Edinburgh Fringe 2019, and beyond…
I’ve never ‘done Edinburgh’- not the whole run with a proper show with posters and shit. I want a poster. Just once. I’ve been up to Edinburgh, of course, once in 2006 for the semi-finals of So You Think You’re Funny? And once in 2007, just for a few days, just so I didn’t feel left out. I’d spent the previous twelve months stupidly waiting for the phone to ring as I didn’t want to be seen as ‘pushy’, I didn’t want to use other people to be successful. I still don’t. The difference is, I know now, that everyone else does. I guess you can’t be good at just one aspect of something and expect to be successful. You can’t be a footballer who can take a great penalty but doesn’t like running, unless you’re Thierry Henry.
So I’m trying. I’ve asked some, for me, difficult questions and I’ve had a mixed response. That’s ok. It was important that I asked, not what the answer was.
The period between Edinburgh ’06 and Edinburgh ’07 ended on a real high for me. I performed at the the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, Canada. The highest point of my career and my life at that point, and (much) more of which later. I came home, went to Edinburgh, had some fun, and came back to the Rhondda and waited for the phone to ring. Again.
Between all of the time I’ve spent on the road, winning SYTYF? The Just for Laughs Festival, and the Reading and Leeds Festival 2007 (at which I bought a R&LF ’07 t-shirt with my name on the back! I shit you not. It’s real small and it’s right down the bottom, by your arse, but it’s there, man…)
I’ve done most of the things that a lot of the comedians at my level – many of whom justifiably saw themselves as my elders and betters, along with many very talented, supremely confident, and incredibly ambitious newcomers – at that time would have killed to do instead of me. Maybe things would have worked out better for everyone if I hadn’t had that early success. Hannah Gadsby is and incredible talent and I can’t wait to see her show, Nanette. Maybe she’d have done more with it than I ever did.
Maybe I’d have just worked hard and learned my craft, earned my spurs, paid my dues, claimed my spot, got the t-shirt, etc…
I have a notoriously short attention-span. Once I’ve learned how to do something to a fairly competent standard (I’m currently refusing to allow myself to learn any songs on the electric bass until I’ve learned and memorised every fucking fret on that neck) I get bored. I’ve done that now, that was cool, what’s next? I’ve been like this since childhood – from lego to books, to school subjects to bands to career choices, and I think it explains a lot. I’ll give it some more thought, maybe chat to my counsellor about it. Feel free to chip in down in the comments or over on Facebook if you have any thoughts, I could really use some help because…
The only thing I haven’t done is Edinburgh. A full-run (about 28-30 nights), one-man, stand-up comedy show with a title and flyers and tickets and shit, a proper show that I can take places and ‘do’ for people while maybe writing another one? I’m terrified of Edinburgh. I’m terrified of Edinburgh for two reasons:
1. I’m incredibly risk-averse, which is why I would cry on the way to school if I hadn’t done my homework, was in my late twenties before I stepped out from behind my drum-kit, and why I didn’t invest in Bitcoin when I fucking knew I should have, all those years ago.
2. I’m terrified that I’ll be successful. I’m pretty good – not exceptional by any means but I’m not too shabby. Plus, I have incredible people to advise me if only I had the cheek to ask them. I reckon I could do a pretty good, let’s say middling, show for Edinburgh especially after forty-one years, a breakdown, a divorce, a redundancy, and both careers in software development AND comedy to talk about. I’ll probably just end up talking about a monkey or something…
The trouble is, a mediocre show would mean that I was happy. I’d been there and done it, everything I’ve wanted to do in comedy, from small, smokey jazz bars where I thought I was The Christ Lenny Bruce to supporting Puppetry of The Penis in front of a pact, more-than-up-for-it, crowd at Swansea Grand Theatre. Opened the Glee in Cardiff a few times, did well; The Big Room at St. David’s Hall, with some of my heroes: Glen Wool, Richard Herring, and Craig Campbell among them, was one of particular pride to me and I hope to one day pack out a venue in the Rhondda to film a DVD of the show and I hope you’ll all come.
Sorry, I’m rambling. I’m afraid that once I’ve achieved this last thing in comedy that I’ll then get bored and fuck it all off and need to find something else for a jaded, cynical, early-forties Welsh Depressive to do with his life.
If I succeed, if I wow the critics and slay the audiences and delight the fans; if I finally get the agent or manager or anyone who knows this industry and can tell me what the fuck I have to do to play this game aside from being honest and working hard then I’m terrified that I’ll work myself into the ground again. This time, maybe literally.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve started development on the show for Edinburgh ’19 so early. I wanted to go this year but “my head went”. I may not get there next year, for financial or health reasons, or because I’m too scared, and that’s fine. But one day I want to come home with a show and tell you all about where the fuck I’ve been what I’ve been up to, and why I’ve been shouting and rambling at crowds all over the country all these years. I’ve developed a fairly unique take o things, shall we say, as a heavy-smoking, morbidly obese, Shit Buddhist making his way with the Rhondda as a base, a home, and a touchstone.
We’ll have a laugh, I’m sure, especially if my best mate Matt is back with me, and I hope that some of you will be proud of me. I hope, at the very least, I’ll be proud of myself. If I don’t go to Edinburgh then at least we can have a big fuck-off party somewhere in the Rhondda – maybe Smokies??? – tape it, sell it or give it away, and then see where life takes me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to the point where I have an agent, I can tour a new show every year, do some good work with the upcoming Valley Fabulous podcast and YouTube, write something you’ll enjoy, and somehow keep a roof over my head. I think I’d be happy with that. I’m feeling a lot better on this new combination of meds. It’s time to work and to attend to my responsibilities again.
I’d appreciate any thoughts you’d like to add in the comments, and I’ll try to answer any questions, too. I’m not here to sell you an ideology or milk you for cash. I’m more interested in working some stuff out about life and my head and that, y’know? Maybe I won’t get bored with that…