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Monday, August 17

Another Installment

And now, here's a further installment in the frankly unscintillating story of what I did on my summer holiday. To understand why this is a holiday, despite what I'm about to describe, you have to understand how the rest of my life works these days.

I do a lot of travelling. This is not particularly a problem, in fact, it was an 8 hour car journey, which I rather enjoyed, which brought me all the way to Edinburgh the other night. However, the fact that I'm always in the car makes something of a routine for me, and it's good to break it as I've done with a vigour since I've been in Edinburgh (only 2 full days so far, but it already seems like a lifetime).

Also, I work in a rather demanding job. There are three ways you can deal with a demanding job. You can pretty much ignore it, go in, serve your time and hope nobody notices much. I guess there are times when everyone's done that. You can also go on and just do the best you can during the day, going home to forget about it. I can occasionally manage that. Then there's the sort of obsessive behaviour that gets you acting on the basis of "but surely I can make this stuff happen by sheer force of will and by putting in extra effort". This latter one is what I'm like when I'm both at my best, and at my own self-damaging frustrating worst.

It's been up and down in the real world and I've been using Edinburgh as the excuse. It's my excuse for "well, things can remain a bit shit now, because I'll be in Edinburgh and then I can feel better". So now I'm here and it's working a charm. It's not that I've been unhappy in the last few weeks, just hassled by responsibilities, which I've now pretty much parked at the back of my mind until I leave Scotland.

Am I taking this opportunity to kick back, relax, do little, oversleep? Nope. Edinburgh during the Fringe, even a seemingly lazy Sunday, is my busy time. I woke around 9.30 - 10 yesterday. I spent a little time on the computer, showering, and getting ready to go out. The last two in that list weren't related to the first, obviously; who showers on their computer? Maybe some people will shower on their iPhone - the iShower or someshit. Anyway, I left the flat in the end and went for breakfast and the papers.

The idea of reading the papers in the morning, and it's the red-tops because they're better for this, is to get ideas for material. We're doing topical comedy shows all month, and having a few news-based quips is a pretty good idea. Given there's not much happening in the news, this is easier said than done.

I had breakfast and plenty of coffee and then it was almost time to go to the venue to get ready for our first show of The Seven Deadly Jokes. I'm not sure quite how time passed, but before I knew it it was 1.15pm and we were frantically setting the show up. Not frantically - that suggests a panic - just busily.

First show of The Seven Deadly Jokes went pretty well. People got the jokes and seemed to like them. There was a diverse mix of people in, including one guy who came about 10 minutes from the end and laughed like a drain at one punchline, making it all seem worthwhile. I was really pleased that we hit the ground running with the show, and it all felt comfortable and right. Like we had the right show in the right room.

All to play for today, of course. Who knows how audiences will treat us on a Monday!?

After the show, I packed our stuff away and then nipped back to the flat on my bike. After a short break I biked it over to the 3.30pm show and performed in that. My topical material was still light on the ground, but we had a few laughs. After the 3.30 show there's no time to do anything but hot-foot it to the 4.50 show, which I opened. I had fun bantering with the audience, and my normal scripted material also seemed to work. I was happy. I am bound to be happy. I'm in Edinburgh for the largest arts festival in the world. This is my 7th festival as a performer too, so this feels like a large part of my year.

I decided to follow my performing, which was done by 6, with a trip to see Jerry Springer the Opera. It's a brave move to go and see a show you know well and really like. The reason is that the Fringe performances can be crap. There's no two ways about it. Any dickheads can hire a Fringe venue and there's only so much filtering that people do to see if their venue is going to get a hit or a turkey of a show in it. So this cast had the power to either entertain me or totally piss me off. It's a 2 hour show and they could piss me off for two hours or piss me off by cutting it badly as well as performing it badly. It was also the first show I watched this year, so they could seriously set a low tone for my expectations.

Actually, they were bloody brilliant. A four star version of the show for sure. Excellent ensemble singing, largely excellent individual performances. It was a delight. All my favourite bits were done very well.

Time is now 8.30pm and I've not eaten since morning. I dragged myself back to the flat, dropped off the bike, took out my contact lenses, which were feeling like they'd been in too long, which they had, and then headed out for food. I went to the Elephant House, which is a cafe/bar which served me some good food. The waiter took my request for a table for one a bit oddly and put me alone on an 8 seater huge round table. I thanked him for emphasising my loneliness with that move. He said he'd be adding some strangers to the table. True to his word, he showed up with three further people about 5 minutes later. I have a stock line for situations like this "Hello, I'm Ashley and I'll be your stranger for this evening", I said to them. After one more quip about not having to split the bill, I left them alone.

It was funnier at the time. I'm sure.

Following food, I went out in search of a show. What I ended up with was a rather long walk - good exercise - a long chat on the phone with my girlfriend, curtailed by the phone battery, and then a return to pretty much where I started. It killed about 2 hours all in all.

I also managed to collect flyers for our show, so we can now give them to people and ask them to come. Yay.

The night ended with me watching a show called Shaggers. It's a show I've performed in before. It's meant to be jokes about sex. That's the simple premise. Tonight's one was... different... the particular mix of acts didn't gel with the audience. I'm not going to tell everyone who can read this blog, or get it through Facebook, exactly why I thought that. I'm not a reviewer and I'm not going to be critical. It's just a fact. I heard some people commenting on the show at a nearby convenience store. They felt it had started well and then dragged. Contact them for more details.

For those people who care about statistics. I've now performed 7 shows and seen 2.

That's all for now.

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