I first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009, which was also my first year trying comedy. At the time I was gigging for 5-10 minutes two or three times a week in London but at the festival I performed the same 15-20 minutes of material twice a day. A couple of weeks experience back in the real world every day for a month. Realising that Edinburgh is a terrorist training camp for comedians I’ve come back every year since.
Another mistake was thinking in my second and third years that I had something to offer agents and reviewers. 'Come and see me and a friend do 20 minutes on the free fringe, not those professional comedians doing hour shows' - why are they not coming?
Year 4 I decided to do my first solo ‘work in progress’ show, 40 minutes called ‘A degree of comedy’. I remember at the time thinking that the show went well, but it still hurts a little the amount of jokes from that show that are nowhere near my set now.
From year 3 on wards other comics started asking 'When are you going to do you first hour?’ 'Year 4, you should be doing an hour?' 'Year 5 you should be doing an hour?' 6 etc. etc.
I’ve even been told by a couple of comics that doing a work in progress 40 minute show is cheating. CHEATING??
‘Eric Clapton how did you become really good at playing the guitar?’
‘I’m afraid I cheated by practicing a lot’
My ‘work in progress’ shows were good value (free) but they showed me that I wasn't ready. The jump from doing 20 minutes in a comedy club to an hour show was too much, I needed the bridge of a 40 minute show (the same reason that this is not the first draft of this blog). Even last year when I thought I was ready but decided to only do half the Edinburgh run and waste the second half on holiday proposing to my girlfriend, I wasn't ready (for an hour show not marriage).
I look at my Edinburgh years as school years, why did I not do my Edinburgh hour on year three or four? Same reason I didn’t take my degree after only three years of school, because even though i probably would’ve still passed (it was creative writing, a broken fountain pen could have passed), it wouldn’t be to the standard that I wanted to pass at.
I’m re-reading the above blog on the train to Edinburgh (told you there would be a second draft) and I’ve made two discoveries.
1) Why is my show better because I waited seven years?
I've completely different motivation. In my first few years I was motivated by what you people think, reviewers, agents. If I had a good gig I'd bounce off stage, grab a pint and dream of being on ‘Live at the Apollo’. Now I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong I care about being as funny as I can be, I've put this Edinburgh show and its financial and time consuming drain above that of my own wedding, but sitting reading/writing this I realise the excitement of Edinburgh is now overshadowed by being away from my fiancée (and hamster). My motivation is now me. I expect to have good shows and no longer bounce off stage and dream of the Apollo, I'll phone my fiancée and ask how her day has been. I think the show is better because of this.
2) I also realised that my maths is shit and this is actually my eighth year but I can’t be bothered to do a third draft.