Edinburgh – Day 1

Given that it’s 2:35 AM, I’ve opted for a utilitarian rather than creative title here. This pains me not a little, particularly as this is the maiden blog post on adamstrauss.com. But creativity is no different than anything else*, in that all other variables equalized, it’s pretty much a linear function of time**. And given my well-documented*** perfectionism, my tendency is to post nothing rather than post something that falls far short of that mark.

But no more, dear reader(s****)! I hereby pledge to update this things daily for the duration of Fringe. I also pledge to break that pledge – it’s inevitable, really, given how frenetic this place is (right now I have the benefit of jet lag to keep the digits tapping at, wow, 2:40, but that will hopefully pass). But when I do, I’ll post double the next day. So, 22 posts in as many days, starting now. But to do that I’ll need to compromise not only on quality (meaning, zero rereading or rewriting) but also quantity of words, so I’ll keep this one brief.

i arrived in Edinburgh Thursday, but today (meaning Saturday) was the first day of shows. I’m doing two shows here each day*****. My main focus of course is Varieties of Religious Experience, but I’m also running a daily stand-up showcase that I’ve billed (purely for marketing purposes, as virtually all the comics I’m booking are Brits) as the New York All-Star Comedy Hour.

The Comedy Hour is first up, at 4 PM, and it was packed. Packed with audience that is; due to complete lack of planning, I had only one other comic booked (the format calls for 5 comics including me). But it turned out to be a solid show. I did a ton of time, mostly just talking to the crowd interspersed by some half-written ideas inspired by things I’d noticed in the last day (in my experience the quickest way to win over a crowd it to comment on their city, and interestingly negative works as well if not better than positive). And then at a certain point I decided to wow them with my most surefire material, and… nothing. A few polite/nervous titters. The reason was obvious, but one that would take a fair degree of expounding to elucidate for a non-comic audience, and it’s not really germane and I’m thankfully starting to get drowsy. But the point was at that moment I felt that thrill, that sense of almost awe, that there’s just no way to figure out this game. You can always bomb. I know in my heart that if that weren’t true I wouldn’t love stand up half so much.

As for Varieties, the moment of awe for me came when I walked into the room – it was packed. Of course, it doesn’t take much to fill the Royal Mile Tavern – it seats an incredibly tightly packed 36. But every seat was taken save the four right up front, which really are uncomfortably close to the stage area. These people were almost all drawn by my description in the fringe brouchure. I’d agonized over this (surprise!) as I wanted it to not only attract but also repel – I wanted to draw an audience that would not only be sympathetic to the story but more so appreciate the dense (some might say self-indulgent) language. But how many of those people are there really out there? And the answer I got, at least today, was way more than I expected.

The performance itself was I think my strongest to date, a function I imagine of my excitement at the turnout and at being at the Fringe generally, as well as the room itself. Everyone is right on top of each other, just eight rows of cramped folding chairs, and that compression of energy was electifying.

Ok, I’m suddenly fading hard. More tomorrow. Smooches.


*and really, IS there anything else? I don’t mean that metaphorically, or rhetorically. I genuinely wonder.

** i.e., if I spend twice as long on something it’s generally twice as good, and I’m going to pass on the temptation right now to define “good” since it’s now 2:37. Jeez.

*** by me, of course, most obviously in Varieties of Religious Experience

**** hopefully!

***** meaning, two I’m running myself – I’m also performing as much as possible on other people’s stand up shows.


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