I'm now well and truly back from Edinburgh and have had some time to just sit and do nothing for a while, which has been nice, so thought I'd post a proper little account of my Edinburgh and what's next, for them that's interested (I thought about doing that on Facebook, but I figure if I just post it quietly and discreetly here then only people with an active interest in it will read it, and it looks less like me stroking my own ego).
Anyway, this has definitely been my favourite Fringe of the lot so far and I got a huge amount from it. I think a lot of that is down to my just trying to approach the whole thing from the right psychological angle this time - I'm hugely indebted to a few specific people who gave me some wise words near the beginning of the month to remind me of some very important things I've learned about how to do the Fringe properly over the last couple of years. On day one, Ben Target remarked that he was glad the "careerism" of the Fringe seemed to be dying out and people were doing it more and more for the joy of sharing their ideas with people. I also read a Q&A with John-Luke Roberts where he remarked "I've done enough Fringes now that I view it as an opportunity to go and do my job to nice audiences for a month rather than as a make-or-break industry showcase." I'm also very thankful to Holly Burn for reminding me one week in that "Everything in your show is bullshit, except for you. Nobody cares about the ideas within it as long as you're enjoying it and are proud of them. You have to live the moments between the words."
Trying to keep that psychology, where my own enjoyment of my show and pride of doing what I wanted came ahead of any attempts to do what I felt like I "should" be doing to woo the industry or whatever, meant I made a huge amount of tangible gains this year. My audiences were considerably more than double what they were last year and I also made considerable profit this year, something I've not come close to doing before. I have to extend a huge thank you to Bob Slayer for this for putting together the system and programme for Heroes of Fringe, which has created a payment model that puts artists first and therefore ensures a happy, stress-free performance environment that guarantees satisfied audiences as well.
People also seemed to really respond to what I was doing more this year, and a lot of people have got in touch saying it ranks among their favourite Fringe experiences, far more than in previous years. I've also had offers to perform at a few new comedy festivals as well as some potential touring opportunities, and some offers of acting and theatre work. Essentially, this year's show seems to have impressed people enough to offer me work far more than previous shows.
I've had a huge amount of fun collaborating with new people this Fringe as well, as detailed in an earlier post - I'm now a regular member of Comedian's Cinema Club, which was great fun all Fringe (thanks to Eric Lampaert, Will Seaward and Matt Highton for inviting me on board), and have messed around at ACMS enough to have been appointed an Honorary Board Member. That's on top of all the fun I had gigging and messing about with dozens of other comics I've worked with many times before, they all continue to be some of my favourite people and have made it a brilliant Fringe.
On the flip-side, I do find myself feeling strangely restless on coming back from this Fringe, in contrast to previous years where each one has really felt like the end of a particular endeavour. I feel this one has spurred me onto making a big realisation that I'm now keen to capitalise on, whereas last year I just felt like doing nothing for a while until I had the next idea. The critical responses to this year's show largely ran along the lines of "This guy is good and funny and has lots of potential, but we reckon he could do something better with it." That kind of response is always a bit disheartening when you've put a lot of effort into a show for a year, but I found it hard to disagree with any of them. On balance, I feel that all the shows I've done have been good, and I've been very proud of them, but I've yet to do one that 100% nailed the essence of what makes me a funny person. That's no bad thing, really - there's a tremendous pressure every year to think that your Fringe show has to be in some way definitive, but I'm happy that each one has been the best thing I could do at that time. All the Fringe ever needs to be is an opportunity to come up and share your ideas with an audience that enjoys it year after year, each time doing the best thing you can make, in the long and gradual pursuit of one day doing something definitive, if indeed you ever do. I'm resigned to the fact that I've not yet done a show that really crystallises what makes me funny, but each year I've come closer than before, and this year I've made a promise to myself for the year to come to help me take an even bigger step next time.
I was reminded by a lot of my collaborative work this Fringe, be it with Weirdos or CCC or ACMS, that the essence of what makes me funny always comes out clearer when working alongside other idiots who like to have fun, and the context of a stand-up comedian doing a solo show is a difficult framework to make that essence really come alive in front of. To that end, I've this week started playing with an idea for next year's solo show that takes a very different form and hopefully will provide a structure that I can be more naturally playful and funny with, one that's closer in tone to the kind of person I'm able to be as part of Weirdos and ACMS and that's harder to grasp hold of in a solo show where you have to be in control of the entire thing and are forced to play the role of both the host and the idiot. To that end, writing stand-up material and gigging on the circuit will be a low priority for me this year. The next show will hopefully be built around this new idea of mine rather than knitted together out of thematically linked stand-up routines tailored and honed at club gigs. I'd like to try and build a show via a slightly more organic and interesting process than that this year, one that plays into my own innate sense of how to have fun onstage rather than trying to pass muster as a stand-up comedian.
None of that means I won't be gigging at all in the year to come, though, so do keep your eye out for live shows. I'll still be doing the gigs I love, where I know I'm able to fool around and just be myself, and I'll be doing plenty of one-off special shows or happenings or comedy events, and I'm also hoping to do a fair few festival appearances this year (hopefully some of them in conjunction with Bob's taking the Heroes of Fringe BlundaBus on the road to a lot of the major UK comedy festivals, where I'll be joining him from time to time). There's also vague talk of trying to schedule in some touring appearances next year, pending some talks with a producer, so watch this space. Aside from live stuff, I'll continue being busy this year - in the wake of Shambles earlier this year and The Girl Whisperer coming out soon, I'm hoping to do more comedy acting and film work, be that on other people's projects or further film stuff of my own which I'm hoping to push ahead with. I'll also be nudging forwards with a full-length script project of my own, and am in talks about a collaborative theatre project which sounds very exciting - more news on that as and when it comes. So lots to be getting on with, first of which is the London shows of Hey Guys! and the upcoming Weirdos performance art piece, Only Fools And Horses And Horses And Horses And Horses And Horses.
Thanks to everybody who made this Fringe very special, and who helped the show to be something I'm very proud of and very excited to take forwards. Happy End of Fringe, everyone.