Bridget Christie on Edinburgh: ‘It’s not all about you. Apart from the reviews’

Written by Bridget Christie in The Guardian on August 12th, 2014

Eat properly.
Enjoy the scenery.
Bring a small child.
After 10 years of playing Edinburgh festival, the standup comedian has some tried-and-tested advice for performers and visitors

When I arrived in Edinburgh the weather was very changeable. Hot and sunny, overcast and raining, hot and sunny, overcast and raining, hot and sunny, overcast and raining etc. It did occur to me that one of the big comedy agents or promoters may have done a deal with God or some meteorologists to give their acts the weather to match their emotions. Then charged them for sunglasses and umbrellas. Anyway, now it’s just raining all the time.

It’s very easy to become paranoid when you’re in Edinburgh and to think that everything, even the weather, is about you. It isn’t.
Nothing’s about you. Apart from the reviews, of course. They’re all about you!

It’s of crucial importance both to your mental wellbeing and to those around you that you try to maintain a certain level of equanimity. Do normal things. Talk about things other than the festival. Eat properly. Don’t drink too much. Look at wondrous Arthur’s Seat, which, if you don’t know Edinburgh, is a magnificent dormant volcano – or massive hill – bang in the centre of Edinburgh.
It’s breathtaking and magical and awe-inspiring).

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a legendary, bespoke toilet belonging to the English alternative comedian and veteran fringe-goer Arthur Smith, on loan to the National Museum of Scotland during the festival, and go in there asking to see it.
The staff wouldn’t appreciate that at all, especially this close to the referendum.

Anyway, I’m very lucky. Since 2007 I’ve always had a child with me at the festival. My own child, I mean – I don’t rent someone else’s when I get up here to keep things in perspective.

When you’re in Edinburgh, don’t forget to take in the view of Arthur’s Seat.
Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Although I do think that’s a good idea. If Edinburgh parents start doing that, I want my cut. Children are not only great levellers, they’re also brilliant fun. I have two now and I love being at the festival with them. My son saw a man dressed up as Margaret Thatcher the other night and said: “Is he in The Ladyboys of Bangkok, Mummy?”

I prepared as much as I possibly could for this year’s show. I had a good run last year – for the first time in 10 years people came, and I didn’t want to disappoint them in case they came back. This year feels different.
I have to think about the structure of this show very carefully because it covers some difficult issues.
I didn’t have to do that so much with last year’s show, A Bic for Her. It was pretty much one routine shouted after another, with a serious bit at the end. It was easier to write and easier to learn.

This one has routines within routines, and I can’t get the order wrong otherwise the whole thing falls apart. It occurred to me at the beginning of the run that if something spontaneous happened in the room, at a crucial moment, I’d have to go all the way back to the beginning again.

Like when my son gets distracted by a fly while we’re doing his times tables. “Where was I again? Argh! We’ll have to go back to the beginning now. 1 x 2 is 2. 2 x 2 is 4. 3 x 2 is …” I’m not very good at maths.

Still, the shows have gone down fine so that’s a relief. The only slightly dodgy one I’ve had was on Saturday. Saturdays are always a bit odd. The audience haven’t necessarily come to see you, but to see “some comedy” and you might not be their idea of comedy, which I wasn’t, and I can completely understand that. I’m not even my idea of comedy.