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Tuesday 17th August 2010

I am a fucking idiot.
That at least, was how I was feeling at 5.30am, after 3 hours sleep, as I sat down to try and turn 11 pages of script into 25 pages before the cast arrived at 11. Why do I do this to myself? Why can't I learn to write stuff in advance? Why do I seem to get off on leaving the writing of this stupid show later and later every time I do it?
I am not sure, but this method certainly seems to work, if bringing a lot of stress and unhappiness in its wake.
But by 11, when Dan Tetsell arrived at the door there was something resembling a script. I hadn't had time to write up the sketch about the lost towel, but this got covered well in the blog and the C&H podcasts and to be honest I couldn't really find a way to dramatise it that added anything to the previous versions. I had accidentally written a sketch about a ghost that I thought I saw in the gym a couple of weeks about and despite feeling that the Tam Dalyell and Susan Boyle characters had totally run their course, I finally managed to think of a way to use them, whilst simultaneously ensuring they do not trouble me again. I think one of the difficulties of this Edinburgh podcast, which sits alone and is not a part of the 2nd series which drew to an end quite neatly, is that I didn't just want to trot out all the regular characters and catchphrases, but was conscious that most of the paying audience would be a bit disappointed if their favourites didn't make an appearance. Even though Tiny Andrew Collings had been obliterated I knew there would be some tears from the nerds if they did not get to see their hero in the flesh. But on the other hand it would be a shame if the show just became a cavalcade of past glories. But I am glad in hindsight that I got most of the regulars in. I think it will be the last appearance for many of them (the new character of Lembit Opik feels like it still has legs) and I will try to come up with some new stuff for the remaining three shows at the Bloomsbury and Leicester Square Theatre in the autumn. These may well be the swansong for the project, but in any case due to tour commitments I will not be able to do any more until May 2011 at the earliest. So do book early if you want to be a part of the live audience.
After a readthrough with Emma and Dan (watched by producer Ben) I headed to "The Pride of Scotland" to buy the cast some Jimmy hats (by which I mean the tam o shanters with ginger hair sticking out of them - apparently Jimmy hat means condom to the Scotch - how lovely that they even call their penises Jimmmy here) and then on to the Assembly Rooms. I bumped into a very tired Christian who had been on stage at the Gilded Balloon at 5am (it was not about midday). The two of us were both exhausted and between us had stayed up all night!
The rehearsal in the empty ballroom in front of the Scottish crew felt vaguely embarrassing. We could assume that they were not aware of the history of the project and there were an awful lot of "Scotch" jokes and playing around with the national stereotypes. More embarrassingly this was the same crew who work on "Christ on a Bike". Would the already sardonic Craig on sound deliberately screw up my cues tonight?
Incredibly the show had more or less sold out. This is remarkable given that we were on in the middle of the afternoon and had had no PR, no posters and no Fringe entry for this show. These 300+ people had found us solely because they had listened to our podcasts (or possibly seen the small ad in the Christ on a Bike programme). And there was a real electricity and excitement in the air as I stepped on stage. And though I hadn't thought this was possible at 5.30 the show rocked along with laughs all the way. You will be able to judge for yourself how good my work in the early hours of the morning in the middle of the busiest month of my year had been, when the podcast turns up here - it will also be on iTunes. Even Craig (who hasn't commented on what he thinks about Christ on a Bike) made a point of telling me he had enjoyed the show. What a relief to get it over with and thank God the paying audience had enjoyed it. My only fear was that they would have felt short-changed if the show hadn't been funny. You at home getting it for nothing I wasn't so worried about. The nature of this show is that it will be hit and miss and there is the genuine danger that it might not come together at all. Much as Andrew Collings wanted to help me write it, it is important that the scripted bits all come from me (aside from Christian's song). But I am lucky to have such a talented cast who bring out a lot of laughs that aren't on the page. Dan Tetsell talking to himself as Gordon Brown and Lembit Opik was one highlight, but Subo and Tam's duet was a wonderful swansong too. I kind of wish we had done the complete song now, but it goes on long enough as you will hear.
There was a post show meal and I also had to dash back and forth to the train station with my girfriend who headed home today. By the time I was back in the flat at 6pm I was exhausted. I had to have a quick snooze, although stupidly set my alarm for 8am rather than 8pm. Luckily I woke up anyway, but I could easily have slept through my own show.
Knackered as I was I managed to get through my hour and eschewed the comedians' poker tournament and Karaoke Circus in order to go home to my now empty bed to sleep off this ridiculous day of stress.
But luckily it had all been worth it. Thanks to all those of you who made the Edinburgh AIOTM such a memorable experience.
At the start of the show I had said I would never do anything like this again, but now it's over (like child birth apparently) I am thinking it would be fun to do it next year.
Like I said, I am a fucking idiot.

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