the Fringe on the head. It’s certainly getting more difficult for the acts in the middle. The free fringe at one end and the top TV names at the other are probably more appealing or less risky than taking a punt on someone you’ve only vaguely heard of. But even if you want to do that then there’s an awful lot of choice. Perhaps there are less financially devastating options for trying out new shows and if I stay at home I can charge myself thousands of pounds a month in rent and then come out with a profit.
As it happened the small audience were lovely and I didn’t let the empty seats get to me and performed as if the place was full. It was a largely crisp and solid performance and I only needed my notes for the new surprise end and to check out the changed running order. I kept things a little bit loose and had some fun - claiming that it was nice that there was one audience member for every year I had been at the Fringe and that at this rate I’d only have to keep coming until 2487 to fill this theatre and pointing out the subtle themes of the show for any reviewers in the crowd. I think I have created two great shows for this Fringe and this was the best opening night performance that I can remember. It would be great if other people felt the same and the word spread and we got at least a half full theatre for both, but if not then I am still pleased with what I have achieved. Maybe I won’t ever get the recognition that I feel that my stuff perhaps deserves, or maybe it doesn’t deserve that level of recognition. But I am still here, still fighting, still producing stuff that challenges me. The deadline of Edinburgh does help me create this stuff, but I have to consider the fact that it might not be the best place for me to display my wares anymore. Why take a new thing to a place where 1000s of other people are also about to premiere their new thing? How many great shows pass by unnoticed just because of the sheer weight of numbers?
My show is about daftness and glee and enjoying life for its own sake and performing it tonight chased away my own tiredness and grumpiness. As always these blogs are an attempt to capture my mood, not me feeling sorry for myself or asking for sympathy. I am in a way luckier position than most people in my profession and I am totally aware that there is plenty of time for things to sway one way or the other. I should be used to the emotional roller coaster by now, but every year they add a new and unexpected dip to the thing and it always catches me out. This year I have all the actors to think about too and they are doing such a fantastic job on the play that I would hate to think that hardly anyone gets to see what they’re doing. Ah the wonderful jeopardy of the Edinburgh Fringe. Is this all you’ve got Edinburgh? I’ve ridden out a quarter of a decade of your shit. You think this is going to make me stop?
It might make me stop to be honest, but not until the end of next month.
Show one of the 2014 Fringe is done. I am very happy with it. I am pretty certain that at some point during this physical show I will do myself an injury (on top of the big scar I already have on my leg) - my top bet is a twisted knee, but I might also crack a rib or get concussion or screw up an ankle. But the first show is done and I am still able to walk. So that’s a positive.