As that well-drawn character of Middle Eastern literature once said, ‘It is finished. This gig is done.’
The Edinburgh Fringe, my first as a performer, is over. And I didn’t die. Not even once. I am very much alive, if rather tired now.
The final week was a mixed bag of experiences to be sure.
The penultimate Sunday was challenging. One of the few warm days we enjoyed in the Scottish capital, the room had the feel of an Indian sweat shop when I arrived. Ten minutes later, every seat was filled and one couple sat themselves on the floor.
The fans and the air con unit which provided an complex system of winds around my performance space, were working overtime. But it wasn’t enough and, over the course of my show, six people left as a result of the heat.
At least, I’m telling myself it was the heat.
It was definitely the heat which had overwhelmed Sue from the Isle of Man because I had to stop the show momentarily to ask if she needed my first-aid-in-the-workplace skills.
People leaving a show for whatever reason is disruptive and distracting. Fortunately, I’ve grown accustomed to it and it no longer throws me, unless, like Sue, they look like they’re going to pass out. It’s hard to tell jokes while you’re trying to remember if you’ve purchased public liability insurance.
So when, on Monday evening, a woman told me before the start of the show that she and her son would have to leave before the show’s end time, I was grateful for the advance notice.
But she didn’t leave. She loved the show, found it all utterly hilarious and laughed generously, often and at volume. It was the sort of laugh which generated laughter from others and I was very grateful for it. And her.
It takes a good show to put a bad one to bed.
And then for something different.
Earlier in the month, I’d received an invitation to audition for a talent agency. I’d replied, explaining that I am a presenter and comedian, and quite definitely not an actor, but that I’d be happy to see them if they thought it might be fruitful. Just that they shouldn’t expect me to launch into a Lady Margaret from Richard III or anything recent by Poliakoff.
The invitation stood. Which is how I came to find myself in what looked like a dentist’s waiting room outside a mirrored studio with sprung floors.
The place was heaving with young, flexible people who could reach top C and who were casually dropping to the floor as they limbered up for their auditions.
On a table was a tray of croissant and wrapped chocolate biscuits.
Nobody went near them. Actors don’t eat croissants.
As I am not an actor, I breakfasted in style before ditching my tea cup and waltzing in to see the panel.
It was as close to Britain’s Got Talent as I will ever get. The joy of it was that we skipped the audition bit and went straight to the feedback. Upshot? I got a call back to judge’s houses for breakfast at a later date.
It was an interesting and flattering diversion.
And then we were into the final four shows.
Thursday’s house was full but it was a much less raucous crowd than I’d become used to and I was therefore, inexplicably and unreasonably disappointed. Friday’s audience was small and apparently frightened to smile.
Maybe they all had bad teeth, I told myself.
This was not how I’d hoped things would go.
Other comedians reassured me. “I think I’ve got worse over the run!” said Dave. “No one’s liked my show since Wednesday!” said Ruvan.
By Saturday, I’d cleared up the house we’d been living in, put the dirty sheets in to wash and watered the plants for a final time (yes, they lived and three weeks for a house plant is officially now my record). I was ready to leave.
And then I had the best two shows of the entire run.
Those final audiences were the most appreciative. I was at my most confident and relaxed. The combination was intoxicating.
And I have an addictive personality. Which is why I won’t be able to give up the comedy, no matter what the consequences for my mortgage repayments.
My endorphin high lasted all the way to the Travelodge in Carlisle on the Sunday night.
And now it is over.
Now I am scrolling through forty two thousand work emails, hand washing my sequinned costume dresses and thinking back to how great it was to be connected to mains sewerage for three weeks.
Edinburgh, you were a short term achievable goal. Thank you.
I’ll be back.