No fire engines tonight, but I did manage to sharpen up the end of the show a bit, even though it was mainly nice just to do it. As the days go by I have more ideas of how to incorporate running jokes and I found a satisfying topper to one of them today as I almost totally changed the closing monologue.
A nice four star review on Chortle
seemed disappointed with the postman story, although the point of it really is that it isn’t the exciting fight with a punch and a punchline that I had 10 years ago. And thus in its anti-climax it sums up what I have been talking about for the previous hour. But it was still useful to have that expressed by someone, even if I didn’t totally agree (or disagree) with it (I think he maybe saw a night where I botched the story a bit anyway) and I made some changes to highlight my intentions. Weirdly a month ago I was on the point of dropping a couple of the routines that are now the stronger ones in the show. I found my way through to make them work, and I will continue to attempt to improve everything I am doing.
I know it’s important to have a show that is ready at the start of the run and this one, I think, is in very good shape, but all my shows develop over the Fringe and then the tour. Everything should always be a work in progress. Or should never stop being one. But it means that my reviews nearly always come near the beginning of the process when there will definitely be significant changes. I wondered about touring the show first and ending at the Edinburgh Fringe next time, but it would feel strange and be difficult to make a 90 minute show into a 60 minute one. And ultimately it’s not about the reviews. Would my shows be better if I gave up all the other stuff and concentrated only on the stand up (as Bennett implies)? I am not sure they would be. And I am certain I wouldn’t have the stand up audience I have if I wasn’t doing the podcasts. I spread myself as thin as is possible this year, but in some ways the focus required to do this has led me to come up with some of my strongest stuff. I am not sure more time would have made much difference. But it’s still an interesting conundrum. If the reviewers came at the end of the tour (which would obviously make their reviews next to worthless) then would they be better?
For me, even though there’s a part of me that would love 5 star reviews and acknowledgement of my genius, mostly the important thing is to create a good show and then work on improving it at every performance until you stop doing it. And tonight was great because I made some significant strides forwards in lots of the routines. It was another (two for one) sell out, and the audience were a little slow to come on side, but I had also been a bit stressed by another late start and the lackadaisical attitude of the techs who worked on the previous show who had no sense of urgency in getting their many props and lights off the stage so I could get on with my show. If we had started on time last night then I would have finished my show and Scope would have got their money and I would have sold a few Emergency Questions books. So maybe that’s why I was annoyed enough to actually say something to them this time.
It had been a busy day. I’d had a swim, thought about going in the steam room, but deciding not to go through the Mr Benn door that can lead to wanks from strangers (imagine the shame if no one wanted to wank me) and then headed off to take part in a panel show revolving around birthdays. The host greeted me by voicing his suspicion that I had stolen one of his life stories and sold it to Eddie Izzard. He had made this leap due to the fact that Izzard told a story very similar to one of his own and that I used to drink in the same bar as the host in Balham, so might have overheard it. He wasn’t cross about it, just curious, but it was an odd way to be introduced. Comedians don’t tend to steal other people’s stuff and if they do they don’t tend to sell it to other comedians. But no, I don’t think anyone writes for Eddie Izzard, but I never have.
The birthday game itself was slapdash but fun and as I was on a team with Mark Steel who seemed very good at guessing people’s ages, we ended up victorious. Despite the brooding resentments of the host, who I think still suspected I had stolen from him.
Then I hung out at Brooke’s Bar at the Pleasance Dome waiting for an interview, and reading James Acaster’s book “Classic Scrapes” which I’ve been sent ahead of our podcast interview on Friday
(still some tickets left - at the moment he’s the solo guest). I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has made me cry with laughter as much as this one. It was very difficult reading it in public as I looked like a madman and worried the people being interviewed near to me might worry that I was laughing at them. Please buy his book when it’s out
. I don’t think you will regret it.