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From the fringe: Week 4

Tuesday 26th August 2014

For the past four weeks, comedian Joseph Moore has been performing in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, with FanFiction Comedy. Here’s the last installment of his weekly blog documenting his “experiences, creative highs, and no doubt psychological rock bottoms at this bloody draining festival”.

FanFiction Comedy’s first show at the Edinburgh Fringe four weeks ago was to a middling crowd of 20 or so people. Over the course of the month, we gained momentum, selling out multiple shows, and sometimes turning punters away at the door. All up, we’ve performed to more than a thousand people. But all great blogs have circular narratives, and today we did our triumphant final show of the festival to a middling crowd of 20 or so people.  Shit this town is fickle.

So that’s it. That’s what I came here for. Tomorrow, thousands of flyers will be on their way to a landfill; airlines will be making a killing from charging excess baggage fees on double basses; and I’ll back en route to New Zealand. I’ve already looked up what movies will be on Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, and jotted down a tentative game plan (Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks like it’ll be a real highlight).

A picture of comedian Brendon Green eating a burrito very dejectedly
Comedian Brendon Green tries and fails to eat a burrito

Photo: Supplied

But first I’ve got to clean out this ridiculously expensive flat so the landlord can go back to renting it to normal students for a normal price, like I assume he does the other 11 months of the year. My room is carpeted with a thick layer of flyers for shows I will never see, and no doubt some that hardly anyone saw at all, and beneath that a month’s worth of coins. (Can’t believe this country is still trying to make coins happen. It’s like living in Smaug’s den.)

I go to clean out the fridge. It’s still clean. I’ve put nothing in it. In four weeks, I have cooked once. I move onto the bathroom and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I look awful. Defeated. Bags under my eyes bigger than the credit card bill I’ll be getting at the end of the month. I pause to throw up for a bit. (I should mention at this point I am devastatingly hungover.) What on earth have I done to myself?

I’ve spent an entire month doing the exact same thing every day. At least in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray learned important life lessons and ultimately grew as a person. Here, every day’s a challenge in how much cider and chips you can eat, and you ultimately grow by about four kilograms. This festival takes so much out of you that basic functions seem hard to master. Last week my friend Brendon ate a burrito and somehow managed to get tin foil in his hair.

And for what? Comedy? That’s not a real thing. It isn’t a job, it isn’t a lifestyle, it isn’t helping anyone. I’m done, Edinburgh. I’m sick of you. Sick of your cobblestones. Sick of your beautiful old buildings that are too beautiful and old to get 3G reception. Sick of the time difference that means I am at the pub when my girlfriend is at work or at the gym, generally resulting in very tonally inconsistent iMessages. Sick of the ambulances that drive past by my bedroom window every half-hour from 7am. (“They just use their sirens to get to the McDonald’s faster,” a gruff tattooed taxi driver told me confidently. “Everybody knows they do.”)

I’m bloody done.

A picture of FanFiction Comedy flyers in a bin
FanFiction Comedy: Fin

Photo: Supplied

I go to my local internet café. I’ve spent a couple of hours a day here since I first arrived, writing ‘topical jokes’ for a local radio station back home. It smells like a mixture of incense and the varying body odours of whatever old person is sitting next to you. I peruse for a while, catching up on everything. I read about Dirty Politics, I read about whatever Lorde did in the last 12 hours, I read about a guy getting stuck in the ventilation shaft whilst trying to rob a fish’n’chip shop. Even surrounded by the world’s most talented comedians, I don’t think anything makes me laugh more than New Zealand, generally. I’m looking forward to getting back.

I occasionally hear more experienced comedians back home ragging on the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s a waste of money!  You’ll get swallowed whole! You couldn’t pay me to go back! And despite the premature post-holiday-depression that I’ve let consume me for most of this blog, I still couldn’t disagree with them more. It’s the shitty aspects of the Edinburgh Fringe that make it, in my opinion, a vital experience for an up-and-coming (or seasoned) performer. To put yourself through such a ridiculous period in the pursuit of art is only going to make you better at what you do. To sell any tickets here is an achievement, and learning to set yourself apart from the thousands of others is what helps you grow. No one became a superstar of the Fringe by being mediocre.

I’ve got one free day before I head home. One free day after 40. I’m going to buy some presents for friends, take a walk up a hill, and go to that vegetarian restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. Then I’m going to go to four shows I bought tickets for because I’m an idiot who didn’t foresee that I would be sick of going to shows by now. Oh well, I’ll still go see them. And take mental notes on how I’d do it better. Cos I’m comin’ back! Next year, I’m takin’ over! (Takin’ over = do marginally better than this year. Progress is important.)

This content is brought to you with funding assistance from New Zealand On Air.

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