Hush, hush, my lens is cracking…and other selfish genes

I am tired enough to be having one of those imagined “Falling Down” days. In this episode, the occupants of seats B10 and B11 on the 12.57 from Paddington are looking at me with petrified eyes as I stand over them, screaming like a BBC reporter looking at a scientologist spin doctor, “use some fucking headphones if you want to watch Cloudy with motherfucking Meatballs on the train”. Astonishingly, I will be the one deemed to be insane, not the selfish, thoughtless pricks crying with fear. In reality, I say nothing. Unable to concentrate on my book, I have repellent scenarios running through my head, in some I am witty, in others, I am Leatherface. My pet peeve, though it is a pet that must kept in a cellar with a steel leash around its neck, is people’s failure to imagine anyone but themselves. Littering, use of DVD players without headphones on public transport, repeated, boastful swearing or misogynistic sexual anecdotes on carriages where children are clearly on board, all fit into my swollen venn diagram of passive outdoor aggression that makes me aggressive and disappointed.

I read a few things about the Fringe Lager Trophy, it seems that nominees and winners were all worthy, it looked like one of the most interesting lists for some time and, though I haven’t seen his act, everything I read about John Kearns work intrigues me.
I love and hate the Edinburgh fringe. Each year, the actual fringe element seems to become healthier and healthier, the free fringe grows and has lost most, if not all, of its leper status. There is a camaraderie and support amongst a variety of fringe performers that is delightful and plays against the stereotype of the self-obsessed, “crush all in my path”, young, hungry Jimmy Carr image of stand up comedians. I am not as zealous as Michael Legge in my loathing of compliments retweeted, though I worry for our sanity when authors and performers retweet someone saying that they seemed quite nice. I can understand the retweeting of a review when hawking wares, but RTing any semblance of a complimentary comment troubles me. I am easily troubled, a perplexed scowl is my face at rest.

What disappoints me is the flaw that does show up the selfishness of the performer, the eagerness to spread all personal praise, the failure of some to ever bother to use their social media outlets to plug their friends and other comedians. Some do this out of fear – “what if I plug someone and, in the act of that plugging, a reader chooses their show over mine?”
Others may just secretly hate all other comedians and know that, the possible success of others creates such a sense of agony that it would be far more preferable to bask in all those selling worse than you. Instead, you could experience the joy of “accidentally” putting your foot in it, “I saw that Guardian review, I don’t know how they missed the point, everyone I know who has seen your show says it is great”.

The rest may have merely got caught inside a mirrorball where no one else exists, how can they recommend another show when there are no others. There can be only one. There is only one.
There are many comics who plug others, maybe it has just been bad timing that my visits to social media kept coinciding with stand ups adept at self promotion and ignorant of promotion of others. Maybe they see no reason to plug for free when they have spent 3 grand on a PR person for a month. It reminds me of a paranoid writer who gained much work from people recommending him, he was both good and also did a fabulous face of misery that suggested he was down to his last pair of viable underpants before being sent to the workhouse. We eventually found out that he had loads of writing jobs, but kept them secret, for fear that if we knew of these other opportunities, we might snaffle them from him. It became apparent that, despite all the altruism he had relied on, he was selfish, and so, an evolutionary lesson was learnt, and we stopped picking the nits from his back.

I don’t know how many viable pairs of underpants he has now, but I hear his spine his itchy.

I am off touring again – Leicester, Croydon, London, Aldershot, manchester up first, then all the rest. details HERE

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