Saturday, 20 September 2008

Edinburgh Fringe Pt1 - flying lessons

Edinburgh Fringe 08 was such babble of high res stimulus.. that had I been attached to one of Bransons balloons, he would have managed to circle the globe 3 times before being forced to land just to empty the chemical toilet!

Over 25 days I did around 70 performances, 46 pints of Guinness, 14 pints of Heineken, 8 cuban cigars, 20 single malt whiskies (just one lump of ice in each,) 20 litres of coke (coca-cola not coca-caine!) & 1 glass of orange juice (but only because I thought it had Gin in it!)

Each day started around 2 pm when I would leave my campervan and a walk half mile of countryside and then fly 20 mins on the top deck front seat of the Midlothian Omnibus. The first show of the day, a panel show, was at 4 pm preceded by an hour of giving-out flyers and taking-in copious amounts of coffee and crepes. After show 1, then off to several other venues around the city to perform guests spots on other peoples shows. After a hearty meal of haggis I would then casually saunter down to the White Horse by 8-30 for more flyers and streetwise banter. At 9-30 the lights warmed the cheeks of a verbally semi naked double act between David Mulholland & I. Quick dash to another guest spot, then roll into the Library Bar around 1am.

The Library Bar was the place to book if you are in any way involved in the Fringe. It was fun and full of Luvvies dancing Jazz hands through the cold air of their insincerity. Once tired of air kissing drama students, I would head up stairs to the very much more exclusive (don't you know!) Loft Bar. Now, the Loft Bar was mainly access by special pass only.... after a deft 10 minutes of charming a hot authoritative lady, my cooling words landed said special pass and heavens doors were opened to me. The rest of the story is just verbal mud wrestling in seas of Pimms bubbles with the rich and famous. By 5am my hobnobbing climaxed and networking would be satiated by the haunting call for last orders. The night bus, (back seat bottom deck,) would then deliver me safely back to the womb of my little bungalow on wheels.

This is one days routine... I did this pretty consistently over 25 days, with a few parties and an occasional afternoon in the M&S food hall just to break the monotony a little. After such a gruelling and relentless routine, I was glad to come home just to give my liver time to forgive me and my head time to repent. Arriving back in Newport felt like peace had been declared. The cacophony of Edinburgh made Newport seem like a sleepy village, Newport outdoor market became a village fete and a Newport saturday night seemed like a loud whisper in a reading room.

The adjustment has been genuinely difficult, but Im glad to be back.... making plans now for next year - my first solo show 'Come Fly with Me.' ?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Why the long silence?

This year has been really tough. The silence in my blogs is a reflection of the silence in my head!

After the heady success of last year and my swift progress in the funny world, this year landed with the lifeless thud of an autumn apple.

I spent so much time and money pursuing gigs last year (sometimes up to 5 a week at opposite ends of the country) that after Christmas I had to get back into the real world and work hard at my day job to pay the bills.

Between January and August this year I have only done around 40 gigs. By comparison, at this Edinburgh fringe during August, I did around 70 performances in 25 days. At least the shows I am now getting are paid gigs and thus the rewards are beginning to match the effort.

Not being constantly in the limelight and needing to work hard doing a very physical job, left me feeling flat and without enough energy. Not even enough to come into this blog confessional booth and ask for absolution.

Another issue which has stifled my cerebral cosmic juices is my constant fight against Manic Depression. This year has been tough because for the first time ever I have had a long period of very flat, almost apathetic moods. I have never had a moment in my life when I have not been passionate about something, raving and behaving in reaction to whichever wind blows my way. So to feel nothing and be neither up of down is a very strange place indeed.

12 years ago the doctors told me I was bi-polar and I would need to be on drugs to stabilise my mood, probably for the rest of my life. During the 3 years of taking the medication I formulated a series of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in order to manage my condition myself. I have self managed (without medication) for 9 years and have battled (successfully) to remain stable. I have worked hard in all areas of my life and have continued healthily, financially & socially quite successfully.
However, as with every battle, there is one draw back. You see, I have to be on my guard and constantly, I need to carefully monitor my behaviour and motivations in order to counter the mood swings before they happen.
The draw back is ,that it can be quite mentally tiring, it can drain you of at least half of your energy, whilst earning a living and caring for the family, takes up the rest. I have always been determined to keep working and have never ever claimed benefits of any kind. Whilst this sounds a little noble, its actually an important part of the solution. Having focus in life and routine is one of the many weapons used in controlling the beast.

During the last 5 years I have helped mentor several other people with the same condition. Helping them understand that there is a future for them, a future where self respect, control and stability are actually possible. Through using the techniques which worked for me, and tailoring them to the needs and circumstances of each individual there is always a vast improvement.

This years Edinburgh fringe was a great boost for me. I am now an better comic than I have ever been and I have even more determination to make it a full time career. With the renewed energy, confidence and enthusiasm, I am ready to start causing trouble again.

I have set myself new goals for the year ahead before the next Edinburgh Fringe. The Edinburgh Fringe has become my Christmas and New Year all rolled into one. I have so much fun up there and gain so much, in so many ways that it is now my official year end and thus September is now my January and here are my new years resolutions.

1. Complete the records of my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methods which help to combat Bi-Polar disorders and make them available to others.

& Be an even better Comic and write a one-man show for next years Edinburgh

5& Be a better person than I was last year.

I guess that will do for now.... tune in this time next year and if I am not dribbling in the corner of a psychiatric ward somewhere, I may be a little more content than I am now with a few more goals achieved.

What are you going to do? C'mon speak up!