When I loaded up my car to breaking point, the day of my arrival in Edinburgh – D-day – I had all the rules in place in my mind needed to survive a month at the Fringe.
If I drink, everything goes tits up. The person I talk about in my set, Evil Stevie, is a well-documented fact. Got press in tomorrow? Evil Stevie doesn’t care, he just wants to stay out and party – and by party, I mean drink and talk drivel. The home of drinking and talking drivel is of course, the Loft Bar.
The Loft Bar, if you aren’t aware, is an exclusive bar which floats above the clouds, where only the upper echelons of talent at the Edinburgh Fringe can go… and every other half-human that can walk, crawl or maintain a pulse. Exclusive? Trade-level membership to Costco is more exclusive than this, and more fun… I can quite happily walk around Costco for hours, picking at the free food samples, chatting to the staff, dreaming of owning a shed larger than my Edinburgh accommodation At the Loft Bar, chatting to anyone other than your closest comedy friends involves a difficult task of holding their attention when all they’re thinking is…
‘Is that Alan Davies? Sorry Steve, what were you saying?…’
‘OMG – is that the guy that was on Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters but I don’t know his name, but it is him… I’m sure it’s him… But he’s got a beard hasn’t he, is it even him - Sorry Steve, what were you saying? …’
Shoulder-Gazing, I call it – the art of talking to someone, while looking over their shoulder for someone more famous or useful to your career. Think of the eyes of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, and you will have nailed it. Doctors refer to this eye condition as amblyopia, the layman – lazy eye, or at my old school playground, French-Canadian. The aim of the game in the Loft Bar is to be the attention of all these dancing eyes, a frightening thing to behold, but what the clientele aspire to… Oh to be unanonymous.
This break is to allow the pedant to come to terms with the use of the word unanonymous...
I lasted fivedays before I ended up in the Loft Bar, breaking my one rule. Five days before I had to lance the boil of Edinburgh pressure. That was the night I was introduced to Scotsman reviewer Kate Copstick. That was the moment I rolled up my flyer, and pushed it into her cleavage, and gave her a kiss. This is how I ‘roll’ in the Loft Bar, or rather how Evil Stevie rolls. Can I add at this point, it was with her permission (kind of). She still hasn’t visited my show, but I like to imagine my flyer is still where I left it, if a little worse for wear like a tissue that has been washed in a jean pocket, twice.
For those of you thinking of visiting the uber-exclusive Loft, and walking through its magical hidden door past the mystical gatekeeper, there are two questions you will be asked upon your arrival, always in this order:
‘How’s the show going?’
You could answer in detail if you wish, or you could practice speaking Klingon/Elvish – it doesn’t really matter, because that question is merely a precursor to the main question:
‘What are your numbers like?’ Numbers, to anyone who’s not a performer, are YOU. PEOPLE are numbers. Numbers is the ghastly Orwell-esque equivalent to the delightful word ‘audience’. The correct response, therefore, is in 1984 newspeak:
‘My numbers were double-plus good’, means a full room with an attentive responsive audience; ‘my numbers were double-plus bad’ means the audience were around the volume you would expect at a lap dance, and looked like they wanted to kill you (or were a journalist).
Either one of these answers explains why you are in the Loft Bar, breaking your drinking rule, and talking to someone with French-Canadian eyes. And before you ask: My show’s been fun, and my numbers have been up and down – and that isn’t the guy off Alan Partridge?!
- Steve Shanyaski’s Life Survival Bible is at the Pleasance Courtyard, 23:00