Abie Philbin Bowman: 'Imagine an army of comedians capturing a city the size of Dublin'
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
"I HEAR you're going to Edinburgh for the festival? That'll be nice." These words, inevitably spoken by a well-meaning family friend or casual acquaintance, should probably be met with polite gratitude. But every time I hear them, I'm tempted to scream: "Nice?? NICE???"
Well... I risk my life savings on a crazy northern expedition to a beautiful city, which I tramp up and down for four weeks, handing out colourful pieces of paper to total strangers, in the vain hopes of impressing them enough to give me their cash.
I'll then try to entertain them by unburdening my deepest fears and secrets, at the same appointed time every day. I will see the most brilliant, unexpected and mind-blowing comedy and theatre I have ever witnessed. I will also endure the most agonisingly under-rehearsed excuse for entertainment this side of The X-Factor.
At the dawn of each day I will have no idea which of these experiences lies in wait. I will not sleep or eat properly for a month. And I will do all of this in pursuit of the deluded dream that my offering will stand out in a field of 2,500 equally naive performers.
What planet are you living on, where that kind of experience can adequately be described as "NICE?"
To be fair, they're probably living on planet Earth. Edinburgh is the alien environment.
After I calm down, I usually try the following explanation of the Edinburgh Festival. "Imagine an army - made up of comedians, actors and theatre folk - capturing a city the size of Dublin. They set up camp and try to install a provisional government. The streets are filled with troops dressed in a variety of ridiculous theatre costumes. Prices go up. Hotels, hostels and people's flats are requisitioned. The supply of available comedians massively exceeds available audience numbers. After four weeks the whole thing collapses in on itself, and the army retires defeated. That's the Edinburgh Fringe. Please tell your friends to come see my show."
• Abie Philbin Bowman's show Pope Benedict: Bond Villain is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 29 August. Today, 8:45pm.