Clarke's Column: The Comedian's Day Off

Scottish comedian Des Clarke brings his unique perspective to all things Fringe in this second edition. This week: the comedian's day off.

Feature by Des Clarke | 22 Aug 2008

A Fringe performer’s day off at is about as rare as leftovers on Rik Waller’s dinner plate, and about as surprising as a call to his agent. Technically it is free time, at least in the sense that you don’t get paid for it. In reality the only day in lieu you get during the festival is the 24 hours chained to ceramic after an ill fated kebab.

It does throw up the age old dilemma of what to do with your gap day (which is kind of like a gap year except you don’t get to travel the world, but can take a bus to Gorgie if you want.) Here’s how the off day usually plays out...

The first issue is whether to see other shows. By this stage of the Fringe you will have promised at least 137 fellow acts you will check their gig out. It never happens though. It’s hard to imagine another way of letting down so many people simultaneously aside from being a writer on My Family.

There's just too much going on here in August, you struggle to fit it all in. The Fringe is buzzing like an Ann Summers deluxe handbag accessory. And you’ll struggle to fit that all in too. That’s why you forget the show and try to reconnect with the real world by finding out what’s stirring outside the Auld Reekie goldfish bowl we sink or swim in.

You hear whispers on the news of another oil scrap. That Russia is simmering up a new Cold War and Good ol’ Georgia Bush is wagging his button pushing finger at them for invading a sovereign country. The irony is so obvious even he can’t have missed it. Bush seems to have appointed himself as the anchor in this region. Just checking, is that anchor with or without a Dubya?

What next? His old pal Gordon Brown has hired a controversial personal trainer. Then they leak details of his workout sheet. He kicks off with 100 credit crunches followed by a really well briefed spin class before finishing with a session on the punchbag. Sorry, I misread that. A session where he IS the punchbag.

Finally come unbelievable stories linking the words ‘Britain’ and ‘sporting success’. The UK reaching heights of third in the medal table. Are our exam markers scoring the Olympics now?

The British achievement is almost single handedly matched by one half-person-half-fish-mermaid-man by the name of Michael Phelps. The human speedboat won 8 first places. To put that into context he’s now got more gold than post war Switzerland though still trails Mr T, Jimmy Savile and a newborn chav.

Ultimately however these tidbits of reality are just small pricks trying to burst our Fringe-y bubble.

Just enjoy the fact that the daydream is over and you glance at your watch, only to notice that a whole day has passed, you’ve done nothing and all you can think about is: “I should be on stage now”.

Typical comedian, eh? We’re never off...

See Des at the Pleasance Courtyard at 21:20 every night, and Lucy and Des' Show Off..., with Lucy Porter, Pleasance courtyard at 17:00