I’m doing my first hour show in Edinburgh this year and have decided to blog a little diary about my endevours.
I figure this is going to just like the Vampire Diaries only a lot more sexier. And with a lot more blood.
It’s Edinburgh preview season for most comedians going up to the Fringe. If you don’t know what a preview is, it’s a run out of a show that isn’t ready yet. It is the time in which you take to gain confidence and get braver. Edinburgh previews are essentially the stabilisers on your comedy bike.
I did my first preview in January. I know. Swot. When I say preview, I stood in a room and waffled incoherently to (mainly) friends and family which is what I do most of the time anyway BUT this time I charged them all £3 for the privilege! yeah I did!
I’ve done about ten previews since then and I’ve got five more to go. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until last week that I was starting to feel like things would turn out okay. Edinburgh wise. The thing is you only get one shot at a first Edinburgh show. To do, with a stand up show what The Arctic Monkeys did with their first album. Get noticed.
My show is about my Dad. He is a stand up comedian called Jimmy Cricket. Many people might think doing a show about my Dad is a cynical attempt to get more media attention. Of bloody course it is. I made the decision a few years ago that my first Edinburgh show would be about my Dad because even if my show was about the reproductive habits of the Hippopotamus, whatever reviews or press I got would include that I was ‘Jimmy Cricket’s daughter’. It just would. So why not get it out of the way now by essentially outing myself? By declaring, you want a press angle? Well I will GIVE you a press angle! But I will be milking this angle myself before you get your little font covered mitts all over it!
I do I feel like I’ve probably made it a bit harder for myself going with this angle. Lots of comedians first shows are filled with their greatest hits from doing the rounds of the circuit. Essentially creating a theme around your best material. I couldn’t with this show as it’s so autobiographical and has pretty much one big story arc (and an ill conceived rap). Apart from the odd story or line it’s all pretty much new. Which is terrifying. And until a preview I did last Thursday, something I wasn’t sure I was actually capable of pulling off.
For those of you wondering why the Festival is so very important within the comedy world I will explain. It’s pretty much a trade fair. It’s where comedians get agents, radio commissions, sitcom deals and also a fuckload of debt. It also makes you a better comic. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone from doing twenty minutes at a comedy club to trying to write a fluid hour long show that is structured but at the same time funny. Doing my split show at Edinburgh last year made me a far better comic. It makes you a better because you are gigging every day.
However Edinburgh can be a recipe for disaster and insanity. I saw mates from the circuit unravel during last year’s festival. After spending a hell of a lot of money on room hire, a tech, a PR person, flyers, flyerers one would end up playing to three people every day. Another became obsessed with their reviews, pouring over every adjective and comparing their reviews with other comedians. Another freaked themselves out about the award judges, that they would be in the wrong show, they’d turn up on a bad one so didn’t enjoy doing the show at all for the whole run. Another, to deal with the stress just got totally hammered for the whole run. Take all the insecurities you feel about yourself as a comedian, put them in a blender with a chunk of jealous competitiveness add a dash of terror, a pinch of exhaustion and VIOLA! Edinburgh!
So why would I subject myself to such a thing? To open myself up to such scrutiny and potential rejection? Because there is only so far you can get when you have stabilisers on.
I love being a comedian and I love gigging. I have promoters who regularly book me but there are lots that don’t. I don’t have the contacts or profile to do a lot of the gigs and a lot of the things that I really want to do. I don’t have an agent to fight my corner. I’m doing it all myself. I think I’m a good comedian. I want to be a chuffing GREAT comedian. But I need a bit of notice to get a bit of help.
And that’s what I want out of my first Edinburgh. To be on my way. To take the stabilisers off.