Edinburgh Fringe Diaries | Aug 16th | The Bucket

We’ve got a supersized edition of our Fringe Diaries today. Here’s what everybody was up to over the weekend and Monday.

Alison Spittle

Aug 13th

it’s 1 AM. I’ve had two slips today.
Today I sold out, I’ve been doing this a few times this week, I’ve a nice small room and two great flyerers. I exit-flyer shows who have the audience I’d like.
My show is supposed to be a silly show about mental health, today I’d to turn people away while eight seats were empty waiting for the pre-booked audience that never came. Doing a show at 13.45 is like doing a show at 10 AM in normal time, there’s a big chance people oversleep.

Today was my worst gig, I felt a lack of connection with the audience, A lady kept staring at her watch and I began to talk into the ground, I questioned myself. I rushed through the gig to be honest and got the worst bucket today by a margin.
I went to the shop and bought ten Benson & Hedges, I gave up two years ago on a whim and today I thought feck it, I was enveloped with frustration. something wasn’t adding up.
Last night I tried to meet up with the Irish lads. We’ve a whatsapp group and I won’t lie I’ve been so wrapped up in my show, my sense of community hasn’t been great. I feel like everyone is bonding doing spots together and I’ve stayed in working on a project and watching the Olympics. I passed them by today and was in a rush and I’m frustrated because I do care. I read the diary entries, I feel for them, I understand. Phone reception is desperate here and so is the wifi, offers of coffee and meet ups are destroyed by twenty minute delays between answers. In short I’ve been shit.
Last night I got a message saying that a few of the lads were in a bar. “Feck it.” I thought, “I’ll walk down”, I’m not drinking this month due to my trouble with hangovers, I’m here to work as hard as I can and I can’t do it hungover. I walk in trying to spot a clump of lovely Irish comedians when I hear a roar “come ‘ere yoo” I turn and a bouncer is pushing his way through the crowd, he’s pointing at me “get oot, you’re drunk”. I laughed, I wasn’t. I asked him if he was pranking me, this made him angrier he then told me i caused trouble across the road and I was to be thrown out, I asked for management, I asked him to smell my breath but he was adamant. I started crying and he realised I wasn’t the culprit or he just felt awkward. It was a case of mistaken identity, it tickles me that someone who looks like me is being bold somewhere. I decided to leave and meet the lads another time.
I met my friend for dinner, she ordered a bottle of wine and after the weird night and shit gig it tasted good, I ordered a sorbet and vodka and it tasted better. i went back to that bar past the same bouncer and said “now i’m drunk” and he let me in.
I saw Chris Gethard today, inspired me so much, he’s talking about mental health the right way and I’ve a lot to learn.

Cornelius O’Sullivan

Aug 12th

I’m up early. 9:41am. That’s early guys. Anyway, this piece better pick up fast or you’ll  click out of it and move on to something else. That’s humans nowadays for ya I guess… Impatient. I’m not of course having a go at humans, I am after all one too. But we are now an impatient lot.

Yesterday’s show was, it was…. difficult. I have to say all of our shows this fringe have been “not bad” ( this is my flyering sales pitch. A welcome change in my opinion to the myriad of flyers over here claiming their show is the best thing in the WORLD! EVER! ).  That said yesterday’s one was challenging.

I opened the show to 3 people. Yup, you read that right. I’ll even type it in case you think I forgot to put in a zero. Three! In a perverse way I was happy. One time a few years back I played to four so this was a new record… If not an unwelcome one. But ten minuets into my set Mary & Moria ( it was a first name basis kinda gig ) sauntered in making this new world record defunct. Kinda like an Olympics 100 meters new record being set only to be revoked due to high wind residence. I now feel their pain. My record goes back to four.

Anyway, as you can imagine it was an intimate show. One I enjoyed performing as it challenges you in a whole different way. The feedback we got after was good too as was the bucket despite the attendance. Here’s hoping we have a larger audience today. With that I gotta go flyering….

Aug 13th

The venue for our show is called, “The Cellar Monkey”. It’s right at the periphery of the fringe. Almost in Dundee, I joked with a person I was flyering the other day. It is quite a walk from the epicentre of the festival. We don’t get walk ins. We don’t get stragglers. Flyering is working at a rate of 1 person to every 250 flyers…. pathetic. To come to our show is a commitment. You have to want to. You pack an overnight bag just in case and bring a compass. The app and the booklet (which house thousands of shows) is our only hope and we cling to it like mountaineer clutches to a sharp edgy cliff top, to save our lives. It’s our only hope.

Yesterday when we realised with three minutes to go, that our very cool, underground cellar venue with a capacity of twenty two had but two lonely souls sat in her, I sank my head into my flyer weary hands and thought of my six month pregnant wife at home. It was Anthony’s turn to open and even though we collectively  prayed like an atheist might on his death bed, it was futile. Our crowd were this pair.  But, the show MUST go on!

To his eternal credit Anthony went out and though there were only two of them (Callum & Billy), he got them onside immediately and they were enjoying his witty self depreciating banter from the get go. Just over half way through his set something miraculous happened though. Our atheistic prayers were answered and in stormed six more comedy campers  with their tents and compasses. Suddenly we were at eight eagle eyed punters. The room went from 10% full to 40% in the blink of an eye. I won’t bore ye with the details of what turned out to be a great show but I’ll finish with this…

Success is judged by what you take in the bucket after the show. Let’s put it this way…. We ate like normal people who have minimum wage jobs…. That may sound shit to you guys, but to us it felt like, victory.

Aug 14th

It’s Sunday morning. I’m in my apartment lying on my bed. If I don’t get up soon I’ll miss mass. That will make it nine years and counting. Always next week I guess. Four days remain of this maiden voyage. Like any sailor away at sea I’m looking forward to a home cooked meal and a reasonable return of some regularity to my days. Most of all I can’t wait to see my beautiful wife, I miss her dearly…. Still it’s four days till this comedy ship docks so it’s full steam ahead till then…

There is no denying that the past week was challenging in terms of crowds. Yesterday though, well, yesterday made up for it all. Twenty eight human beings sought us out. Each and every one of them complaining on arrival at how difficult the venue was to find ( like we didn’t already know ). Standing room only by 1:15pm. We did it! We sold out one show.

Our show is called “The Irish Alternative”, we are three comics all alternative to each other. Therefore giving an audience a chance to experience different comedy stylistics within one hour.  I’d like to think that yesterday was the greatest show ever in the history of the fringe. Or at least in the top two. Anyway when the show was over we collected enough cash to splash out on a Nando’s and still have some walking around money. This is how Des Bishop must live, I thought to myself as I munched on some delicious chicken breast and squandered the remaining coleslaw. Wow what a life he has…

Anthony Riordan

Day 8. I grab the mic and introduce myself to the two twenty something men sat in the middle seats of the fourth row. I’m opening The Irish Alternative. A task we rotate between the three of us so everybody gets a chance to close, middle and open the show(in order of preference). The two men have a look of shock on their face as they realise the show is going ahead and they’re the entire audience. I point this out to them and they begin laughing. Within five minutes I’m enjoying myself. The two guys are Billy and Campbell. Billy is your typical long haired, beardy comedy nerd. My people. Campbell is more of a foppish handsome Hugh Grant type, despite this I liked him. It felt like I was just chatting with some mates down the pub. Then fifteen minutes into my twenty minute set, in walks six people. The audacity. I was going to have a record breaking show. The least amount of people I’d ever performed to before that was five. Now it doesn’t count(or at least that’s what Cornelius tells me and he is officially the comedy police). We take a little over £20 so I find some solace in the bucket.

Got up early to go flyering. As I was walking to my usual spot in the meadows I spy Stewart Lee pottering along. I’m a huge fan and I’d love a picture but I can see he’s with his family so I decide against hassling him. Instead I simply smile at him. I was hoping for a smile back or a knowing nod from one comedian to another(not sure how he’d know) as if to say “Hey man, keep up the good work”. Instead he grimaced, grabbed his children and held them close like he was trying to protect them from some malevolent force. I have to work on my smile.


Day eleven has begun and I’m hungover. After my triumph at yesterday’s gig, last night I foolishly accepted an offer to host an Amsterdam compilation show in Espionage. Hosting sucks. It’s essentially the goalkeeping of comedy. You have to do a lot of work for zero credit and let’s be honest, its nobody’s dream to be a host. I arrive at the gig and there is a hen night sat in the front row. They’re using the microphone and doing a sing-a-long. This is going to be tough.

I find out which comics are here and make a running order in my head. Everybody gets seven minutes, I’ll flash you at five. I do seven up top to warm them up and it works, the hen are quietening down and getting into the jokes. Bring up the first act, she does well, next act does even better. The comics are sticking to their time and before I know it, we’re on the fourth act. I flash her. Two minutes go by and I think to myself she mustn’t have seen me. I flash her again. Nothing. She’s looking everywhere but at me. I have two more acts to perform and I’m not going to let them down because this fucker wants her moment in the spotlight. I walk up next to the stage. I’m now standing three feet in front of her and she’s looking all around the room trying to avoid eye contact. Everybody else is looking right at me. I start waving my hand in front of her face. She finally looks me in the eye and says “okay, this is my last point”. She finishes and we get through the last two acts. We’re two minutes over but everybody got to perform. Job done. I forgot to mention the act that went over is one of the show organisers. I do a bucket speech, we take in a lot of money & she keeps it all for herself. Hosting sucks.
Main image via independent.ie

Editor’s note: This post originally featured a Day 10 entry from Anthony Riordan but it has been removed at his request

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