Saw flatmate Tom Wrigglesworth’s show, Nightmare Dream Wedding, last night, at the Pleasance Above. Now, I never saw his award-winning, career-sealing, love-generating, radio-adapted show about Richard Branson last year, which I am quite ashamed about now. So this was my first Wrigglesworth extravaganza, and I really enjoyed it. Tom has been saying, back at the flat, that it’s not quite ready as a multi-media experience, but the raw material is, I can tell you. It’s simply that: the story of his actual Vegas wedding, after many years of engagement, to his now-wife Lulu, who is his real wife. In master-storyteller style, this true account is cleverly interwoven with either convenient mash-ups of truth and near-truth, or cleverly embellished with non-truths. This is all part of the fun. Because I am now washing up for and sharing a bathroom with Tom, I met him after the show for a drink (he’s not drinking – I’m telling you, it’s like prohibition in our house), and was able to probe him about what was strictly true, and what wasn’t.
Meeting up with Tom in the Pleasance Courtyard is easy. You can spot his giant frame with the “Leo Sayer” hair from a mile away. (He burnt his hand on the lightbulb in our stupidly high-ceilinged bathroom while taking off a hoodie. Mind you, it was hot because he keeps leaving it on.)
Anyway, the warm-hearted Nightmare Dream Wedding is so beautifully realised and woven and seeded, and the loose ends and themes and characters so neatly and satisfyingly tied up, I suspected a certain degree of fictionalisation. It doesn’t matter, and I’m not going to spoil it for you by revealing how much of it is gospel, and how much of it is based upon truths, rather than the truth. When the diary entries of an apparently real woman with learning difficulties called May whom Tom met in the audience of The Jeremy Kyle Show are read out, in darkness, you won’t spend too long worrying about their veracity or otherwise, as the words are so moving. It’s brave to drop these moments of poignancy into a show that’s otherwise driven by Tom’s hapless persona, and if it doesn’t all quiet fit together yet, it will. My favourite line? “Oxygen is brilliant!”
By the way, Tom experienced a technical meltdown before the show had even started, when the film that he’s made which literally sets up the whole show froze while playing off the computer, and he had to come out and apologise and explain, while his tech rebooted it. And then, when the film had played out successfully, Tom came back onstage to start the show, to warm applause, and the lights didn’t come on. He rose above it, but this was enough to throw anyone.
The Pleasance Courtyard excelled itself this evening in terms of throwing up a cavalcade of famous or familiar faces to gawp at, such as Omid Djalili, Stephen K Amos and Jonny Sweet, and friendly folk to have a drink with: Gary Delaney, who said he’d had his best show yet, as it was not quite full and allowed him to relax into it; David O’Docherty (whom I’ve never met before); and Greg Davies (giant star of The Inbetweeners doing his first, much-fancied solo show). It’s still weird to be there when the courtyard bars all close and everybody is herded inside to the not-big-enough indoors bar, leaving most people loitering in a lobby, which subsequently turns into a photo opportunity, as fans have snaps taken with, well, Greg Davies and Stephen K Amos. It’s the sheer proximity of comedy fan to comedian that makes the Fringe so special. It was, however, funny to see the focus shift from Greg to Stephen when he walked in. A hierarchy is a hierarchy.
My hairy friend Iain Morris is in town, all too briefly, to oversee a casting call for The Inbetweeners movie. He knows everybody in comedy, or at least everyone who’s ever been on Channel 4, especially the 11 O’clock Show, or Flight Of The Conchords, which is still quite a lot of people. So I took a break from the Pleasance and met him at the Assembly, where he’d just been to see San Franciscan comic Arj Barker. We had a drink with Arj (never met him before), as velvety smooth and laidback in real life as his velvety smooth and laidback stage persona. It’s sometimes hard to hear what he’s saying in a noisy bar full of performers showing off, but it’s usually something that makes him smile, so you smile along. His Canadian pal Pete Johansen also joined us – a really nice guy, whose Fringe show, Pete’s On Earth, is about hating babies and parents. Iain is another person who’d not drinking – due to having broken his wrist and being on prescription drugs – and Pete was drinking Diet Coke, having fallen off the wagon the night before and stayed up until 7.30am, so it was a pleasure to see Arj drink two gin and tonics while we were there.
On the way back to the Pleasance – I allowed Iain to get us a cab (my second of the whole Fringe so far) to save 20 minutes’ walking time, because he’s at work and can claim it back – we stopped to chat to Chris Addison and a post-show Richard Herring. It was also great to see the heavily pregnant Lucy Porter, and lament her absence in the Young Ones-style flat (she’s usually the one who books it). She promised to come round and fix the dishwasher.
A long night, but I was still home by 1am. Richard was still at the dining room table, sober for 35 days now, working on the script for As It Occurs To Me, which takes place on Tuesday afternoon. I keep offering to help him write it, but he is too proud and possessive to let me.
Oh, and I got my first four-star review for Secret Dancing, in what you might think of as the partisan British Comedy Guide, run by Orange Mark, who puts out our podcast. But he promises me that his reviewer had no idea of the connection when she filed her copy. I am prepared to believe him. The review is here.