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Friday 30th July 2010

Goodbye London. See you in September.
The nice thing about driving up to Edinburgh (even in stages as I am doing it) is that you can take up stuff that you wouldn't be able to fit into your rucksack on the train. I debated with myself taking up my games system, but decided that I could probably do without that distraction in this packed month. But I did decide to pack my espresso machine. Which might seem like a ludicrous luxury, but it won't take up too much space and means I can start every morning with a latte and possibly save myself about £50. My guess is I will still sit in lots of cafes anyway, but it will be good to have a nice coffee while I am still in my dressing gown - also packed. I took a few bits and pieces from the kitchen, including a box of porridge oats, enjoying the coals to Newcastle style fun of transporting oats to a place where they lie in piles on street corners for free.
Hopefully I didn't forget anything important.
I was still feeling tired and lousy and there was a long drive ahead to Scarborough, which luckily passed without too much incident, but took six hours with minimal stops for wee, sandwiches and petrol. I didn't eat wee sandwich and anyone who says I did and they saw me making them and then eating them is lying.
I bumped into SG Lee in the hotel lobby. We were both asked to sign photos of ourselves for the hotel to display. I don't think that has ever happened to me before. Celebrities must be scarce in Scarborough.
I got to the venue to try and set up my Christ on a Bike slideshow (I had been planning to do the begat bit). I knew it was an outdoor theatre and I knew that there was some kind of body of water in between the stage and the audience, but I was still surprised to see it in reality. As a comedian you always want your audience quite near, partly so you can converse with them, but mainly so you just feel like part of them or connected to them at least. But there was at least thirty feet between the massive stage and the front row of seats. On the plus side a heckler would have to swim quite a way before he could really make any kind of impact on the show. The screens were surprisingly small and I wasn't sure people would be able to read my complicated, wordy slides from that distance, but was also increasingly feeling that it might be a mistake to do complicated religious routines in this environment, especially as I was on first.
All the comedians were a little nervous about the prospect of this unusual gig. It was a great line-up. Alun Cochrane was MCing and the other acts were Phil Nichol, Jack Whitehall, Shappi Khorsandi and Stewart of course. Reg D Hunter was supposed to be on but had dropped out due to exhaustion. I was still here despite being exhausted. It was probably fortunate that there had been a drop out though as it was a pretty packed bill and the show had to end at 10 and inevitably some of the comedians did more than they were meant to.
As it turned out it was a lovely gig and the audience were up for pretty much everything right from the get go (though they seemed less enamoured with my religious jokes, so I didn't do the begat routine). Once on stage I felt a little faint. The moving water in front of me and the drifting smoke from a smoke machine unsettled me a bit, but I was mainly just light-headed. I figured I would be OK, but it was also strange performing on a stage, just two steps away from a fifteen foot drop into a pool of water. It was hard to resist the temptation to jump or at least the fear that I might stumble. It was lucky my girlfriend wasn't there or I would have found it pretty much impossible to stop myself pushing her in in front of 2000 spectators. I did suggest that the audience should vote on the act that they liked the least and they should be chucked in at the end - but realised that on tonight's bill that might end up being me. I managed a proper old-school add lib, pointing down to the water and saying, "It's the orchestra that I feel sorry for."
All our pre-show worries were foundless and I thanked the people of Scarborough for having me before adding, "How did it go in Scarborough? Fair." Which was a correct if slightly modest assessment of the gig. I came off feeling pretty lousy, but had fun hanging out with the other comics, being reminded of how much fun it is to get to chat with other people after gigs rather than heading back to another hotel alone. It's going to be a lot of fun being up in Edinburgh. If I can shake off the lurgy.
I managed to resist the lure of alcohol (though thought the brandy coffee that everyone else was drinking might actually be quite helpful for my sore throat and snotty nose) and when we got back to the hotel, I felt like a was being affectatious be having a pot of ginger tea as the others drank proper drinks. But tellingly I rather enjoyed it. Maybe I will get through Edinburgh without booze, drinking my eccentric herbal teas instead.
Or maybe I will have to be scooped up in a shovel as I end the Fringe as a pool of alcohol and vomit.
Can't believe I will be there in a day and a half.

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