ED2015 Columns ED2015 Comedy

Michael J Dolan: Three Thousand Weeks

By | Published on Tuesday 25 August 2015

Michael J Dolan

So, we’re into week three of these ThreeWeeks now, what’s your plan for the grand finale? Well, Michael J Dolan has a thought. Avoid the five star hits and award nominees to see something truly “Edinburgh”.

We’re well into the last week of the Fringe now. This magazine is called Three Weeks but anybody who’s done this festival before will know that that’s an outright fucking lie, it’s loads longer than that. This Fringe has dragged on so long I’m half expecting to emerge from the other side like Captain America waking up in a nightmare future world I barely recognise. I’m pretty sure I’ve been here since the dawn of time and I have forgotten what my wife looks like.

You’re taking a big risk seeing shows in the last week, there’s a lot of real sad comedians roaming the Festival’s stages. Desperate performers who arrived thinking they’d really nailed their shows this year, only to find that they now can’t remember what their own words mean, so they’re putting the wrong inflections on everything so the setups sound like punchlines and the punchlines are muttered into the ground with contempt, and nobody knows why they came.

These are, of course, some of the best experiences of the Fringe. Sure, you could spend the last week seeing the five star shows, the award-laden hits, the guaranteed good times, OR you could find the comics who have lost grip of themselves and are now delivering delirious direct lines into their own ids and super egos as the two battle for supremacy. Shows that have warped inside themselves exposing an honesty that the performer will never be able to intentionally recapture.

Maybe I’m imagining this, but other performers always seem to arrive at the Festival with a real sense of intent, which is something I’ve never managed myself. Everybody looks to have clear goals and solid shows and I only ever stumble in with a handful of jokes and an apology for my ill-preparedness. Other acts have dreams of award nominations and glowing reviews, word of mouth buzz, or interest from the telly people, and it’s hard not to get sucked into all that bollocks; I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen into that same trap in any of the years I’ve been here.

By the last week though, all of those dreams have GONE TO SHIT, none of it is happening and none of it will. The percentage of shows that actually have that kind of festival experience is so low as to be practically zero and everybody else can now either limp to the finish or drill down into the failure and kill it on the stage.

You can see the good stuff anywhere, those hits have lives long beyond August. If you want an experience that will only be available at the Festival see a show by one of those broken souls this week, find somebody everyone ignored. For better or worse there’s a good chance you’ll end up seeing something that lives with you forever.

‘Michael J Dolan: Miserable Guts’ was performed at The Stand Comedy Club 3&4 at Edinburgh Festival 2015.

Photo by Drew Forsyth