Stand Up Steffan Alun has a fair few things to say about stepping up to stand up at the Free Fringe. We’ve asked him to write an irregular column for us about the whys and indeed hows of performing comedy in Edinburgh.
I am a standup comedian. Although I’ve been to the Festival before, this year is my first time putting on a show. I am so, so excited.
I love my show. It's nothing too ambitious – my friend Phil Cooper and I are splitting an hour on the Free Fringe in a small venue. I love Phil's act so much, and he's so positive - absolutely perfect company for a month in Edinburgh.
This means we’re protected from many of the stresses facing our more experienced friends – the ones performing solo shows in paid venues. They’re worried about reviews, sales and awards. Phil and I are happy as long as we have an audience.
But there’s one stress I hadn’t considered – the stress of being in the green room.
Normally, I can’t get enough of green rooms. I love getting to a gig early to hang out with other comedians, catching up on gossip and news, chatting about standup and the comedy industry.
In Edinburgh, however, it’s almost impossible not to get too much of a good thing. Four days in, I realise I’ve spent almost all my time with comedians, talking about almost nothing but comedy. Whether it’s preparing for a show, reviewing our own performances, recommending shows we’ve seen, seeing which of our friends have been reviewed ... there’s an infinite amount to talk about.
I reckon a necessary skill to develop as a comedian is the ability to make new friends quickly and efficiently. By the third time you see a comic at a gig, you should be friends already. Otherwise, the job becomes grim and lonely.
But fill a city with potential friends, and that skill becomes a curse. I can already feel my voice going, since I’ve spent 64 of the last 96 hours in conversation.
I understand now why some of my more experienced comedian friends like to go to the cinema or watch telly. Even the time we spend watching shows – we spend laughing. Suddenly, time spent in silence is incredibly valuable.