I try a different tack and knuckle down to some hard work. This proves to be more effective. You live and learn. The others go to the supermarket and come back in a foul mood. They have all argued about what kind of food they want. I write it all down verbatim and have now written Scene Three of the play.
Today is a great success. After hours of trying, I finally get my highest score ever at Tetris on my Gameboy. But this is all part of the creative process. Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% prevarication. I have written a total of 37 pages. We start rehearsals in nine days. We still only have half a cast. My only hope is that the world will actually end. Knowing my luck that will never happen.
It is my 32nd birthday. In the evening, I am dressed in Fijian clothes by the chief of a local village (who either goes to the same barber as Don King or has had a horrible fright at some point of his life) and am the guest of honour at a traditional ceremony. Warriors dance, villagers sing, we drink Kava — a foul- tasting infusion of roots and water — which makes me giggle and sends my tongue numb. It is an ideal set-up for the culmination of my play.
I do some phone interviews with the British press. I ask them what’s happened in the news to see if the prediction has been fulﬁlled. But all ,’ any of them tell me is that Compo from Last Of The Summer Wine
has died. Could that have been 0
what Nostradamus was getting at? Compo was surely the Lord of Terror when he slid down those hills in his tin bath.
An e-mail from the UK informs me that we have a cast. Paul Bown from out of my favourite ﬁlm (and yours, I’m sure). Morons From Outer Space, and TV’s Rebecca Lacey from Casualty and Badger will join the beautiful Ruth Grey and myself.
I desperately try to ﬁnish the play on the plane on the way home (a hi-tech version of doing your homework on the bus to school), but I don’t quite make it. In fact, it will take another week of rehearsal to ﬁnish the script. But the trip was well worth it. I have seen so much that I would never have imagined if I’d stayed in Britain.
While we’re having lunch, there is a terrible thunder storm. The cafe we are in is ﬂooded. The rain pours for over an hour. Lightening cracks above us. Is this the end of the world? Er . . . no. obviously.
We’re still here. Nostradamus was wrong. I’m pleased. It means I’ll get to see Badger And Badger at this year’s Fringe after all. Phew! The first performance goes remarkably well, given the timescale we’re working to. I think it’s the last great play of the millennium. Not really. Ijust want to be able to use that quote on the posters. I hope that if Nostradamus managed to look into the future to watch the play, he would have enjoyed it. I think he would. He obviously had a good sense of humour.
It’s Not The End Of The World
(Fringe) Richard Herring, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 24) 4pm, £9I£8.50 (cs/£7.50).
From the ground up
Does the influx of comedians every August help or hinder Edinburgh’s local circuit? Words: Mark Robertson
For 26 days every year, Edinburgh is flooded by flyer-wielding, humorous, prop-waving nutters purporting to be comedians with shows from the four corners of the comedy earth to entertain the masses. But what of the other 339 days? When the Fringe wagons have packed up and trundled off into the sunset, what's left? Flying in the face of comedy oppression, clubs like The Stand, Christie's Comedy Cellar and the newly opened Tartan Tantrum Comedy Club are among those who put on local performers, keeping the local comedy scene afloat the rest of the year.
The influx of Fringe comedians can be viewed as both a curse and a blessing reckons Tommy Sheppard, Director of The Stand Comedy Club. ’lt’s an opportunity for us to showcase to the rest of the world some of talent that we’ve got here performing all year round,’ he says.
’The festival must give the local scene a boost,’ agrees Gilded Balloon’s Karen Koren. ’More local performers can get work and get to realise that they are not alone in Scotland.’
'We are pleased and proud to be part of the Edinburgh Festival,’ admits Sheppard. ‘In one sense it’s like “the more the merrier” and we like to think we really enter into the spirit of the Fringe.’ All seems rosy in the world of comedy but, when it comes to being down among the big boys, things are not, it appears, quite as harmonious. ’Sadly,’ explains Sheppard, ’a lot of the big promoters from down south don’t seem to share that festival
spirit. They think they are the comedy festival. Hence, we have a deliberate anti-south east of England bias.‘ Reinforcing this,
'Sadly a lot of the big promoters from down south don't seem to share
The Stand refuses to
take part in the the fEStival
Perrier Award on the spirit: grounds that it is h d ’unfair' and of Tommys Eppar
'dubious' value as all competitions are devisive. Koren conversely regards such prize fights as good competition. 'We have "So You Think Your Funny” which is one way of helping young comics get established,’ she points out.
Those at The Stand, however, are content to labour away. ’We get local people coming to see a show because it’s a festival show, saying they didn’t know we’re here all year round,’ says Sheppard. 'T hey come back, but it’s a pity that you have to go to these lengths to show people there’s always comedy here.’ The things people do for a laugh.
The Stand Comedy Club (Venue 5) has daily shows until 29 Aug at 5 York Place and 1 North Clyde Street, 558 7272. The Gilded Balloon has daily shows until 30 Aug at 233 Cowgate (Venue 38) People’s Palace (Venue 36) and The Palladium (Venue 26) 226 2151.
12—19 Aug 1999 THE usr 25
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