Edinburgh Agony & Ecstasy
Makes the Ironman Triathlon look like a Day Spa
I just came back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! Hurray!
The biggest arts festival in the world! Double Hurray!
Did my one-hour show for twenty-five consecutive days. Hurray????!
Yes, you read that correctly – 25 consecutive days. What was I thinking? You know what I was thinking? ‘If other people do it … I can do it too.’ Yup. I’m that kind of person. What experts call ‘The Brainless Follower’. You could say I’m like a lemming, ‘If everyone’s jumping off the cliff … I better see what’s down there too …’
That’s the Edinburgh Fringe. You take a huge leap of faith with absolutely no idea what the outcome will be. One comedian said it was like climbing Everest with no oxygen and your Sherpa pulls a sickie. I say doing Edinburgh’s full run makes the Ironman Triathlon look like a day spa.
So why do it? In my case I confess I was under the influence. The influence of motivational quotes.
• ‘Just Do It’ (responsible for most unwanted pregnancies).
• Walt Disney’s ‘If you can dream it you can achieve it’. It’s so sad he never got to see the 5-hour queues and people fainting from heat stroke.
• ‘We become what we think about’ I thought about being the best comedian in the universe!
Instead I became a fully fledge flyerer. Don’t laugh, flyering is tough. It’s like willingly travelling to ‘Rejection Ville’, except you have to smile and be happy! Even after a million people say ‘NO!’ or ignore you completely.
You’ve got one nanosecond to convince passers-by to take a flyer and come to your show. It makes the elevator pitch look like a three-hour sales presentation.
My pitch was ‘If you love Spain, you’ll love my show!’
One man replied, ‘I am French. I love France.’
Another lady said ‘I’ve taken three flyers from you’. I asked ‘So you’re coming to my show?’ she replied, ‘No. I just feel sorry for you’.
I put that day down as a FLYERING INFERNO and tried not to let it get to me.
The worst part was when I’d flyer and half way down the street people would throw the flyer into a bin. I seriously thought about chucking all the flyers in myself, cut out the middle-man.
Once I spotted a Spaniard and said, ‘Come to my show! It’s all about Spain’, he angrily replied, ‘I am a CATALAN! Catalunya is NOT Spain!’ I shouted back, ‘Well as far as I know, it’s STILL part of Spain!’
No of course I didn’t. I said, ‘Independentisme Català!’
Every audience member counts. He came to the show with his family and friends and congratulated me.
I also wore a SANDWICH BOARD everywhere I went. It had my show’s poster and clearly indicated … I had lost all my pride. Not that I had much to begin with. One day I go into a Boots store and instead of the usual ‘May I help you?’, the assistant looks at me, looks at the sandwich board and says, ‘You need help’. I asked for some cough drops and pitched my show. As I said, no pride left.
But it paid off, because guess what? MY SHOW SOLD OUT or ALMOST sold out! Some nights we were even TURNING PEOPLE AWAY! I got great reviews and made it to the ‘WHAT’S HOT’ list! I am honoured that the Spanish Embassy featured my show in their ‘cultural events’ page and I got support from the British and Spanish Society (*).
More importantly, I had so much fun! I welcomed people from more than 28 different countries, all ages and walks of life. From 12-year-old Pete from Liverpool (it was his birthday!) to 86-year-old Henry (ex-surfer and very fit) from California. Nurses, teachers, a fireman, NHS workers, hairdressers, a tax man (not there to check my accounts, thank goodness), IT people, property managers (also known as estate agents), farmers (both sheep and cattle … that show was magic!), doctors, dentists and one man who was being so cagey we called him ‘the MI5 guy’. Turned out he was a reviewer. Gave me four stars. Not boasting, just celebrating success. OK, a little bit of boasting.
Every day and night was different with its own unique challenges. It was exhausting, frustrating (‘where can I find a decent salad in this place!’) but totally worth it. Edinburgh proved to me again that despite our different nationalities, cultures, ages, genders, professions and preferences, we are all united in life, art and laughter.
(*) The British and Spanish Society is an organization that promotes friendship and understanding between our cultures.