Wednesday 30th January 2013
The Edinburgh Fringe 2013 is looming. It's over six months away but it's now that all the decisions are being made. Will I go back? Which venue(s) will I be going to? What will my show(s) be about? Usually at this stage I have a fairly strong idea, but this year I don't really. I am pretty certain that RHEFP will return (even though the loss of Kenneth Kendal is almost a fatal blow) and am tinkering with the idea of doing a few live Me1 vs Me2 snooker frames (if any snooker firm wants to sponsor that then do get in touch as we'll need a table!), but what will the main show be?
I don't know.
This will be my tenth totally different solo show in 10 consecutive Fringes - I don't know if anyone else has managed to do that (Andrew Maxwell, Danny Bhoy, Daniel Kitson?) - so part of me just wants to take the easy way out and call it "10" so it can be about anything I want. But I think I probably need to come up with an idea that makes more of a splash. It's pretty hard to work out what will feel fresh in half a year's time. I'd quite like to look at offence or freedom of speech, but I feel this might be an overworked theme this year. I quite like the idea of doing a show called "Not Yet Disabled" about the way that disability issues affect us all, but think that there are some great disabled comedians who are covering this issue better than I could. I need to follow the hard-hitting topics of racism and Hitler, religion and Jesus, love and Howard Jones and men's big cocks. Perhaps Sin or the Meaning of Life might be worthy follow-ups. But I just don't know. At some point quite soon I will have to take a punt and hope that in six months (most of which time I will be touring another show) I will come up with an hour of material. It's quite a decision.
I used to worry about what would happen if I just woke up one day and couldn't think of another comedy idea. That hasn't been a thought that has bothered me for a while - if anything I've been having too many ideas - but there must come a time when it all dries up. What if that time is now? What if I walk on to stage in August and just say, "Sorry I haven't got anything left to say."
It is this very fear that makes the Edinburgh Fringe deadline such a spur to creativity. Because I am afraid of the humiliation. It's both terrifying and exciting that I have no idea what my tenth solo show will be about and don't have a single new joke to put in it.
Today I had a meeting at my management about tour promotion and the Fringe. I've hit quite a lot of Fringe landmarks, last year was my 21st Fringe and the 25th anniversary of my first Fringe appearance. I've appeared in 34 different shows. I've lived about 2 of my 45 years at the Edinburgh Fringe (over 4% of my life). The problem with being a permanent yearly fixture means it is hard to get the press interested in these achievements. If you're always there people don't really notice you in the same way.
But today someone wondered how many Fringe performances I've been involved in and suggested that it might be approaching a thousand. What if my thousandth Fringe appearance would be happening this year? That would be something to celebrate.
When I got home I did a slightly rough totting up (it's hard to know for sure how many nights I did in Fringes that were two decades ago, but I erred on the side of caution and recalled which shows ran for the full length of the festival and which were one-offs or weekly runs). But by my reckoning (excluding guest slots in other people's shows and late night stand-up) I think I have done 728 Fringe performances. Which is ridiculous, but even if I carry on doing two shows a year it will take me another four years to make it to 1000. I will certainly hit 750 this year, but I don't think that's the one to make a fuss about. Even though it's slightly bedazzling. There can't be many people who have done more Fringe performances: Stewart Lee? Arthur Smith? Simon Munnery? Robin Ince does that many performances a year. I know Richard Vranch has been doing shows since the 70s. Roger McGough has been going up for over 40 years (but not sure how many performances he does).
Of course in a sense being able to rack up so many years and so many shows is a sign of lack of success - most people move on to bigger things rather quickly (I heard Michael Mcintryre on Desert Island Discs saying that he did five fringes and didn't get discovered, as if that was a lot!). But I have done my best to keep coming back to the Fringe whatever other stuff has been getting in my way. I've only missed two years since 1992 and continued to return even when we had had our Top of the Pops presenting zenith! And it seems that the people who come up an awful lot do it for the right reasons - the list above is an impressive role-call.
I may not do the funniest shows, but if I keep this up I might have done the MOST shows. And that is an achievement in itself. Rich people are judged by who has the most money, not who did the best things to get the money and so artistic people should be judged by quantity not quality.
The really terrifying thing is that if I can just stay alive I might do another 25 years. Whilst I might know what this year's show is called, you can safely bet that 2017 will see "Oh Frig I'm 50" and 2027 "Oh Shit I'm 60". And with a bit of luck 2037 will see the premiere "Oh Spunk I'm 70". I'm not foolish and deluded enough to plan ahead for 2047. I'll probably be on telly by then and too busy to do the Fringe.
All the dates for the Talking Cock tour can be found here
Buy the Talking Cock book here
Tickets are now on sale for both my Edinburgh Fringe shows. "We're All Going To Die!" is on at the Pleasance Beyond at 8pm Book here
Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast is at Stand 1 daily at 14.10. Book here
You can get video downloads of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from Go Faster Stripe
A video explaining the idea can be seen here
You can buy tickets to the shows from the Leicester Square Theatre website
You can still download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes
You can subscribe to this blog on Kindle. Now only ï¿½0.99 a month here. Or just carry on reading it on here for free.
Also on your kindle (or any smart phone or tablet with the kindle app) catch up on the early years of Warming Up (with extra retrospective additions) with Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles (only ï¿½3.53 each)
[ Email this edition of Warming Up to a friend ]