Despite another late start – partly because of that fire alarm, and partly because two earlier shows are still running ten minutes late which is VERY NAUGHTY and they REALLY MUST STOP DOING THAT SOON – last night’s show went pretty well, probably a bit better than the first night. Again, I benefited from an extremely good-natured and cheerful and non-pissed/violent audience. Of course, in Edinburgh you’d expect a discerning crowd, but because my venue is so – how can I put it – large, there’s always the prospect of big drunk parties rolling in just before it starts, and changing the atmosphere. The fact that hasn’t yet happened suggests that most people coming are people who want to see me specifically, rather than just going to a comedy show. Fans, in other words, though I still find it embarrassing to put it that way.
So, anyway, thanks once again to the people who’ve come so far (especially those who have posted on this site for the first time as a result). And especially the lady who brought me a lemon last night because she’d seen me cooking on the TV and I promised to try and put some culinary skills into the show if someone brought suitable ingredients. Impressive.
Tonight I’ll be selling/signing copies of the new book after the show, which is partly good for the book itself, but partly allows me to absorb the atmosphere as people are coming out. It’s a bit scary to do this, but also valuable. The weird thing about doing a show to 800 people, rather than, say, 50 or 100 as I’ve done in previous Fringes, is that you don’t quite get the same intensity of reaction when you’re on stage. If you’re shut in a room with fifty people, you pretty much know exactly how much out of ten everyone is enjoying it. A big laugh can really paralyse the room. You can get a palpable sense that you’re connecting with their brains directly. All these things are impossible in a large theatre; you get a vague impression of how much laughter there is, but it’s only vague. Then people clap at the end, the room empties out, and it’s impossible to convince yourself that hundreds and hundreds of souls are going out into the world with an opinion of you, and a judgement on how well you helped them spend your evening.
And if you CAN convince yourself of that, it’s rather frightening in any case, so you try not to think about it too much.
But being at a table afterwards, sheepishly signing books and posing for not-very-good photos taken on phones, is a good way of reconnecting with the reality of your audience and getting some of the ‘buzz’. Also, it means people will read the book. Or at least own it and pretend to have read it. Or give it away. All fine.
So, the show’s selling well, it seems to be going pretty well (though I can still improve it)… what could bring this whole Edinburgh experience crashing round my ears, you might wonder? Normally, it’s reviews. No matter how proud you are of a show, negative reviews can really dent your self-esteem. This year, they won’t have much of a bearing on my sales – because I’ve been here long enough for people to know me – and I’m not eligible for awards and so on, so basically, reviews are irrelevant. But stand-up is so much about self-confidence, and so is life, and as you know, it’s a commodity I find hard to get my hands on.
So in short, I’m ignoring all reviews except tweets and stuff on this website. My management and so on are allowed to forward good ones to me, but if there are lukewarm or bad ones, I don’t want to know. This is a pretty one-eyed and cowardly way of getting through a festival, but it’s better than a breakdown. Plus, I do think it’s scientifically accurate, in a way. These shows are about the ticket-holders enjoying themselves, after all. If I’m pretty confident that – say – 90 percent of them have enjoyed themselves, why does it make sense to read something five days later which claims that, actually, they didn’t?
We’ll see how long this breezy stance lasts. But in the meantime, I am fit and well again – I’ve had sleep and tea. Thanks for all your health advice. I will need it again before August is out, both mental and physical health advice, in fact. But for now, on we go.