Standing-Up: The Documentary (14) … countdown to Edinburgh

A week today, I would have just completed the first of 4 lunchtime stand-up performances at the Edinburgh Free Fringe – and I will be getting legless out of relief or shame or both. I know all this because Ryanair have emailed to remind me. Okay, they didn’t actually remind me about the stand-up or legless stuff, they simply emailed to cheerfully say, ‘5 Days Till Takeoff’ … as apparently I fly to Edinburgh from Barcelona on Friday night. I don’t know what I am dreading more: flying Ryanair, or the sound of no laughter whilst ‘performing’ in Scotland.

‘You are travelling soon and here is some information you need to know,’ they wrote, which is appropriate, seeing as the thinly-disguised theme of my stand-up is ‘Speedy Boarding’. I scanned down the email for the vital information that I needed to know. There was a lot of stuff about ‘mandatory online check-ins’ and ‘10kg cabin bag allowance’ and whether I wanted a ‘£15 Photo Book Voucher’ or a ‘Ryanair Official Cabin Bag’ or a ‘Hop on, Hop off, Edinburgh City Sightseeing Tour’ or whether I wanted to ‘Play & Win the Value of My Booking’ … but nothing about why I was heading to Edinburgh in the first place, nor what information I needed to improve my ‘performance’ or deal with the Scottish hecklers that I am sure to face …

But I am heading to Edinburgh and there is no turning back. Which provokes me to now bring this blog up to date over the next few days so that I can keep a ‘live’ diary whilst there, and to try and put in perspective why I am putting myself through all this.

Barcelona, New York, Madrid, London … now Edinburgh.

Here are the facts and figures: my first attempt at stand-up (see Standing-Up: The Documentary 3) was in Las Cuevas del Sorte, Barcelona, on Sunday 7th October last year, just 10 months ago. During these 10 months, I have repeated the experience only 22 times – with performance times ranging from just 90 seconds to a one-off 35 minutes. For a short period, a ‘mockumentary’ film-crew followed me around – and there is a rumour that they will be reappearing to stalk me again in Edinburgh. If Ryanair can deliver me there safely, I am scheduled to do 4 consecutive ‘lunchtimes’ of approximately 50 minutes each, which is certainly 3 lunchtimes too many. I am therefore totally and utterly nuts.

In my last blog, written in early May, I wrote that I ‘might try stand-up again in the autumn’. That was because Edinburgh hadn’t yet been confirmed and I’d almost given up.

So … to pick up the thread … my 7th attempt at stand-up, after Barcelona and New York, was in Madrid on Thursday 22 November.  I’d been invited to participate (or maybe I’d invited myself) by a great bunch of guys, Dáire McGill, Dan Feist, Just Shaun and Toni Rodriguez, who run and perform in ‘Freshly Squeezed English Comedy’ in Spain. I’d like to think that I didn’t let them down – although I also think they’d been hoping for a larger crowd as they’d been plugging the show on the back of my Madrid book. It was great to be able to ‘spiel’ in one of my favourite cities in the world. The venue was small – a smoky Madrileño bar called Yllana in the Calle Pez. We started around 10pm and the material included some Spanish tongue-twisters or ‘trabalenguas’. Somewhere on YouTube I believe there is a cringeing clip of the performance split over two videos – although at the time I wasn’t aware they had a camera attached to the side of the tiny stage to highlight my 4 chins. The best part of the evening, however, was watching the Freshly Squeezed boys performing ‘Improv’ – a totally new experience for me – something I’d never watched before – they were hysterical. If you are ever in Madrid, I strongly recommend that you go along to watch these very talented performers.

So, this again was supposed to be the last stand-up ‘effort’ I’d do. But 7 days later I suddenly found that I had alot of time on my hands. I would also need to seriously ‘up’ my performance as I was heading to The Library Comedy Club in London (to be continued) …


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