Fringe diary

It’s not that I’m keeping a fringe diary as such but when you are not doing a show you have far more time on your hands. Besides, one has to keep their mind occupied as they can no longer venture on the internet for fear of Game of Thrones spoilers.

There’s so much to see in Edinburgh. There’s Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites at the National Museum. There’s also a pretty cool demolition of that big ugly building at the top of Leith Walk I’ve been following on my walk in each morning (more often afternoon). I’ve been trying to encourage friends to join me for both of these but they’re all too busy either socialising or seeing shows.

I’ve got a lot of flyers in my room. But then of course no former flyerer (of the fringe nor student elections) should ever turn a flyer down, even if it means you are contributing to the destruction of the rainforests.

I do adore it here north of the wall but what is up with the weather? I am never wearing the correct garments so people have found great amusement in my cagoule that makes me look like a starfish. Small talk usually follows, usually in the form of “how is your show going?”

Robin Ince said as the fringe began in earnest that one should refrain from telling everyone how great your show is going. I’ve not been on the receiving end of that much myself, on the contrary, crowds have been quiet for some and while the odd show has been “smashed out the park”, it’s always a slow start I’m told.

I had an interesting discussion the other night after a gig (I was merely watching.) (The gig, not the discussion). A gentleman sat at the back, asked me if I was a stand-up. Is there a look about me? We’ll come back to this later. I asked him how he found the gig and he pointed at the only man on the bill commenting that the man in question was his favourite. He then hesitated, pulled a guilty face I’ve seen before and I knew what was coming.

“Do you not find women funny?” I asked.

“I’m a terrible person” was his elusive response — I assumed that was an affirmative. There followed further questioning, I asked him if he found his wife funny, “is she fuck”, he replied as he sipped from what I thought was tap water and turned out to be a Bombay Sapphire which he encouraged me to take a sip from, maybe to prove he was no liar nor teetotaller. In other news, he told me how he had mislaid his wife after they had failed to find the venue, she had given up and gone back to the hotel. “Maybe a wise decision” he remarked dryly.

He said part of the issue was that he just didn’t care what women were discussing on stage. But which women exactly — because he then went onto point to one of the women on the bill saying that while she was funny, that was different because she was working class. I asked him if it was an issue of class rather than gender, he agreed — or at least he said he did. I told him perhaps he should give Suzi Ruffell a go.

So back to the comment on whether I was a stand-up, I reluctantly confessed and he replied with an observation that is always difficult for any comic to defend. “It’s such a narcissistic thing to do.”

What did he expect me to say to that? “Yes I agree, I’m a massive narcissist”? I ended up agreeing with him, and when he commented that he enjoyed playing up in large groups of friends — I enquired as to whether that was narcissistic too, to which he said that perhaps it was.

I felt I was losing the argument but I wasn’t sure if there was an argument to be had anyway. I told him that if you are creating art, you probably have some kind of ego but that you also believe in the art you are creating. I rather wish I had had the conversation after seeing Joseph Morpurgo’s Hammerhead which is widely understood to be a satire about thesps with over-inflated egos, the modern Narcissus perhaps.

Yet I was left defending the position to this man that creative geniuses are too often misunderstood as selfish narcissists. How did I get here?

In other news and I’m sure you don’t care but as well as the Jacobites, do try go and see David Trent, Cally Beaton, Desiree Burch, Fin Taylor and the aforementioned Joe. This list leaves out “friends” — (can your competitors be your friends? I dunno, ask Andy Murray) — because it’s a bit like an Oscar speech in that respect, once you mention one friend, one must mention all?

And now you know who I am categorically not friends with.