It’s showtime!

Or standing perfectly still time. Well, that’s it, I really am going to do my first solo stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s official. I suppose it was official when I agreed the dates and venue with Peter Buckley Hill, organiser of the Free Fringe, under whose benevolent, free-conomic umbrella I shall be performing, and it will be even more official when the Fringe brochure comes out and I can actually flick through to my name, but it’s official enough for me when Chortle list it, as they have. You can see the listing here. You can’t book tickets as the Free Fringe is free – that’s the very essence of it. You just have to turn up. And if you like it, you are encouraged to leave a voluntary contribution on leaving. This strikes me not just as a terrific venture to support, within the Fringe, but also a realistic way for me to test the water on my own.

The show is officially called Secret Dancing … And Other Urban Survival Techniques. Many who have been to the live podcast gigs, or indeed the work-in-progress nights I recently did with Michael Legge, or indeed a couple of Robin Ince’s compendiums at either the Bloomsbury or the Roundhouse, will have witnessed Secret Dancing. Although it wasn’t planned as such, and only came about through the podcasts, Secret Dancing has proved to be the anvil upon which an hour-long show could be struck. I am still writing around it, and hoping to do a couple of previews, probably in London, before Edinburgh, but I must admit, I’m hoping for some crossover with the podcast audience. I have been writing jokes, and even writing routines, but on my experiences thus far, I think reading out things that have been written is probably not my natural metier. So a hopefully genial form of rambling and reading off the side of a bottle of Colgate Plax may be result.

Secret Dancing runs from Saturday August 7 to Sunday August 22, at 12.30 lunchtime, at Bannerman’s, 212 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1NQ

Concurrently, Richard and me are doing ten live podcast shows this year, having dipped a toe in the water with one in 2008, and five in 2009. Collings & Herring Podcast Live is part of the Five Pound Fringe and runs from Wednesday August 11 to Sunday August 15, and Wednesday August 18 to Sunday August 22 at The GRV, 37 Guthrie St, Edinburgh EH1 1JG (tickets cost £5). The listing on Chortle is incomplete, plus it only has a picture of Richard on it, so wait for the Ed Fringe listings, coming within the week!

Those who know me will remember that my first Edinburgh Fringe was back in 1989, when, as a wide-eyed postgraduate comedy fan, I went up with Renaissance Comedy Associates, a comedy threatre group formed at St George’s Medical School in Tooting by Matthew Hall, who would later become the household name Harry Hill. He and I co-wrote a daft musical play called President Kennedy’s Big Night Out, in which I played a Wichita man who had surgery to turn him into a teddy bear, while Matthew played Val De Mere, a nightclub singer linked with Jackie Kennedy. It was an amazing experience, even though we only got one review, which was very bad, in the Scotsman. Matthew caught the bug, big time.

Then, in 2001, me, Stuart Maconie and David Quantick broke ranks and wrote a show about our shared experiences at the coalface of rock journalism, Lloyd Cole Knew My Father, which played in the afternoon at the Pleasance, and drew sufficient crowds and good notices to make it an expensive holiday but one that we thoroughly enjoyed. We even transferred to the ICA in London, and did the show in Belfast, and at Yo! Sushi in London. We were also invited to support Lloyd Cole himself with part of the show, at the Bloomsbury in London. This was a dream fulfilled, so we stopped after that, once we’d made it into a 6-part Radio 2 series, which at least meant we got to do the Drill Hall, standing in a row, holding scripts, on our own, without being on other people’s shows.

Here are a few pics from ’89 to get me back in the mood. I can’t wait. Hope you’re in the right place at the right time.