Wow! glad to be home.
After 8 months of planning I arrived in Ed keen to show off the new version of 2 Facedbook... Last year over 2500 people came to see the show live and 800 watched live online. This years version was all about audience interaction, using their mobile phone to heckle me on my Facebook wall which was projected behind me. There was also a live internet feed so that people around the world could watch and heckle.
4 Days in I could not understand why large chunks of my audience were walking out and why no-one seemed interested in interacting. I was completely on the back foot, filling for time, pulling every old story out of the back of my head just to keep the show going until people started getting involved. There was little online input and although some photos etc were hitting the wall, the sheer lack of volume meant there was very little to work with and the energy in the room was not any where near what I was used to from previous years.
I then received a very rude email from one of my returning audience members stating that not only was the show totally rubbish but also that no-one in the audience could get online and interact and thus were leaving disappointed. The internet (the venue had provided) was not keeping up with demand and as soon as a certain level of load was put on it, it went into meltdown. It was no-ones fault, we just did not anticipate this as a potential issue.
During one of these disaster shows a reviewer came in, and not realising anything was wrong, decided that the problem was clearly me and thus wrote a tirade of personal comments the highlights of which include; lecherous hack who belongs in 1962 Butlins (BTW 1962 was the hey day of Butlins!) and that I don't deliver on any level. He then goes on to misquote a story completely leaving out the punchline, in order to support his theory that I am hack and past it. I don't mind that he didn't like the show, I don't care that he disliked me, but I hate that I was so misrepresented because of his inability to listen carefully to the whole story and then get so very personal with his vitriol as a result. He also says that I fail to establish a positive relationship with my audience... every day 30% of this years audience had seen me before and returned for more, I guess they were there simply for the chance to have a relaxing sit down in a large damp cave beneath an Edinburgh bridge and nothing to do with my ability to charm my room.
before the end of the first week, I had to pull the show as we couldn't get the technology to keep up with our demands. I guess the show was soooo cutting edge that it hadn't even been invented yet! :) next year we will attempt time travel and have a working version of the Stargate on stage. Then all the critics can pass through and have a second chance to quote things in context instead of trying to boost their own ratings by ranting about the made up weaknesses of others (although it hasn't done Simon Cowell to badly!)
Matt Price (my friend and my hero) stepped in and suggested I put on a 3 header comedy stand-up show in place of 2FB3. Matt became my anchor man and became completely invaluable and a real source of strength at a time when I was ready to pack up and go home. No matter how tough the audience, and some days were really bad, Matt always managed to turn them around and read their mood perfectly, delivering his outstanding set in a completely different way every day according to how he read the room. It was a real pleasure watching such a pro at work.
2 weeks in and the going was tough but the morale boost came in a very special way. Whilst waiting for my show to start, a coach pulled up outside the venue and a chap jumped off, explained that a whole bunch of them had seen my show the previous year and they had brought their friends and come back for more. I explained that 2FB3 had been cancelled and in its place we were doing straight stand-up... they said they still wanted to see me, whatever the show, and they then filed into, and filled my venue. I felt honored and humbled by the experience but at the same time my Cahonies definitely grew and I was strutting like a prize peacock by the end of the evening.
On my other show We Love Comedy which was a showcase show for other comics to promote their slots elsewhere or for new comics to learn their trade. I made sure that up to 3 of the 5 comics everyday were newer and less experienced acts and gave them an opportunity to play a big stage in an environment that allowed them the room to be not quite as good as some of the bigger names that I booked. It was great fun seeing some of these people growing as comedians over the course of the month and thus leaving Ed far better than when they arrived.
The nightlife, the parties and the Loft Bar is as much a reason to go to the Ed Fest for a month as the performing and networking. It was often chilling out with my friends and talking absolute bollocks until the sun came up which kept me sane... although my measure of sanity cannot be relied upon in the real world. :) My good friend Rory (who worked for me on my shows) however could always be relied upon just to be himself and that was often funnier than the guys we saw on stage, but for all the wrong reasons.
After 85 performances; I had some great gigs and I had some awful ones. I met some great people and consistently ate over priced and poor quality food. However, the one treasure I will take with me from this years Fringe is the knowledge that I have some wonderful friends who can be totally relied upon when you need them and I consider it a privilege to be counted among such talented and loyal individuals. There were times that i was so fed up I wanted to cry, but they always lifted me up and urged me onward.
If comedy never brings me fame or fortune it will always be the thing that gives me something money can't buy; the company of some really great people who seem to like my company too. What more could I ever ask for? I am indeed infamous and fortunate!