ED2012 Columns ED2012 Week2 Edition

Lynn’s Letter To Edinburgh: Now it’s time to enjoy yourself

By | Published on Tuesday 14 August 2012

Lynn Ruth Miller had to sit this Fringe out with her foot in a cast. But that’s not stopping her from sharing some thoughts with Edinburgh performers from the other side of the Atlantic…

I really love the second week of the Festival. By that time, I am comfortable with my show; I understand the limits of my venue and I have an established routine to bring in my audiences. I know where I want to flyer and when the best times are. And I have figured out the times when I can rest and the times when I am not too stressed to catch a few other shows. The Festival all comes together for me in this week.

Last year, I did my comedy show at Sweet Grassmarket. The performances blew hot and cold through the first week. Audiences were fair but not great, and not one reviewer managed to come see me. On the last Saturday night of that week, I had a full house and you know how unusual that can be. The room was filled with people I not only knew but fans who had been following me for the past six years. How could I fail?

Filled with false confidence, I stood before these people who so wanted me to be amazing and did my routine. No one laughed. Oh, there were smiles and a chuckle or two. Every now and again, I heard a hearty guffaw… but not one joke really caught fire. The technician, who felt my pain, told me, “They LOVED the show, Lynn Ruth. They all listened to every single word you said”. And I replied, “I am a comedian. I want them to laugh”.

I trudged home in the rain that night and thought seriously of throwing the last seven years into the nearest bin and taking up lap dancing. I was ashamed and distraught. However, instead of shopping around for some hemlock to drink, I cried bitter tears to that wisest, most philosophical and kindest of men: Sweet Venues founder Julian Caddy. Julian thought for a moment, and then he said: “You know what, Lynn Ruth. You’re not having FUN on that stage”.

And then I understood why the first week is so difficult. Those first seven performances, I was worried about my timing; I was adjusting to incessant rain; I was trying to find the places I could settle in for a meal; I was constantly distracted by all the friends I was seeing for the first time in a year. My performance was only one of hundreds of things on my mind. It was incredibly difficult to focus totally on my show.

By the time I finished that first week, all my variables were in place and I could give my full attention to the one thing I came to Edinburgh to do: my show. I had my content under control and I could see the tone and the slant that was most comfortable for me. I established my networking and I’d scheduled all my late night promotional appearances. For the first time in a lot more than seven days, I had time to breathe. That is why it is in the second week of the Fringe that you can have a good time.

And that is just what I did. I started having fun and so did my audience. When you think about it, what else did I want to happen? Do I want national recognition? Well, maybe, eventually. Do I want five star reviews? Well, of course I do. But that isn’t the real reason I came to Edinburgh. I came to get better at what I do. I love performing and if that love doesn’t show, I am not doing my job. If I want my audience to have a great time, I have to have fun too.

I am hoping all of you are beginning to enjoy yourself too, now that the first week has come to an end. That is when you figure out that this Festival isn’t about the reviewers that haven’t got to your show, or the people who didn’t particularly care for what you do. It isn’t about the rain or the fatigue. It is about the marvellous friends you are making and the beautiful opportunity you have to do one show over and over and over until you get it right… not for the audience… but for yourself.

I have just one show tip this week. One show I love is Ivor Dembina’s ‘Old Jewish Jokes’, because I am usually the oldest Jewish Joke at the festival. It’s not in the Fringe Programme, but it’s taking place from 16-25 Aug at 7.20pm at Bar 50 in the Cowgate as part of the Free Festival. If you go, be sure to tell Ivor that the classic Jewish American Princess Horror Movie is ‘Debbie Does Dishes’, and remind him that even a secret agent can’t lie to a Jewish mother.

Anyway, congratulations to you all!!!! You are half way through the second week of the Festival and now it is time for the home stretch. You are ready to indulge yourself in the frosting on your Festival cake. I so wish I could be there with you, but next year, I promise, I will see every one of you once again.