Backstage at the Fringe: The Comedian


“Hnrnrnrnr…wh?lemme alone…”

My sleep is punctuated by the sound of Rory loudly preparing tea. No – one needs to make tea that loudly.

“Time to get up mate; it’s nearly ten.”

Iain reluctantly removes the rugby sock he ties round his face to block out the world. He blinks in the light of another Edinburgh morning. Our curtains are non – existent. Rory is already by his computer, grimly staring into the void of his exhaustive administrative duties.  The sight of him shovelling cereal into his mouth disgusts and appalls me – when does he chew?

“Gotta get out there,” he mumbles through eighteen mouthfuls of Rice Krispies.

I roll off the floor – bed, trying desperately not to think of the number of other people’s skin cells I’m taking with me. We rotate sleeping arrangements each night, so that we can all get intimate with each other’s scent. It’s a fairly egalitarian system designed to ward off hygiene.

Rory pours himself some more cereal. His eyes never leave the screen.

We stare morosely at each other for about an hour, before pulling on our sweat – stained gimmick t–shirts, ready to pester the apathetic. So begins another day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Once on the Royal Mile (the epicentre of the Fringe and site of mass rejection) we set about trying to sell ourselves to strangers.

“Can I interest you in some free sketch comedy, madam?”

“Free comedy, just for you sir?”

“Anyone for free comedy?”

“Free comedy…anyone?”

The day passes. By the time of our hurried arrival at the venue, we wear the sallow, lobotomised expressions of people who spend the day worshipping at the altar of their own vulnerability.

The show happens. It’s fine.

Then: the inquest.

“Mate, pretty certain you put the chairs slightly too far to the right.”

“Mate, could you say that line a bit, y’know, better?”

“Any chance you could speak up guys?”

“I’ve got a note for you, Tim, in the narrative, could you refrain from using the word ‘belly’ ‘cos I think it detracts from the later line? That cool? Maybe I should just take that line…”

Burning with resentment and false platitudes, we wander back to our flat for a night’s emailing and communal glowering. No shows for us; our unusually hairy shower provides fleeting entertainment.

Back out for another day.

“Free sketch comedy?…….Sir?…….no, that’s fine. I hate it too.”

PHOTO/ Facebook


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