Hello kidlings. I'm ill, I'm delirious, I'm exhausted and I'm quite happy and excited at the same time, so if there's some spelling mistakes (and possibly some bits of grammar that go awry) then do forgive me. I'll do my best, but I'm no... em... person who's good under pressure.
The festival has been ticking along at quite a pace, and I'm not going to update you, or anyone else, on my adventures thus far, because it's too much and too boring in detail, and it's far too late in the day for that. What I am going to do is talk about what we did yesterday and the day before, which was watch most of a 24 (and a half) hour comedy show.
Mark Watson's Over Ambitious 24 Hour Comedy Show was supposed to start at 11.55pm on Sunday night, but an administrative error meant that it didn't start for a little while after that. And due to the same kind of administrative error 24 hours later, it finally came to a close at 12.19am on Tuesday morning. We had originally decided to join in the spirit of the thing, popping in every now and again to see how it was all going, and leaving again to get on with our daily Edinburgh routine. It didn't quite work out that way.
We stayed in the end for 16 hours. At 3am, we took what we thought was a wise decision to leave to get some sleep. After Mark had allocated to us our Audience Member Numbers (I was 40, Susan was 39) we left before the sleepover games began, when there were still over 100 people in the room. This, in retrospect, wasn't the best of timing, because we missed the first appearance of Stewart Lee, the first game of Chinese Whispers (used when Mark has to go to the toilet to fill up the time) and the first chapter in the ongoing saga of Dara O'Briain.
But I'm quite glad we left. When we returned just before 11am the next day, most people - although not Mark - were looking like horrible ragged shells of their former selves. Rubbish was strewn all around the room, people were propped up on beanbags, there were sleeping bags and pillows on stage, someone was sleeping, most people were handing around sausages and croissants and there did seem to be an unusual amount of orange juice in the room. And, ladies and gents, I don't mind telling you - the room smelt of sleep, farts and people sweat. Not a good smell to walk in to.
For the daylight hours, we were transferred to a smaller room so that other shows could take place during the day, but the cult of Watson had taken over a lot of people by that point - us included - and we decided at about 11.30am that we weren't going to leave again until the bitter end.
I'm so damn glad that we didn't.
I was still recovering from my current battle with Festival Flu, and on Sunday evening it did seem to be leaving me. My only words of advice to anyone suffering from a drink and lack-of-sleep induced illness would be that attending a 15 hour comedy event probably isn't the best way to get better. I'm back to square one again in terms of illness, but lordy by god it was worth it.
The show managed to make a soap opera and drama and tragedy and comedy out of every situation that it came across. A group of about 15 audience members stayed for the full duration of 24 hours, and were given the title of Platinum Lifers (and also some transfer tattoos of dolphins, although I can't remember why). Others like us who were there for a ridiculously long amount of time were called merely Lifers. I could probably name each and every person involved in the show now, and indeed, we spotted a few in audiences today, with all of us sharing a special smile of recognition when we caught the other's eye.
A harmless game of Blind Date, played at about 4.30am, turned in to a beautiful story of doomed romance and complicated love triangles, played out between Platinum Lifer Amy, interloper Lilly and Admin Expert Tim. Dara O'Briain's appearance at 5am, drunken and biligerent, became a talking point for the rest of the show, casting him in the role of the villain, and setting up a brilliant Western style show down in the last half hour of the show. Even organising something like pizza at dinner time took over an hour and a half to get under control, and then we all paid far too much and ended up donating the money to another performer whose show we all interrupted for free. Problems with the management of the venue we were all trapped in for so long even became a running storyline, and had us gripped continually with the suspense that at any moment the show could be stopped, we could all be thrown out, and all the hours put in would be in vain.
Every time we got to 5 past an hour, there would be a muted celebration, muted simply because we would all start to work out in our heads how long was left to go, and despite Mark’s continuous and never failing chirpiness, he could never quite convince us that 9 hours weren’t really that long to go. It was really astonishing how wonderfully well he coped, in the face of constant media interruption – Newsnight Review came in, do watch it on Friday, I’m wearing green and Susan is beside me, you’ll not miss it. Even when he developed cramps in his feet from standing up for so long he never once stopped chatting or egging everyone on, or talking about what was coming up next or what had happened before.
The biggest story however was the beautiful relationship between Mark and his girlfriend Emily. The fact that he proposed in the last minute of the 24 hour show has been the main headline for most of the coverage of the event, but it really wasn't as twee, saccharine or even premeditated as the coverage makes it sound.
In the first hour of the show, Mark mentioned that he was considering proposing to his girlfriend during the show (this was while she was out of the room, obviously) but immediately qualified this statement with the fact that he didn't think he was likely to do it. From then on, whenever she left the room to attend to various admin or party popper buying matters, he would turn to the audience and mutter "Will he, won't he?" and then carry on. If the subject was ever broach, every audience member would be staring at the door trying to make out her sillohette and if she went by, we'd all "shhhh" and move on to more general topics. It was fabulous. By the time the proposal came, it was amazing that she didn’t know anything about it, but I really don’t think she did, and we all burst in to tears about the same time that she did.
We’ve already both decided that out of all the shows that we’ve seen since coming to the Festival every year since 1997, this is truly the best experience of the Fringe. The best, and truly the most exhausting. I take my hat off to the Platinum Lifers who stayed there for the full 24. We celebrated coming to the end of this comedy marathon by staying out in Brooks Bar and not going to bed until 6.30am. Really, though, it was the only appropriate thing to do.
A short article on the show can be found here on the BBC news site
. I don’t have the time or energy right now to find any more, but please leave me links to it in the comments section if you get the chance. Thanks.
Tattoo tomorrow, 2pm. Full update to follow. Eek.