Derry man Michael Porter, who has been a stand-up comedian since 2009, has just finished performing at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In this article, Michael, who is originally from Shantallow, describes what it was like to take part in the ‘Oscars’ of the comedy world.
The Edinburgh Fringe is over for another year and like every other comedian feeling what can only be described as a week-long hangover (even though I didn't drink on the last night), I find myself questioning my sanity.
Was all the stress worth it?
Was my show ‘The Good, The Bad & The Irish’ a success?
Do I still love comedy?
Will I do it again next year?
Edinburgh is the best of times and the worst of times with lots of emotional breakdowns thrown in for measure.
I've done Edinburgh three times now. Every time you try to prepare for it you are defeated by it, which is why I say don't try to control the chaos, just have fun, adapt to the carnage and accept that the moment you try to control everything it's not fun anymore.
The festival is a strange yet beautiful mix of emotions.
One minute you're full of beans, flyering your show, close to overdosing on coffee and red bull.. the next you are sitting in a corner crying like a baby because you have no audience.
I've had many a night where my venue was empty five minutes before a show, like a ghost town.
You feel like you are the last person on earth yet you have to stay in the venue until you decide to pull the show.
You start to look forward to an early night but just before you turn to get the bus people start appearing out of nowhere. Before you know it, you have 70 people all ready to laugh.
These are usually the best gigs as you didn't expect it to happen at all, there's a feeling of relief, panic, fear and energy (probably the red bull).
I think once you adapt to the madness you become one with it in a way. You accept that it’s chaotic..but so much fun!
The night in question I had two people from Derry come to the show.
I remember talking to them outside before the gig.
Once we had our ‘ah hi you’re from Derry hi!’ chat, they mentioned that I didn't look like I was very funny, I looked like I was depressed.
But the moment I stood on stage they laughed at everything... these kind of gigs prove to me that I was born to do comedy.
It's like no matter how bad things get, I always reserve that little bit of energy in case of emergencies, like a switch flips in my brain.
No matter how hard the festival gets there is always something that can instantly change your mood.
Comedians form their own community in Edinburgh. They are constantly helping each other out whether it be covering your show, helping out with flyering or even something as small as a hug.
There was one guy that used to pass me on the street every night on the way to his show and no matter what we always asked each other how the shows were going, putting on the bravado to keep each other going when I'm sure he wanted to hug me as much as I did him.
Even though we were basically strangers we shared that polite nod of approval they do in the movies where no words are exchanged but in that one act of kindness we both felt better for it.
My venue was the Jekyll & Hyde in Hanover Street (ironic that I sometimes felt a bit Jekyll & Hyde).
I love that venue. I met so many interesting people. The first night I met Joffery from Game Of Thrones and the second night I met Billy Connelly just casually walking past my venue.
At first I was like ‘no it can't be can it’?
I introduced myself. He's such lovely man and we talked for 10 minutes before people started noticing us taking pictures together.
All of a sudden he starts getting mobbed by people so he turns to me, looks me dead in the eye and in classic Billy Connelly fashion says: “Look what you started you f*****!"
I also past John Bishop every night as he had a gig around the corner but he was always very quiet.
There’s two sides to Edinburgh, the old town and new town.
I was in the new town away from the madness of the Royal Mile.
So when I was flyering every night I had my own crowd to work with which was great as there wasn't as many gigs on my side of town - compared to the Royal Mile were you couldn't walk five feet without being hit by another flyer.
I love flyering to people. II have an awful lot of energy so I love bouncing about tormenting people. I often used the line " free craic, lots and lots of free craic!" It never failed in getting a laugh.
Most comedians hate flyering. They stand and look depressed in the street. I understand how to flyer, I understand that if you make them laugh in the street then they will be more inclined to come to your show.
But then of course you have to continue with the laughs on stage which is something completely different depending on the mood of your crowd.
Weekend crowds are always a bit more rowdy and fun, but that's not to say I wasn't busy during the week.
Speaking of time, it's very strange in Edinburgh. It slows down, the rest of the world moves at normal speed but in Edinburgh a week feels like a month.
Once it's over you can't help but feel like you have been gone for ages and it's difficult adapting to reality again, but who wouldn't feel like that? I've done six months of gigs in the space of 30 days!
The simple truth is that for a comedian Edinburgh is everything.
Yes I’ve lost money, I've asked a lot from my loved ones, I have blisters on my feet, I've suffered some epichangovers, I've laughed, I've cried, been happy and sad but this is what I do.
People are laughing, whether it be on the street or on the stage… people are laughing!
That makes it all worthwhile. My purpose is to make people forget about their troubles for just a while.
To know that no matter how tough life gets you can always laugh about it, as long as I have that incentive then I’ll do this as long as my body allows it.
Thank you to anyone that came to see me perform, I cherish your support. It's a tough thing to do. Please support your local performers.
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