Last year, I experienced the Edinburgh Fringe festival for the first time. I absolutely fell in love with it: the buzzing atmosphere, the endless entertainment, even the bagpipes (no, actually, maybe chill with the bagpipes). Did the shows vary in quality? Yes, of course. At one point, I was forced to endure twenty minutes of a man performing a ritual in which he played an organ and ate a crisp which had taken the form of his dead grandmother, all while the man gloated that none of us could leave because he was blocking the exit. That horrifying incident aside, mostly what I experienced was excellent, original and diverse comedy.
I never thought in a million years that one year later, I would be returning to the Fringe to give a comedy performance on the BBC stage in front of an audience of 400+ people.
This opportunity came about through BBC Ouch, the arm of BBC News which focuses on disability related stories. Every year, they host the event ‘Storytelling Live’, in which a small group of people with disabilities or mental health difficulties are selected to perform a funny or interesting story from their lives. This year, the theme was ‘Lost and Found’ – absolutely ideal for me – considering that I am the closest thing to a walking talking Where’s Wally and have been lost everywhere under the sun. So I submitted my story (which you can read here), I got the call to say I had been selected and just a couple of weeks later, I was off back to Edinburgh!
I’d never done anything like stand up before, but with confidence boosting advice from friends and family like “try not to cry on stage” and “don’t do that weird thing with your hands”, I was ready and raring to go! My show was being recorded on the Monday, but the Ouch team were kind enough to send me and my girlfriend Sophy up the night before, so I had a few hours free to chill, get a beer, watch a Russell Howard live show, and frantically freak out about what I would do if I got uncontrollable hiccups or diarrhoea on stage the next day.
Finally, the big day arrived, and my nerves stayed pretty much at bay. Meeting and getting to know the other storytellers and the rest of the Ouch team was so lovely, and the atmosphere was so supportive, that I kind of forgot to be nervous. I was confident that I knew my story inside out, I knew how and where I would be standing on stage, and I reflected that, really, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain from such a unique and unbelievable experience. When my name was called and I was guided out on stage, the audience gave a massive supportive cheer and I instantly felt more confident than I had all day. I also had the banging blind man bonus of not being able to see the audience at all, which I imagine is one of the most daunting parts of performing in front of a crowd that size. Anyway, everything went to plan! The set went well, people laughed, nobody threw fruit. I was absolutely buzzing and couldn’t have been happier with how things had gone.
So overall a success which I’m very proud of and honoured to have been a part of. I met some genuinely amazing people that I will definitely be keeping in touch with, and have received a big confidence boost in regard to my writing and performing. Oh and also, since I’m now a famous comedian, pls respect my privacy because famous people are people too ok.
You can watch my full set from Friday 6th September on the BBC News channel and the iPlayer. It will also be available on BBC Ouch’s podcast and on the Ouch website. Thanks for reading!
In a brief interview I did for social media just before going on stage, I was asked which three people, living or dead, I would invite to a dinner party. Naturally I answered Joan of Arc, Drake and David Mitchell, so if any of y’all are reading (looking at you David), hit me up! x