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Sunday 3rd August 2014

I was up Arthur’s Seat wearing a cheap plastic crown this lunchtime to film a piece for BBC4 about the Fringe. They had decided I was the King of Edinburgh (I don’t know where this idea started) and I was handing out advice on what to go and see. We had some fun, though not sure how the finished thing will look or whether this kind of thing helps sell tickets. I need to sell some tickets. Tonight’s stand up show might have had the lowest Edinburgh audience I have had for 5 years. They were enthusiastic on the whole and I am glad that I didn’t let my energy drop, but I did feel tired and slightly light-headed towards the end. It’s Dead Sunday, sitting in a little island between cheap previews and two for one Mondays, but it’s an ominous sign nonetheless. One mustn’t make any career decisions (or really any decisions) whilst up at this maddening festival and if I did I would have retired from comedy and gone to work with Ebola victims in Africa a long time ago, but I think it’s time to take a break from the festival next year. Increasingly I am feeling there are better and less self-destructive ways to ply my trade. It disappoints me that Edinburgh doesn’t love me as much as I love it, but I’ve had lots of experience with that imbalance in my personal as well as professional life. And maybe after 23 years I have to accept that it’s not you, it’s me. Certainly the necessary gamble to go to a bigger venue than I could ever fill (complicated issues involving getting the play in a venue where it at least had a chance of breaking even) has made it clear that I need to downscale rather than upscale if I do return. Never has the juxtaposition between effort expanded and general indifference at the box office been felt stronger than it has for me this year. I am pleased that I have created two strong shows and I am not giving up hope that the word will get round about them, but it’s a little dispiriting that that’s the position I am still in after all this time. Just as it is a little bit boring for us all to have to go through these same emotions every year. This town is full of people doing great work that is getting more ignored than I am and has very few people doing bad work and getting an audience. There’s just so much going on that it is inevitable that most shows get swamped beneath the tsunami and missed.
After my show I dashed down the hill to close Set List, always a favourite show of mine at the Fringe. I hadn’t had time to get nervous about it, but felt a little unnerved as I watched Sara Pascoe being effortlessly brilliant in the set before mine. She exuded confidence and I would have comfortably believed that this was prepared material if it wasn’t fro the fact that I knew it wasn’t. If her made up stuff is this good then I am actually a bit scared to go and see her show, but you all should. I think this might finally be her year. I floundered a bit with a first subject that I couldn’t even make any sense of (and can’t remember even now) having to ask an audience member what one of the words meant and even then having little idea of where to go with it. I fared a bit better with the next few subjects and came up with some stuff for “Genocide Heads-Up” which is probably nearly good enough to use in my actual set. I pondered how ludicrous both sides are in the Israel Palestine situation for thinking that God prefers them to anyone else, like God would create all the different kinds of people, but prefer one over another. I have touched on this idea of God being racist before, but expressed it well tonight. And then said that much as I was against genocide, maybe the solution to such crises is to just flip a coin and whoever loses is wiped out. Surely both sides would be up for that. Because if they really believe their God is real, then surely He will make the coin fall the way that will be good for them. 
I had some fun discussing “Birth Canal Toll” too, glad that I had the thought to have a stipend charged in both directions so that babies had to find the funds to escape the womb. But I also discussed how someone entering the birth canal from the other direction would hold the coins (either put into the testicles or clicked down the urethra like one of those pound coin holders that some people have. A man in the audience said you could clutch them in the end of your penis, which made me wonder what kind of freaky opposable thumb cock he had. I think I came away from the experience as a draw. But that’s the beauty of this show. It can flummox you or inspire you in equal measure. And maybe that's the beauty of the Fringe itself perhaps. 
I walked up back the hill and a couple of men applauded me. “You really made me laugh tonight, which at the moment is a really had thing to do,” one shouted at me. From the direction they were walking I suspect they had seen the stand up show rather than the Set List one. So there you go. I had made one man very happy. And in a way isn’t that better than making 500 people mildly pleased? 

Nice 4 star review for “I Killed Rasputin” in One4Review 

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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be touring from October 2014 to May 2015 All details here.
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