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Saturday 9th August 2008

I was very tired today and starting to feel my age. I hadn't drunk too much, but I had stayed up til 4am and even though I wasn't up til the afternoon my legs were heavy and my mind befuddled and paranoid. Even in a good Fringe it is hard to stave off the rollercoaster of emotion, and you become a bit irrational and self-critical and more sensitive. I found myself getting annoyed by this review in the Stage criticising me for not ad libbing or deviating from the script. Partly because there isn't really a script as such and there are plenty of places where I am trying out different stuff and doing it differently each night, but mainly because this clearly was never meant to be the kind of show with audience interaction. It annoyed me that I was being pulled up for not providing something that the critic expects from comedy, but which I had no intention of providing. I can do audience interaction, but personally think it can be a bit cheap in an Edinburgh show and only a very few comics are brilliant at it and an audience gives more credit than is deserved to most adlibs....
Then I realised I was being ridiculous. It was an OK review and I was getting unreasonably perturbed by a small detail in it. Because I was tired and it's Edinburgh and a few early good gigs had made some horrible, arrogant part of my brain believe that I should be beyond criticism. Also, with the greatest of respect that I can muster here, it is only The Stage.
Edinburgh will get to you whether you are having a bad time or a brilliant time. You need to try and keep in touch with reality, but it is hard.
I've started going to other shows too now. I saw Dan Antopolski last night and thoroughly enjoyed his show. He is charming and witty and does some absolutely brilliant comedy raps (which is not something that happens very often with that particular comedic genre).
This afternoon I saw the batty Bridget Christie, whose vaguely historical show is full of childishness, stupidity, werewolf impressions, drawn on moustaches and sweet self deprecation. She seems much more confident in her persona than she was last year, but still prepared to take risks such as a three minute monologue from an unintelligible virus. As with last year my favourite bit came at the end when she told a story from her actual life - last year about her desolate honeymoon, this year about an embarrassing audition for an advert and then another about her show costumes being eaten by flies.
Later I saw Glenn Wool, who is becoming the most masterful and hypnotic of comedians. He had to deal with a stupid drunk at the beginning, but did so with such firmness and grace and good humour that a potentially show-wrecking beginning was averted and the bouncers who arrived, walkie-talkies crackling, were not required to yank the man out by his head. Glenn has such amazing stage prescence and is undoubtedly one of the coolest and most laid back comics you will see in the Fringe. I was in awe of his magnetism, and his show this year is raw, honest, hilarious and offensive in just the right way. Though maybe not for the people in the back row who walked out when he questioned what the Dalia Lama must have done for karma to meant that China invaded his country.
The variety in these three shows could hardly be greater, but all of them ticked my boxes and are highly recommended.
I went home early after performing to a soporific, overheated audience at Political Animal.
Afterwards I was meant to head to the Pleasance to meet friends, but I was almost pole-axed with weariness and it was pissing down with rain. Still, I walked home (still only one cab and no chips yet in two weeks - amazing), getting soaked as the heavy rain fell, my legs aching with every step. But it was a spectacular walk. Edinburgh Castle exploded with fireworks as I passed it on the descent down the mound and the rain meant the streets were all but deserted. When I got to the National Gallery the little square was full of the sulphorous fumes that had descended from the pyrotechnical display. Even as my body was weakening, the rain was waking my senses and although I was half dead and half drowned I was feeling alive.
As I cam further down the hill, the rain was splashing into the rivulets of water, bubbling up as if boiling in a cauldron. I was glad to come home, but the journey had been a little symphony for the senses and I wouldn't have seen any of that in a taxi (even if I had been able to find one). All this walking must be doing me good, even though I feared that the drenching would precipitate some illness, especially given that my throat was a little raw from booze and shouting.
I didn't drink any alcohol tonight though, but fell into a deep sleep that will hopefully make for a more alert and less paranoid Sunday.

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