I’m experiencing less post-Edinburgh sadness than anticipated. That’s not really a place to start a blog post, but it’s nice. It might still hit me, I suppose, but I’ve been back the better part of a week and I feel surprisingly okay.
I did dye my hair, though. And I got it cut slightly differently. And I bought a new mattress. And I did a gig last night, which was gloriously fun, itself an unexpected thing because my first few gigs after Edinburgh last year were disastrously bad.
New mattress is by Eve and I’ve slept on it two nights now and I’m kind of not sure if I’ve ever loved anything anywhere near this much. Although I think I say that about everything I’m excited about. I have a very short memory when it comes to how much I can love things. I’m always surprised. Also: how grown-up is it to buy yourself a mattress? I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything so grown-up (it might be worth noting that my choice of mattress brand was partially dependent on who would give me financing).
I don’t say “I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything so grown-up” about everything. I do very few grown-up things. Feel anxious, mainly.
Other things that buying myself a mattress is: permanent, because, in case you somehow missed it, I’m a settled immigrant, m’dudes!!! That actually might be the reason for some of the lack of sadness. It felt like I was on borrowed time for so long, but I’m here foreeeeever.
Anyway. You’re the one who overthinks things.
Edinburgh!! Fringe!! Was!! The!! Best!!
Edinburgh is always the best. I think it’s my favourite thing.
Here are the shows I saw:
Alice Fraser – Ethos
Alison Spittle – Worrier Princess
Amanda Palmer – An Evening With Amanda Palmer (final night)
Andrew O’Neill – I Am A Rich Man, And I Have Many Sons (several times; I’m Andrew’s PA, and also he’s one of my genuine favourite comedians ever ever ever)
Andrew O’Neill & Amanda Palmer’s ninja/guerrilla gigs at the Caves and Bannerman’s
Bláithín de Burca – Blá Blá Blá
Elf Lyons – ChiffChaff
Joey Page – Perhaps Under Stars That Would Stretch Forever
John-Luke Roberts – ALL I WANNA DO IS [FX: GUNSHOTS] WITH A [FX: GUN RELOADING] AND A [FX: CASH REGISTER] AND PERFORM SOME COMEDY!
John-Luke Roberts: John-Luke Roberts’ Terrible Wonderful Adaptations (there were three of these; the one I saw was the iTunes Terms & Conditions and there was a surprising amount of male nudity)
Kate Berlant – Communikate
Katherine Ryan – Glitter Room
Lady Rizo – Red, White and Indigo
Matthew Highton – Insufficient Memory
Max & Ivan – Max & Ivan’s Prom Night
Neal Portenza – Neal Portenza’s Final Edinburgh Show Will Be a Bad Magic Show on a Bus. BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Netflix and Amazon Prime Are All Welcome
Pat Cahill – Clagnut
Paul Currie – Hot Donkey
Paul Foot – Image Conscious
Rory O’Keeffe – The 37th Question
Siân Docksey – Interdependent Woman
Tash Goldstone – Jellybean
Tessa Waters – Fully Sik
Tom Ward – Popcorn Lung
Will Seaward – Will Seaward’s Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories V
That’s the easy bit to document. I don’t know where to begin with everything else.
The flat I stayed in was just across from Edinburgh Playhouse, in between an Italian and an Indian restaurant. This was the first time I’ve stayed in a flat with a bunch of other performers, and I absolutely adored it. I shared a bedroom with another comedian, and since I’m not used to sharing space I had slight trepidation going in but it was absolutely wonderful. The comedian I shared with was Siân Docksey, who is a stellar human and an excellent comic and I love her a lot and I really enjoyed our friendship that developed over the course of the month. We’d known each other for a while but not well. She’s the best.
Everyone else in the flat was absolutely wonderful, too. There was Rory, who’d just got a smartphone and wasn’t used to it so had all kinds of autocorrect mishaps (Siân was “Asian”, I was “Lealie”, Tash was “Rash”…); Tash, whom I’d seen at ACMS before and with whom I got along brilliantly and who was indirectly responsible for my getting to do my show at all (she had the same venue and time slot as I did, and was meant to do a full run but shortened it; ta-daaaah, I got the 13th to 25th!); George, who is the same person as me (basically we like a lot of the same music and, unbeknownst to one another, ordered literally the same curry order from the restaurant next door at the same time, and went to collect our orders within moments of one another); Lewis, who I didn’t really get to know at all but seemed very nice; and Rhiannon and Sally, Stiff and Kitsch, who came in midway through but are lovely and positive humans.
The flat itself was absolutely incredible. We’d rented it from some students, and when we arrived we gazed in wonder at this absolute masterpiece in the living room…
Also, the dryer in the flat plays music. I really enjoyed it whenever it did. I guess I probably laughed a lot, since George sent a video of the dryer to our group WhatsApp after we’d mostly all parted ways at the end of the Fringe. “This one’s for Leslie.”
I suppose the first noteworthy thing I should talk about is the ninja/guerrilla gigs that Amanda Palmer and Andrew did. I’ve been a fan of Amanda Palmer for years. The gigs were amazing. The other acts were incredible (Siân was on at the second one!). There are at least two photos of me gazing adoringly at Amanda Palmer when she came into the crowd playing Creep by Radiohead on her ukulele during the first gig.
AT LEAST TWO.
Also, here are two photos I took at that first gig:
After that first show Amanda Palmer, of whom I’ve been a fan for years now, said the words to me, “You must be Leslie.” Because she’s friends with my friend whose PA I am. And this was a huge deal but it was also Edinburgh where everything is so big and so busy and so insane that you kind of move on quickly, don’t fully internalise anything.
“You must be Leslie. You were described as being six foot with rainbow hair.”
After the second show a bunch of us ended up in Banshee Labyrinth and somehow went from having our own private room which was playing heavy metal, with a psychedelic video projecting on the wall… to a party room playing any fucking thing with a video of “Russian fails” projecting on the wall. It was four in the morning and I’d had a fair bit to drink, but I could not stop laughing.
I went to Glasgow on one of my days off. I always mean to, when I go to Scotland, but I normally never leave Edinburgh. But this time I did. It seemed fitting, anyway; it’s where my Grandma was from, and she passed away at the beginning of this year. It seemed like the right year to finally go see the city. And I barely saw any of it but it was incredible and I absolutely intend to go back next time I’m in Edinburgh.
I tried to take a panorama. I couldn’t do it justice. It’s absolutely nothing like Edinburgh, and when I stepped out of the station my heart did funny things.
My Mom is coming to visit in October and we’re talking about going to Scotland while she’s here. I phoned her when I was in Glasgow and told her she should see it, so maybe I’ll be back fairly soon.
In the end I did twelve out of my thirteen shows. (I could’ve done all thirteen, except there was a day where only two people turned up and they’d both seen it in some form previously so it didn’t feel worth it. Both came back on other days, anyway, which was better and also incredibly lovely.)
My first two shows were shambolic. I knew they would be, and warned anyone who was considering coming along about this. They had to be, anyway; I know what I’m like, what I’m like is not polished, plus my final preview had been back in June. But god, it’s wonderful to have a thing and get to work on it every day!! It was the same basic show as I did last year, but I do think it’s come a long way since then, and it was really fun to play around with it!
I got a lot of walk-outs. This is always a weird thing to admit, but also it’s a huge part of the experience, particularly doing a show on the Free Fringe. In general the people who walked out were the same people who wandered in late, or the people who sat around the edges of the room, the people I looked at and didn’t think we’d get along. The people whose presence intimidates me because I’m just an insecure li’l kid, really, doing a vulnerable thing, and this show feels very personal because it is an elaborate metaphor for insecurity in the end and they’d sit there and stare and get briefly into it during the Mad Libs and then they’d eventually leave and I’d feel slightly rejected but mostly hugely relieved.
Plus the people who stayed seemed to really like it. I had someone come back from last year, a wonderful woman who likes my Facebook page and tagged her friend in a comment being excited that I was doing a show. They took a selfie with me afterwards. Imagine. I also one day had an audience member ask if she could have the post-it note where I’d written the Mad Lib. I was surprised, but of course she could!
A lot of friends came along to see me, all of whom I appreciated hugely, but there was something really wonderful about seeing my former and current Scottish coworkers, Rebeca (left), who lives in Glasgow now and travelled to Edinburgh to see me, imagine that!!, and Melissa (right), who was in town with her mum and they came to my show then took me for dinner and we drank lots of rose champagne.
And here’s a photo taken at Brewdog after my fourth(?) show, of an excellent gang of people.
Over the course of the run, I found a great joy in making people cheer for me whenever I wanted to take a drink. I’d explain that my computer, projector and anything else I needed to grab hold of was imaginary, just the same as me, but unfortunately my drink was real, and I was thirsty. And they’d cheer for me. The power!!!
The night I felt the lowest after my show, a day when I’d had only one audience member who’s a friend of mine and I’d paid a flyerer to absolutely no avail and I didn’t know how I was possibly getting it so wrong!!!, blah blah blah, my wonderful and glorious friend Andrew invited me over and we ate pasta and drank tea and ate vegan Ben & Jerry’s and we watched half of Brazil, and it was wonderful and meant the entire world to me. I don’t like feeling like an emotional burden ever, barely like to show emotions around anyone at all, but I need to know I’m allowed to, I guess.
It was just really nice.
I learned a lot from doing the show this year. I’m glad I did my best to make it the show I think it should be; I think just doing it for those seven shows last year wouldn’t have been enough, although I did have moments when I wished I was doing something new and exciting.
I did write a new and hugely exciting bit of material as a result of doing this show, though; I was offered a spot at the amazing Succubus gig (I did two over the course of the month) by my friend Billie, but as it was last-minute and all the stuff for my show was at my venue, and because I love show and tell and so most of my best bits of material involve some kind of visual aid (Mad Libs book, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark book…), I was forced to actually write a bit that I’d had floating around in my head for a month or two.
AND IT REALLY WORKS.
AND I REALLY LOVE IT.
I did it a very small amount of the new material at that gig, and then I did it at ACMS, and then I did it last night at my first gig back and it’s incredibly fun!!!!!
Let’s talk about ACMS, by the way.
I mean, I’ll ramble a bit. You’ll continue reading or not or maybe you’re not reading this at all, in which case you’re not “you” because “you” in this case refers to the reader, whomever you may be (hi).
ACMS is one of my favourite gigs in existence. I cannot overstate how much I love it. I’ve been going to watch as often as I can for quite a while, and when I did my first spot at one of the London shows back in April it was an incredibly big deal. That went amazingly, and when I asked if I could do one of the Edinburgh shows I was given a spot on August 9th. I went on at 2:00 a.m. and somehow missed the fact I was up next but it went really well and I was so, so happy. Then one day nearer the end of the run I was drinking with people outside the bus and ended up getting a last-minute spot for that night’s ACMS.
So now I’ve done ACMS three times, and I can’t fully comprehend that.
Also the amazing producer Isabelle is a fucking force of nature, and I couldn’t believe it when she made a poster of female ACMS acts and my face was there, alongside all these amazing other people. Siân and I both got physical copies of this poster, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to frame mine.
NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BUS. (I… mentioned it very briefly a minute ago.) If you haven’t been to Edinburgh during the Fringe, there’s a venue which is a converted double-decker bus which has a bar and picnic tables surrounding it, and I spent a lot more time drinking there this year than I had in previous years and I just really, really love it.
I probably have a million more things to tell you. I’ll probably remember them all the minute I hit publish on this post. I can tell you how much of an emotional rollercoaster Edinburgh is, how you can go from loving it more than literally anything to sitting in a coffee shop having a tiny sneaky cry because it’s exhausting and your emotions are absolutely everywhere. About how it’s a long month, but if it were even longer I’d still want to be there, because there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be while it’s going on. I can tell you about my plans for next year’s show, which are just that there will be one and it’ll be new and I have no clue what it’s going to be apart from this one 5-7 minute bit of material that’s been incredibly fun all 2.5 times I’ve tried it. I’m excited about comedy in a very real way, and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.
I can tell you about the night after my final show, how I went back to the flat and climbed into bed because all of a sudden I felt all the exhaustion in the world, and eventually I got up enough energy to order a pizza, and I sat in bed and ate pizza and ordered myself a new mattress for home. Did I mention that I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything as much as I love this mattress…?
And I cried on the train home and I felt silly because I don’t like showing emotion and it came on unexpectedly, anyway, and I worried it’d be a really difficult adjustment. But I feel okay, really!
And my hair looks like this now (it’s important to keep my blog apprised of any major hair changes).