I’m not going to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. The biggest arts festival in the world and the biggest comedy event of the year and I’m not doing a show because I have to save up for a stupid PhD.
Still, doesn’t stop me venting my woes on here for everyone to see, so here we go: Ten reasons I’m really annoyed that I can’t be there – some of which will tell you why you utterly should be there.
1) Seeing all the comedy people in one place. As a comedian I have a lot of friends who are comedians, people I’ve met through gigging. The thing is that people who do comedy don’t just gig in one place so loads of them live at massively disparate ends of the country and sometimes in different countries altogether. Edinburgh represents the chance for me to get together (and get drunk) with people I’ve not seen since last Fringe, and for you to see talent from all over the world.
2) Seeing nights that normally happen in London. Related to number one is the fact that a lot of good or creative comedy nights (such as Alternative Comedy Memorial Society and It Might Get Ugly) happen in London regularly so I never get to see them. I get to make up for that in Edinburgh as they all come up and do a huge amount of shows over the month. Yes. It lasts for a month.
3) The Mosque Kitchen. The go-to place for lunch for comedians and audiences. Its name is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a kitchen that runs out of the back of a mosque and the curry is SUBLIME. And remarkably well priced with massive portions. I would eat there every day if I could and for three weeks of the year I do my best to.
4) Meeting your Heroes. As I said, Edinburgh is the biggest comedy event of the year. It means that a lot of the best comedians in the country hang out there. I’ve been complimented by Tim Vine, got a pound from Stewart Lee while I was busking (if you’re reading this Sir, you’re a generous man), and been scraped off the floor when drunk by lovely people who deserve better than for me to name them. All in all, it’s a great chance to meet your heroes if you’re prepared to be disappointed by them about half the time.
5) Edinburgh is GORGEOUS. Really, do you need more of a reason than the sheer enigmatic beauty of the place? And in August too. I have watched the Sun rise from Arthur’s Seat and I can’t remember a nicer experience. When you’re tired of all the madness of the Fringe it’s easy to find somewhere away from that to wind down and remember that the world is more than just people desperate for you to see their show.
6) Loads of the comedy is FREE. Lots of people do free shows nowadays with one of the free festivals. Sometimes it’ll be a bit hit and miss, but some brilliant acts like Robin Ince, Thom Tuck, Silky and Will Hodgson regularly do free shows and that is almost madness. And in the worst case scenario, that absolutely awful stand-up/musical/poetry-drama could end up being the funniest memory of the month (it always is for me).
7) Mary’s Milk Bar. I lived literally about 3 doors up from this place last year. I’m from Cornwall where Roskilly’s is king, but I don’t mind betraying my heritage and saying that Mary does the best ice-cream you will ever have. Gelato too. Ooh and sorbets. And chocolate. It’s just all very very good. If it’s on, have the chocolate-peanut-banana-caramel ice cream. You won’t regret it.
8) Meeting mad amounts of people. Millions of people visit the Fringe every year, just to watch, and the number of shows on is insane. You meet loads of people, some of whom you forget and some of whom go on to be your best friends. I met my boyfriend at the Fringe. The place is just magic like that.
9) Getting into the Fringe routine. It’s one that would make most people feel violently ill but makes you feel great and awful all at once. My particular one runs thus: Get up; nurse hangover for fifteen minutes; eat something (curry); get out there and flyer like mad until the show (with a break for any spots I might have got elsewhere or a show I desperately want to see); do show; worry about how I did for half an hour; forget everything and go see shows/get drunk/meet up with friends (and get drunk)/have a night in (with wine). Half work, half holiday, all adrenaline. Fantastic.
10) The Work. I know it seems mad that in a place where there is so much to see and do, the thing I’m going to miss the most is the bit that gives me the most stress, worry, depression and fear. Flyering sucks. Having no audience after you’ve been flyering for FIVE HOURS hurts. People telling you you’re a bad comedian – be that in snotty reviews or to your face with lots of swearing – makes even the most stoic of us want to cry in the middle of the night when there’s no one around but you and your insecurity.
But all this does is make every laugh more potent, and every good comment or review mean the absolute world. It’s what makes the words “Three stars, some funny bits” the most relieving sentence known to man. And the joy of performing, of going out and making people laugh with something you wrote, that’s made even more elating by just knowing that, of all the hundreds of shows they could have gone to see, the three people that make up your audience chose to come to see yours. And they will (mostly) be glad they did.