A week into my fourth Edinburgh Fringe and I am marvelling at how differently I am approaching things this time around. I am doing a full run of 24 shows (in 25 days) of my new stand-up comedy show Shattered. I’ve done a full run before (of my debut show) at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 and I near damned killed myself. In fact I think I will was still reeling from the effects of it 18 months later.
I’d like to think that I learned something from that experience and that I have honoured my commitment to put my wellbeing and self-care first. Here’s two things I’ve done differently.
Firstly, I deliberately took a flat outside of the centre of Edinburgh. It means I have a forced routine of working out the bus (or buses) to get in to flyer before my show (irrespective of the weather), centre myself with a cup of tea before my show, warm-up for my show and then deliver my show. And to go for a long walk after my show to purely take in the experience of that show over some deep breaths and long strides (again irrespective of the weather). And to do this as a daily and disciplined routine.
Secondly, being in a ticketed and paid venue means that you have access to real-time data of your ticket sales. I had this the first time and it altered my behaviour toward each show. I found back then that my enthusiasm for my show was metered by the ticket sales up to an hour before my show. It caused me to lose the discipline of flying and how I did my pre-preparation routine. I have deliberately chosen to not have access to the ticket sales data this time around. Perhaps I have this zen-like approach to each show because I rely on front of house at the venue to tell me as my show time is near whether there is an audience or not. It’s only happened once this past week that there was no audience. And every night there has been an audience, I don’t know how big they are until I step onto stage. And this is the most exhilarating moment my day. That element of surprise as I work out in less than one second how I need to deliver my show to the one, eight, two, ten, or twenty people in the audience (yes, I’ve had these actual numbers this week). And I find that this approach has worked a treat as I have found my performances to have been some of my best to date. That feeling of vulnerability of the unknown activates something really special within me. It’s almost addictive. And it shows on stage.
So this is me six shows into my Edinburgh Fringe run. I’m feeling grounded, feeling confident in my show, feeling nourished and energised. Oh, and woke up on the morning after my sixth show to a beautiful and heartfelt review of my show on the night of one audience member. Do I feel lucky? Of course. But I also feel deserving.