So, having been to a lot of festivals how did 2013 compare to others?
I had a good one. It was probably the hardest I have had to work up there as I had the podcast to organise and upload and the main show in the evening and I didn't get much time to do anything else. In the old days it was all about the socialising for me, with a little break for the show. Now it's very much about the shows!
DARKCHAT were up for the first week this year and the audiences seemed smaller than previous years. Is there a pattern to when the biggest audiences arrive?
My audiences were up on last year, where things started very badly because of the Olympics. But I think things are slowly getting polarised. The big names are taking away punters and the free fringe is attracting an audience, so the acts in the middle are getting a bit squeezed.
“We're All Going To Die" was (rightly) universally praised. Are reviews important or do you now have a reliable fan-base?
I am still not at the point in Edinburgh (or anywhere) that I can sell out regardless. I think word of mouth may be more important than press, especially these days. But I can't rely on fans alone so I need to keep coming up with the goods if I want to get a crowd in.
As you are now playing bigger venues does that increase pressure on you to deliver the goods?
No, it mainly just means you worry slightly about ticket sales, but it's much easier playing to a big room than a small one. So generally speaking it's a lot more fun to be getting 300+ people most nights.
Do you get nervous before a show and how quickly do you relax on stage?
I don't get nervous any more unless it's very early in a run or I am playing somewhere massive or unfamiliar. But I am quite relaxed about performing these days. The key is to enjoy myself and everything else should follow (hopefully).
Does it take you long to relax after a show & do you analyse each performance?
The adrenaline means it's hard to go to sleep straight after a gig and so you do have to wind down. I won't spend too long analysing a show afterwards. I tend to work at it on stage and then try and remember what wasn't working when I get to it the next night and try something different. In Edinburgh you realise when you talk to other acts that often everyone has had a similar reaction from the audience. The weather and news and day of the week tend to affect people's moods. I just concentrate on trying to do the show as well as possible, and then do better the next time. A project is never perfected, just abandoned.
Why do you (like most performers) appear in more than one show?
I am not sure I will do it again. I am a bit too old to keep up with the effort required. It's nice to keep busy and because it's at the Stand the podcast is guaranteed to make me a bit of money.
A month is a long time. How do you sustain your energy & concentration levels?
I have to try and stay fit these days, eat well, exercise and not drink too much. But it's three and a half weeks working every single day (after a couple of months of intensive previewing) so it's hard and I usually get ill. This year I was tired by the end, but didn't get sick!
Do you get bored in August?
Can you ever see yourself not doing an Edinburgh show?
Yes. I might have a year off soon or even go up every other year. I have lots of other things I want to do and sometimes the Fringe gets in the way a little bit. So maybe a year off next year, but we'll see how I feel in February!
Money is always a talking point in Edinburgh . Without being rude, do you make any/much money from a critically and publicly acclaimed show? What are your biggest expenses?
It is very hard to make money in Edinburgh. And I have certainly lost more than I've made over the last 26 years, but I do make a bit of money now, partly because the Stand has a much fairer system for dividing the spoils and also because if you can sell about 250 tickets on average a night that's enough to cover all the costs for the stand up show. I think I may just have broken even on the stand up this year,but have made a little bit in the last four or five years. The podcast made it worth me going up though
DARKCHAT saw 53 shows in a week and without a variety of 2 for 1 offers and the Free Fringe we couldn’t have afforded to see so many. What are your thoughts about the current pricing structure?
Because everything is so expensive for the acts they don't really have too much choice in the matter. I think things have got a bit too expensive and I bought my prices down this year and used some of the advertising money to give audiences a free DVD. The free Fringe will help bring prices down I think (and it's financially better for the acts too). But money goes on accommodation, to the venues, the PR firms, the management, accommodation (v expensive) , crew and advertising, so tickets can't really be cheap. But I'd like to see them get closer to £10 than £20. And it's odd that the big acts who are making money charge even more.
We thought the standard of shows this year were higher than ever. What were your favourites?
I didn't see much, but I loved Bridget Christie's show and also the Horne Section was properly entertaining. Set List is a great show too.
And finally how have you relaxed since the festival?
I went on holiday to the Amalfi Coast with my wife. It was great.