It is the scrutiny that drives the Edinburgh performer insane, even though they crave it.
I would quite happily get through the whole Edinburgh festival without a single critic disemboweling me. I have been predominantly ignored by them most years (as far as I know, I stopped looking some years ago). All I want to do is create the best show I can, or that I believe I can. There may be a shortfall there. Nevertheless, with a city paved with eager souls, eager posters and eager leafleteers, it does not feel like just another night.
In real life, the Edinburgh Fringe is not real life, it is The Village of The Prisoner with everyone hoping to find out they are no.1, gigs do not have the same impending fragility.
You do not turn up to the Trinity Art Centre, Tunbridge Wells, or Chapter Arts in Cardiff comparing the number of stars stapled to your poster compared to the rest. You don’t even have to try, the media darlings are soon apparent even to the most casual eye. The critical victory of a friend becomes a stab in the heart for some. Everything matters too much.
Sane individuals start retweeting the slightest compliment. Acts purchase felt tips and stencils that will help them add a star to their review before photocopying.
As I mentioned before, I am struggling a little with my shows as someone has stolen my original voice and replaced it with a fading echo of Tommy Vance’s, a cracked rumble and occasional squeak. This would annoy me at the best of times. It appears my thoughts are led by my speed of delivery. My mental processes are directly connected to my larynx.
I feel a guilt when I don’t deliver what I had hoped to an audience. My inner monologue is a hectic beast. While there is one voice coming out of my mouth during a performance, there are a couple of others inside my skull, one lurking closer to my reptilian brain stem than the other. As one hurls out non-sequiturs and possible tangents based on the flimsiest of mental links, an id with ambitions as a poet, the top of the brain stem is filled with suspicion that gig collapse is just around the corner. He is in charge of magnifying the silence between gagish sentences, of monitoring every possible ghost of a cough that hints at boredom, and who draws imagined faces of disinterest on the front row.
He has been busy during the last 36 hours as I have felt I have lost command of my show.
I know the potential of my shows, and they have already reached it on one or two occasions, to watch that slip away due to cracked chords is excruciating. I have come here only to try and do my best, I am not hoping for fame or opportunity, beyond the opportunity of continuing to do what I do.
How stupid that so many fragile egos should put themselves on display at such regular intervals. I don’t know whether to blame the parents or the dopamine or both.
(and thanks to everyone who offered advice for throat balms. I have bought honey from the most exclusive of bees)
May I recommend John Luke Roberts, Baba Brinkman and Heather Berlin, Sara Pascoe, Josie Long, Nathaniel Metcalfe, Ridiculusmus if you are in Edinburgh. More to be added soon.
My Edinburgh nonsense is found HERE (that is the quite psychotic show) and HERE (that’s the more science-y one) then I travel the UK for a few more months from Leicester and Sheffield to Exeter and Newcastle HERE