Doing my best…
I did the gig. I almost cancelled it last Friday, I almost cancelled it on Thursday morning, and I almost turned around on the way there; thanks to my partner and to Mind UK, I managed to stave off a panic attack on arrival. It was ropey, confused; I was terrified, but I did the gig. I’ll take that, right now, and call it a home draw. The story worked, the new material worked (for the most part) and I’ve re-structured the narrative after a good think about the gig.
I’m doing this show at Edinburgh 2019 because I’ve not done a full Edinburgh run since I started doing stand-up in 2005. I haven’t even been to the Fringe since 2007. I was lucky and had some success early on, had some of the best experiences of my life, and I’ve been given opportunities that more deserving comics would kill for – but I’ve never ‘done Edinburgh’. For many years it was simply logistics: who can blag the whole of August off? I don’t care who your boss is, a whole month off during the summer ain’t gonna wash. Then there’s the money: I *had* a mortgage to pay and could never justify spunking six to ten grand on a self-indulgence. Plus I drank and smoked and, empirically, they have taken priority in the past.
I’ve never done Edinburgh and it is one of my regrets. I’ve never lived amidst the worlds greatest arts festival in one of its most beautiful and historic cities, cooked with good friends and lived as a full-time artist for a whole month; I’ve never seen my face and name on a poster that advertised not a club gig but a show that I’d written, me, Wes Packer, from scratch. I’ve never stood in the loft bar and made someone hate themselves just by glancing over their shoulder while they’re talking to me…
But fuck all that noise. Above all, I have never proved to myself that I could achieve something worthwhlie under my own steam – without a tutor, a teacher, or a parent helping me up. My dad taught me to take pride in my work. Up until now, I’ve done nothing that I’m particularly proud of, save the Whack Turkey album, obviously, but that’s not finished yet. I’m looking forward to releasing that and to hearing what you all think of it, it’s the thing I’ve done up until now that I’m most proud of. However, there are three people in Whack Turkey (usually). Edinburgh would be just me (with a little help from my friends…) and something that I can point to and say, “I did that.” Even if it’s shit. I need something I can be proud right now. I need a win.
Part of my recovery, something that has helped me a lot, is finally admitting to myself who and what I am, accepting my limitations and admitting my faults while acknowledging my qualities and skills; designing the life I think I can live while staying sane and out of hospital/rehab/prison/the crem; playing to my strengths, living in the present, being of service, and somehow enjoying the rest of my life.
My dad is a craftsman, a skilled man, but he’s been around, too, and he’s a wise old wolf. As well the importance of taking pride in my work, looking after my tools and, my personal, favourite: “measure twice, cut once” he taught me that all you can do is your best and that, as long as it is the very best you can do, no-one can ask you for more than that. If it’s not enough for them…c’est la fuckin’ vie.
He’s right, of course. Depression has taught me that everyone has their own threshold, their own tolerance for pain, and what upsets one persons slightly could crumble someone else. “Everyone is fighting a silent battle so be nice” is now almost cliche but it’s true but just as everyone draws their own red lines, every one us will have a different and individual idea of what “battle” mean. For some, it’s cancer, for some, it’s age but for others the battle may simply be everyday life and is already a battle they feel they can’t win. Sometimes, just getting off the bed is a battle.
I’ve learned that every one of us is doing our best: some people didn’t have the upbringing, some people got a whack on the head; for some, it’s genetic and, yes, some people are simply just cunts. Whatever the cause, we’re all doing our best with the tools and experience we have. I want to make stand-up my life because I honestly don’t think I’m capable of anything else right now and I’m doing my best. Some days, I can’t get off the bed but I’m doing my best. Some days I couldn’t write a postcard but I’m doing my best. I’ve cancelled gigs left, right, and centre, costing me thousands of pounds and my financial peace of mind, but I’m doing my best.
I’m taking this show to Edinburgh next year if it kills me. If I do it at a Big Four venue, the PBH Free Fringe, the back of a van, in the street or on a cloud of smoke remains to be seen but I am taking this fucking show to Edinburgh 2019 and I am doing a full run.
I don’t want to get all Paltrow on you again but, sincerely, thanks to everyone who packed The Duke on Thursday. I needed that. From the heart, also, thanks to everyone in the valley, on the phone, and on social media for all the messages of support. It means everything right now. I probably shouldn’t admit to getting a touch emotional but my days as a Thrusting Young Valley Boy are behind me so thanks, all of you x
P.s. Take it a little easier on yourself today, for me.
p.p.s. Don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter if you want a each blog post in your inbox and feel free to like and share cos it helps me in the long run. I have plans for Patreon and some other merch you’ll be able to get and I’ll tell you about them when I have them up and running. Also, feel free to drop me a line on social media, email, or the website contact form if there’s anything you want me to talk about on the blog, in the stand-up, or on YouTube.
p.p.s. I’m back on the road now and I need some work, so: Agents and Promoters! I’m on the market. Twenty minutes to an hour. Thanks x