I was just starting up the final routine in my show, with 5 minutes to go before the end when I heard one of the tech’s walkie-talkies crackling with conversation. It was slightly distracting and I was surprised that any of my excellent crew could make such a basic error, but these things happen and I tried to regain focus and shout over it. Seconds later the walkie talkie blared with chatter again and carried on for a little while. I now had to ask if it was possible to turn it off, but my mind was beginning to click together and I realised that there might be some emergency. Sure enough Lauren, who is running my room then came on to stage to inform us that there was a fire alarm going off and we’d have to leave the building.
“Will we be coming back in?” I asked.
“It depends,” I was told, but I quickly realised that the logistics of getting 320 evacuated people back to their seats were too complex. I had been heading for the finish and the orgasm of applause, but had had to pull out and stop what I was doing. It was bizarrely unsettling. I was disappointed that this very receptive audience wasn’t going to get to see the end of the show, but also realised that there would be no Scope collection. And with a 2 for 1 crowd people usually feel like they can give a bit more.
The whole of the Pleasance Courtyard was being evacuated and so me and my audience shuffled slowly towards the exit. I couldn’t help thinking that the risk of injury in doing this was greater than the likely false alarm that we were escaping. Hundreds of people were being moved out on to the street and into the road. As I always assess everywhere I am for the likelihood of terrorist attack (and the new barriers up on the Royal Mile show that I am not the only one who is considering this possibility), I thought this was also a foolish exit policy. Not that I know what the alternative is.
I joked with my audience about whether this was all part of the show, as we watched fire engines arrive, firemen go into the building and then leave again pretty quickly. I had to admit that this was a better denouement than what I had planned.
Eventually the venue opened again, but of course we weren’t going to reconvene. That audience would never find out how the show ended. Would they ask for refunds? I hoped not - they had got most of the show after all and at a cut down price. But to not have been allowed to complete the hour left me discombobulated and slightly sad. And it was a shame to miss out on the charity money and the book sales and the chance to meet the audience. Mainly though, it just felt wrong not to complete the show. I had wondered about trying to do it out on the street, but there was no way that could have worked.
Finally I got my coat and signed a couple of programmes of people who had drifted back to the foyer, but then went home.
This is Edinburgh of course. But a real shame. It was a false alarm, which is both good and bad, isn’t it? I mean, if it had been a real fire then at least that would have justified it.
It gave everyone an extra bit of Fringe experience, but it was as disappointing as a middle-aged orgasm from my point of view.
It had been a fun day apart from that. For some reason I had been included in the Radio Times poll for Comedy Champion. I hadn’t been aware of it initially, but had got through to round 2 when someone tweeted about it. I assumed as a relative unknown I would be knocked out quite quickly and didn’t pay much attention, but I got through another round. In round 4 I was beating Tom Davis easily, until he rallied his Twitter troops and got from 70/30 down to a Brexit like slim lead. So acknowledging that the whole contest is meaningless and pointless and open to people multiple voting and setting up robots to gore for them, I still got my Twitter followers to fight back and I took the big man down.
It was surely all academic anyway as the winner would get to face Ricky Gervais in the semi-final. In spite of his Emmy’s and BAFTAs he was clearly interested in winning, tweeting his 12 million followers about the vote every now and again, asking for them to save their votes for the final.
However to my amusement and delight the early votes went to me and I was 91% to 9% up at one point. Clearly this made a mockery of everything, but it was exciting to think my 200,000 followers might defeat his army of 12 million. And all those years ago when I’d been so unreasonable as to suggest people thought about what they were doing before they used disablist language (and could then use it if they so wished) and had endured a three day constant attack of being called a spastic and a mong by Gervais’ followers, it would be sweet revenge if my tiny band of nerds proved more persistent than his. In this contest with no prize and more fraud and interference than a US election.
I am certain in the couple of days that remain Gervais will flex his little finger and send his hordes to destroy me, but it was pretty hilarious to end the day 80% to his 20%.
If I can somehow win this semi-final then the Herring trajectory has to be that I then go on to lose in the final to Jason Manford. But I can live with that. If you want to influence the meaningless vote, that still holds a strange David and Goliath resonance (or at least a Dick and bigger Dick one) then head here.
Ended the day with watching Game of Thrones and the two new episodes of Rick and Morty. Pickle Rick!