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Wednesday 6th August 2008

This was a really full Fringe day. It started with another good review this time in the Metro. The tally is now two 5 star and two 4 star reviews, which is a phenomenal start, in what promises to be my most successful Fringe ever. Though evenso, whilst TV comics are selling 750 tickets a night, I am still not completely selling out, though numbers are healthy.
But when I was woken up at 8.15 by Andrew Collings knocking on my door, I had little time to consider all these things. We had two podcasts to record, the first, of course, being live in front of an audience (if anyone turned up) and we were both slightly concerned to see the rain pouring down outside. It would be a real test of the resolve of the Collings and Herrin nerd army, not only to have to be up and out by 10.30am, but also to brave the weather and be unemployed.
We didn't break my resolve and get a taxi, but walked through the rain to the Underbelly, which was pretty sleepy at 9.45am. Literally in the case of Ted, one of the dedicated crew of this fine venue, who had conked out on a sofa in one of the bars. These guys are pushed to their limits and do a fantastic job, so we tip-toed around him, allowing a few more precious moments of zs.
I wasn't sure how funny I would be at this time of the morning (even though we do our podcasts this early usually, in Edinburgh time, this was like 5am) and we were excited and slightly nervy about the prospect of what it would be like and how many people would come. But about 100 supernerds made it through the rain to watch us, including our celebrity fan, one of the blokes from Pappy's Fun Club.
And it all went really well. Having an audience to show off to helped pick up my energy and it was good to see that references to other episodes got the laughter of recognition (such as when I said a woman who had paid thousands of pounds to get 5 clones of her dead dog made Andrew's mum "look like a genius").
Amongst the pasty faced computer geeks who looked like they had spent less time outside than Elizabeth Fritzel, was one sharply dressed, healthy faced man in a suit. He turned out to be a lawyer, which was useful in trying to determine when we had been libelous. He confirmed that we couldn't libel the dead, but when I wrongly implied that Roy Walker was dead I wondered if it was OK to libel someone if you think that they are deceased. You can hear it all here as usual.
My plan to get everyone down to the Tempting Tattie did not go quite as well as I hoped. I tried to spur the crowd on and though some of them were clearly up for the long walk through the rain to buy a stodgy jacket potato, most were apathetic. I didn't want to end up with just five of us going. Really for the plan to work we'd need at least half of these people to come along and form a snaking queue down Jeffrey's St in the rain. But people like the lawyer had to go back to work and we were left with a ragbag procession of twelve pasty faced, unwashed spods (a dirty dozen if you will) who followed me all the way up Cowgate, like I was some kind of Pied Piper employed to rid Edinburgh of the socially awkward.
I am of course, being lighthearted about my fellow travellers. These men (and a couple of women) were true heroes, joining in with an exciting and subversive happening. We weren't going to break the Tempting Tattie and force it to close down for the day, but we were going to bring the proprietor an additional profit of about £18 for the day. I could imagine him at home that night, counting out his takings and looking at his wife, his eyes full of tears, viewing me as a kind of god.
So the tiny shop suddenly became rather full just before midday and the queue stretched just outside the door. I was handed my potato without even having to be asked what I wanted. Collings asked for what I was having, which made me think it would be rather nice if the medium potato with cheese and mango chutney just became known as "The Richard Herring", like in that episode of Curb, where Larry David gets a sandwich named after him.
It wasn't quite the spectacle I had hoped it might be, but in a way that made it funnier. It was a slightly lame happening, but those twelve people were brought together by a love of a strange podcast and a willingness to eat a baked potato and I hope that maybe a life long love affair might have begun in that queue. Even the bloke from Pappy's Fun Club was there, which shows that he hadn't allowed his if.com award nomination 2007 go to his head. He could eat baked potato with the lowest of human beings, like a kind of new, improved Jesus.
Andrew and me though didn't have time to break potato with this scum, we took our polystyrene containers back to my flat to record next week's podcast. This was a brilliant idea as during the 20 minute walk the cheese melted into the potato, making a wonderful meal a hundred times better and also meaning the chutney didn't stick to the lid. So that's a tip for you when you visit the shop (which you MUST do if you are in Edinburgh - just ask for the Richard Herring).
I had been feeling quite awake, but suddenly thanks to the soporific effects of a stomach full of cheese and spud I felt a bit weary. But we managed to record a second podcast, which although a bit inferior will certainly fill the gap when we release it on Friday week. Then we're going to have a week off.
I had to have a little sleep after that, but woke after an hour or so and managed a good work out at the gym, before walking up to the Underbelly in the pissing rain and doing my actual show. I walked on stage with my hair still damp, thanked the two thirds full crowd for braving the weather and then said, "Let your laughter be my hairdryer." They laughed, which was apt and continued to do so, being one of the jolliest crowds I have had all festival. I am still really enjoying myself, even after a potentially exhausting day.
Afterwards I got drunk with Collings and for the third day in a row went for a late second dinner (which may be the undoing of my diet at least in the short term). As we stood pissed in the pissing rain my resolve finally snapped and we hailed a cab, but it was for the easier downhill journey and I don't feel too bad about it, given the inclement conditions and how I had already walked about three miles that day (and been to the gym - let's ignore the Guinness).
It had been a really fun day.
Thanks again to Vik Peek for all the photos of us on stage.

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