Edinburgh 2013: Black Wednesday and the concept of a “Noble Failure”…

The title for today’s blog comes from this, which I went to see for the first time tonight (image is from their website):


and oh my god it was amazing. A noble failure indeed. I honestly hurt in muscles I haven’t even been aware of the existence of since the last time I went running (it was a LONG TIME AGO). I would suggest you go see it, but the issue is that I’m extremely sure of the fact that it is for a certain type of comedy fan. And thank goodness I’m one of them. Basically, if you’re me, it’s perfect.

But the reason it’s the title of the blog today is not just because this was so brilliant. 

No one turned up to our show today. Not one single person. Today (even though I’m writing this at three the next morning – actually, thinking about it, I’m probably going to have to go to sleep soon!) is Black Wednesday in Edinburgh, when the first flush of the festival has worn off and everyone is a bit cultured out… not to mention probably nursing their hangovers from nearly a whole week drowning in whisky and other, inferior, boozes. And so it’s a hard day to get people in anywhere. So we got no one. Not to mention that I was still feeling fairly guilty and awful over my Monday night excursions (I say excursion because the word “adventure” would suggest that it was a lot more fun for all concerned than it was), so I wasn’t exactly in the mood for any kind of comedy or promotion for said supposed hilarity anyway, But last time I did Edinburgh, even the days when just two people turned up, we never had a show with no one there. The sinking feeling you get as you realise you should have started ten minutes ago is pretty bad in itself, and even worse when coupled with the show of false optimism that for some reason you feel you must make, even though you know that the others are feeling exactly the same as you are. For some reason you cling to that tiny shred of hope that someone *will* turn up. They have to, right?

But they didn’t. They really really didn’t.

However, some good came out of this, as it gave me a chance to practice the new bits I have decided to put into my set (the first one was recommended to me as a good starting joke to get the measure of the audience)  – there’s only a couple of them but in about ten minutes they went from vague ideas to full sentences with words and everything. One of them is a small lecture on the correct usage of a semi-colon. This could be interesting.

Even though that was useful to me, I still felt rubbish. You come to Edinburgh to meet people and show people your art so that it can develop, and you with it. This doesn’t happen if people don’t turn up. I needed a confidence boost. Which brings me on to the good shit.

The benefit of Black Wednesday is that if you’re looking to go see something, this is the one day you might get tickets for it. Not that we hadn’t already booked the shows we were going to see of course, but I’m glad to know that even if we hadn’t we might have been able to see something just as awesome.

As it was, we went to see Daniel Simonsen, a Norwegian comic who was actually incredible. The hour flew by and I could have sat through another hour of it with ease, though I may have stopped breathing. Then an hour to recover before we went to ACMS. At which Simonsen did another set. In Norwegian. NICE. The other acts were also experimental, different, or just doing what they thought would be funny as opposed to what they knew would work. It was the funnest comedy night I’ve ever been to, full of the weird and wonderful, and the shouts of “A failure!” “A Noble Failure!” after every act rang out happily as the comperes took the stage.

The thing about what we went to see is that it was all “alternative comedy”.  As I say, not one act felt afraid of doing something a bit weird (the one that stands out was a guy that came out with a fake nose, sunglasses and an upside down visor, announced himself as George Michael and sang the entirety of “Wake me up before you go go”… it actually broke me), or something that might not work, and the audience were totally up for that. And it was a joy to see. Because it was funny. Another audience might not have found it so, but I know I would have regardless.

It was the confidence boost I so desperately needed. I realised that I have to have confidence in my material. And more importantly than that, I have to have fun. Because if I don’t love what I do, there is literally no point in doing it. Much as it would be nice to actually have an audience full stop, I don’t need to worry what every single one of them thinks. Because not all of them are people I would otherwise care about the opinions of. And I’m nothing but me onstage really, so why should I care more about what people think just because I’m up a bit higher?

Yours more happily,
Me xx

(Oh yeah, PS: I’m sure people are wondering how I’ve recovered from said excursions on Monday. Well – I’m still fairly embarrassed, but I’ve apologised to who I need to. That’s pretty much it.)


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