We are a full week in! The Edinburgh Fringe runs for three and bit weeks. There’s what they call Week Zero, which is the first few previews and the first weekend. Then Week One, which started on Monday. We’re half way through that now.
Week Zero is knuckle down time. The drinking is fairly controlled as shows are run in. Performers sensibly call it a night around midnight. They want to be fresh. Like in a new relationship, they want to give their shows the next day the best of themselves. Besides what can a festival bar offer them that their new shiny piece of art can’t?
Yesterday I performed Stay-at-Home Dandy for the seventh time in seven days. I felt tired. It didn’t help that yesterday was what Fringe insiders call Black Wednesday. Black Wednesday is a fairly new concept. It began when the Fringe moved its two-for-one days from Sunday and Monday to Monday and Tuesday. Now, the Wednesday is first full price weekday of the Fringe. Sales inevitably slump.
Stay-at-Home Dandy has been doing ok sales wise, building slowly, but yesterday I played to ten people. Ten. Yeah, I know. And look, it was fine. They liked it, I did a good job, everyone left smiling, but it was hard work. When you’re making jokes on stage your timing is reliant on laughter from the audience. The laughter from ten people is enviably quieter and shorter that that of forty. Your timing gets thrown off. The show is like a car that’s lost its power steering. Afterwards, you ache.
In week zero you’re prepared for all that. Your natural ebullience carries you through. Midway through Week One it knocks you a bit. And after all that I said yesterday about the shows bouying me up!
But hey that’s the Fringe for you! It’s so up and down. Each day feels so long that to violently alter your view on the world and your place in it from day to day seems natural. After all, it feels a life time ago you felt so good about things.
And then, this weekend, the drinking truly starts. All those spices and herbs you bought for cooking with at home sit forlornly on the side as you consume massive pizzas at 3am and wolf down chocolate for breakfast. The shine of your new show dulls slightly. The romance begins to die. You fart in front of it and piss with the door open. Will you and it stand the test of time? To quote Larkin, “we shall find out.”