The Edinburgh Fringe kicks off today and for the first time since 2003 I am not a part of it. I can’t quite describe how this makes me feel. Is this the emotion that you earthlings call “happiness”?
I’d like to wish my fellow comedians the best of luck for the month ahead. They will need it to survive the maelstrom of self-obsession, paranoia and disappointment that they are willingly throwing themselves into. It’s simultaneously both worth it and not at all worth it.
It’s the first August in ages that hasn’t begun with me in a cold sweat, though I don’t know why I’m so calm. I have taken on an even harder challenge. I am performing all eleven of the my one-man shows, plus a brand new one, over the next six weekends at London’s Leicester Square Theatre. It’s an epic challenge both of memory (there’s over 18 hours of stand up to learn) and stamina, but also a trawl through the emotional highs and lows of the last 15 years. It started when I was 33 and wondering if I’d managed to achieve as much as Jesus had by that age in “Christ on a Bike”, took me through examining male insecurities and phallusies in the male answer to the Vagina Monolgues, “Talking Cock”, past at least two mid-life crises (including leaving behind my thirties in “Oh F*** I’m 40), up to marriage in “What is Love Anyway?” and now being a father in my latest show “Happy Now?”
It’s fascinating (and occasionally embarrassing) for me to review my own stand up career. There’s some stuff I am very proud of. “Hitler Moustache” starts from a fairly juvenile premise of asking why the toothbrush moustache is associated with the Nazi leader rather than Charlie Chaplin, but goes on to cover liberal hypocrisy, right-wing stupidity and the dangers of democratic apathy. There’s some stuff I wouldn’t write now as an older and happier man, as well as some routines that might have seemed edgy in 2007 but in the light of ever-changing morality now might come across as plain offensive. But I intend to force myself to perform the dodgier bits and commentate on how it feels to do them again. Might it be tricky for a content 48-year-old man to work up the anger and self-hatred of an emotionally lost 38 year old? Come and watch me squirm.
Just as, I imagine, it will be entertaining to see me walk this frankly ridiculously difficult tightrope as I try to remember all the material. Like a very lame form of motor racing, part of the thrill will be seeing me crash and burn. If you fancy checking out some or all of my solo stand up career (there are some good discounts if you want to see multiple shows) then it’d be lovely to see you. Jerry Seinfeld charged £100 for just an hour of jokes. You can see 18 hours of me for the same amount. Which laugh for laugh still makes Seinfeld the better deal.
My daughter has an awesome new toy: the Rainforest Jumperoo. It’s an unwieldy circular frame surrounded by parrots and toys, with a seat in the middle which allows your baby to bounce around. I have never seen a human being having so much fun as Phoebe has in this. I envied her and would urge Fisher Price to make an adult sized version.
There’s a gap in the market for a service that treats adults like babies. At the moment businesses of this kind are only aimed at men who get sexual gratification from dressing up in nappies. I am not into that. I just want to be wheeled around in a pram, have a nap every three hours and let someone else take care of my toilet business for me in a clinical and definitely not sexy way. Then bounce around in a massive Jumperoo, puke over myself and go to bed crying. I can’t be the only one.