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Thursday 12th August 2010

There I was thinking that today marked a month without alcohol, but of course, I didn't have a drink on my birthday, so this was my 32nd day without booze. Even though Booz has played an important part in the same time period.
And I really am feeling well and full of beans again, though still boringly, writing this just 30 minutes after leaving my venue, sitting in my flat alone. I kinda like this relaxed Fringe though. It is, at least professional I suppose. After a day that descended into amateurism.
I was up early enough and paid my charity money into the bank, queued at the lovely Edinburgh Post Office where you take a number and get to sit on sofas as you wait and posted off the first 30 or so programmes (I have done 60 out of 171 programmes, but a lot of people have neglected to send me their address - you never know, these limited edition programmes might one day make you your money back) and then scooted off for a 30 minute run on the running machine. I could have done more but I had to head to the City Cafe to meet Andrew Collings, who had managed not to break another amp today, but who nonetheless no one except me suspected of the original crime. I had, along the way, thought of some nice material about the cleanliness or lack of in the Virgin Active changing rooms as well as the way that a tiny pool of urine collects on the little mats in the urinal (which girls might not know about, but they are designed to prevent splashback - but don't work - or maybe to stop chewing gum blocking up the drain. These ones all have a little dip at the top (maybe they have become worn by use) and a little puddle of all the men's wee gathers there. It is disgusting and thus worthy of inclusion in our podcast. It would lead to an interesting chat on stage about those little devices that women can wear so they can pee like men as well as a suggestion from me that they should create a device that would make old men be able to pee like five year old boys. Because what was once a pressure hose able to shoot over walls and hit any spot with laser like precision, will alas, unbeknowst to those delighted schoolboys shooting their urine jets whereeverso they might choose, will soon become like leaky watering cans. I think there is a fortune to be made by someone who can go to the Dragon's Den with something that could make us oldies recapture such youthful glee.
Our second audience were a little more reticent than our first, but I think, between us, we still managed to come up with some cracking bits of improvised comedy. But alas, unless you were there, you will never hear them. Yesterday we had recorded the show on both of our computers, but as a result I was a little distant from the microphone, so we decided to just use Andrew's machine. I had been slightly concerned about this, as there had been a few minor mishaps when we last used his ancient machine (which we haven't for a while) but it all worked out yesterday. I had warned Andrew to keep an eye on the display in case anything stopped and indeed as we sat down (after having recorded a couple of minutes bonus chat in the dressing room) he noticed it had stopped and some error message was displayed, but he clicked it (without reading it) and all seemed to be fine. The jaggedly lines indicated that the recording was continuing and we had only missed a few seconds.
We had to work had to get the audience going, but there was some good stuff, as well as some awful rubbish (principally Andrew insisting on talking at some length at what had happened on last night's Masterchef, even though nearly no one else had seen it, and if anyone had they would know what had happened - at one point someone was so frustrated by this that they shouted "Fuck Masterchef") We had done a slightly ill-advised, but actually quite funny bit about 7/7, which had come about by me using a wet one to do an impression of an iconic image from that awful day (as a respectful tribute), and out of context it's probably a mistake to discuss it, although Andrew tried to win the crowd back with a discussion of the release of the Lockerbie bomber. There was an odd, but enjoyable tension. It was inappropriate, but that's what we're here for. Just as the Masterchef rubbish threatened to grind us all into the ground, something incredible happened - all the electricity in the venue, excluding the emergency lighting - failed. The room was in darkness and the mic was off. For a second I thought our Scottish tech Lyndz had taken exception to some of my awful material about his country and turned off everything as a joke. When the darkness remained I thought that perhaps he was genuinely angry and was going to come and kill us all in the dark. Andrew though, used to technical failures, though perhaps surprised that he hadn't caused one, continued to talk about Masterchef, seemingly oblivious to what was going on. I suggested that maybe we should stop talking about that and address the disaster that was happening around us. After all the world outside might have just ended and we were still podcasting. About Masterchef.
It led to an interesting and exciting final ten minutes as someone came in and told us we had to evacuate, but no one made a move. I think the male members of the audience had realised this was their opportunity to touch some women. And it seemed that none of the women minded. The kind of women who come to our shows clearly want to be groped in the dark by smelly nerds. Which is a wonderful thing. There is someone for everyone.
It ended with the evacuation beginning, as the software on Andrew's computer truncated the performance and might well have left you wondering whether we had survived this emergency. If you had ever got to hear it.
But you never will.
Not only was the GRV closed down due to some kind of dispute between the electricity board and the owner of the building (there was apparently some kind of confrontation in the street which our fleeing audience might have misinterpreted as excellent street theatre), but later on Andrew Collings would come into the lounge where I was writing my blog and somewhat shamefacedly inform me that something had gone wrong with the podcast. This was entirely unconnected to the black out, but clearly something to do with his crappy computer and the moment of Garage Band stopping as we came on stage. All that had actually materialised from the long recording was the stuff we had done in the dressing room and though we and then Justin Moorhouse did our best to recover the major, missing portion for the next four hours it seems very likely that it has somehow not actually recorded. Just as yesterday Collings did his usual trick of not taking any responsibility for the error that was clearly down to his idiocy and refusing to offer up any kind of apology. We recorded an apology, which you can hear (along with that first 165 seconds) here.
I think we were both philosophical about it. Obviously we are doing eight more podcasts in the next week and a half, so you at home will have plenty to entertain you and in a way it's quite fitting that the paying audience should get something extra for their willingness to hand over a small amount of cash. But I was sorry that this one had gone. Whilst it might save Collings being sacked from some future plum job because of some breathtaking comments about 7/7 (which I cannot remember now luckily for him), we had lost some funny Collings-baiting, none of which I can recall and I think the Masterchef section being interrupted by a failure of all electricity in the building might be one of the highlights of the podcast. Even though the audience were not enjoying themselves too raucously, we can now pretend this was the most amazing podcast ever. And in some ways it might have been. What a pity it has disappeared, but such is the nature of live performance. And we will ensure there are back-ups from now on and that Collings, who can destroy electrical equipment by his mere presence, is no longer left in charge of something so important. Sorry to those who were involved and got name checks or got slagged off for taking degrees in Media. We can't go back. We will move forward. The legendary podcast 123 will remain lost and rumours will begin to circulate about what was in it. Thousands will claim they were here. And now there are a maximum of 80 people who can say they have heard all Collings and Herrin podcasts and I suspect the number might well be much smaller. In fact it might just be one, Andrew Collings. Even though I have been present at all the stuff we have done together, I did not listen to the bit Andrew did on his own when I am ill. Perhaps two or three of the more fastidious disciples can join him in his claim.
There is lots more Collings and Herrin on the way unless the lights at the venue are still off tomorrow. Ah well.
And if any of this sequence of disasters was Jesus' punishment for my blasphemy, then weirdly he didn't do anything to wreck my solo show. Lots of people showed up - it wasn't full, but it wasn't far off. And tonight was the most fun yet. The genealogy bit was creating the hilarity that I remember it doing in the old days and my timing and pacing are improving every day. And my chosen disciple claimed to be a fishmonger - which was not only fantastic for the bit in the show "Come with me, I will make you a fishmonger of men..." but when he told me his mates were also in the trade (and I think there is a slight chance he was telling the truth) I was able to ask if they only attended entertainment with fish-based connections. You can imagine the excitement in the fishmongers - "Richard Herring is coming to town! Plus he's doing a show about Jesus, whose symbol was a fish!"
I realise that my fatigue and illness must have affected the first few shows somewhat, because now I am back to almost full energy levels and my throat is (mainly) better (it did start to grate a bit tonight), everything is flying and the change of pace for the slightly more thoughtful ending really seems to work too. There is a satisfying silence and a real sense of emotion as the cock crows.
And luckily no Collings on hand to send the projector spiraling out of control or the chandeliers careering down onto our heads.
The podcast means that I go to bed now with no idea what might happen tomorrow. This is definitely back to being right up there with my most enjoyable Fringes ever. If only to see the way that Collings tries to wheedle his way out of taking any blame for the electrical equipment that he breaks.

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