WITH the Fringe less than three weeks away, comedians everywhere are putting the final touches to their acts, all hoping to be the one audiences and the press champion.
Of course, of the hundreds who make the trip every year, the vast majority never advance beyond the touring circuit of small comedy clubs. Some, if they are really lucky, might land a Radio 4 show, or a TV slot, while a lucky few make the dizzying heights of an arena tour. All, however, have one thing in common: the night they died on stage.
Tiffany Stevenson hopes that she will be the stand-up everyone notices this Fringe - her new show, Uncomfortably Numb, runs at the Underbelly throughout August – but she candidly admits, she too has had the odd stinker. Recalling her worst gig ever, she says, “As comics, we know there is always the possibility of a bad gig hiding round the corner, like a chugger on commission.
“A perennial favourite is a well know agricultural college in the south of England. It has been run by every promoter at some point and still no-one can make it a decent gig.
“You know a gig will be horrific when the student entertainments manager tells you: ‘They love racist and sexist stuff here.’ So, with a leaden heart and fear of not being paid, I got on stage and told jokes about ageing, yummy mummies and my distrust of inherited wealth – to an audience of predominantly rich fifth-generation landowners.
“Eventually I got heckled by two naked rugby players who got on the stage. One grabbed my hand and kissed it. I heard the words, ‘Great, now I have an STD,’ come from a strange disembodied strangled voice – mine. This got more laughs than any of my set.
“I left in tears and with a head full of questions such as ‘Why didn’t they love me when I did all my best racist/sexist material?’ Like all great questions, no-one really knows the answer.”
An experience Stevenson will be hoping not to repeat in Edinburgh.
• Underbelly, Cowgate, August 2-26, www.edfringe.com