Yesterday afternoon, I was talking via Skype with Irish comedian Christian Talbot in Belfast.
He told me: “There are a load of people – I was talking to them this morning – they’ve re-applied to the PBH Free Fringe and haven’t heard anything back and they’re waiting on Freestival stuff and it’s just… I mean, it’s really heartbreaking to… I know about ten or twelve people very personally, really good friends, who are… they just have no venue now… They’ve really become very, very disillusioned. They’ve all paid deposits on accommodation, they’ve all booked flights to Scotland which are now useless, they’ve paid for their entry in the Fringe Brochure – in some cases for two shows, which is £600. They really are… yeah… It’s not good… I wrote something for Chortle the other day about how the people who ARE over there this year can make it a bit better… But I don’t think the Fringe has come out of it really well…”
Christian and his now 13-year-old daughter Kate won an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award last year.
“Kate is doing a full 60-minute show this year, isn’t she?” I asked.
“No. She’s going to do about 3 minutes.”
“Oh lord,” I said. “So much for what I know. But, if she speaks slowly, she can stretch it out to fit.”
“Lots of other people have,” said Christian. “She was supposed to be doing another show. I had one set up with Freestival for a one-off, where we would have a load of kids 7-15 years old each doing three minutes. But that looks to be in doubt now, given the whole debacle.”
“Was it in Cowgatehead?” I asked.
“We also had another one-off charity gig set up for the Neuro Foundation, which was going to be quite a big gig and have quite big names at it. That gig is now in doubt.”
“Was that one at Cowgatehead as well?”
“Yes. But neither of those gigs were going to be in the main Edinburgh Fringe Brochure – They were just going to be advertised at the time. So they may go ahead somewhere else…
“But Kate is definitely doing one show – Comedy 4 Kids. Three minutes. And she’s going to do a bit of a tutorial for an hour beforehand. Kate has been plaguing me to do something at the Fringe.”
“Building on her award-winning career start last year?” I asked.
“And as for your own Fringe shows?” I asked.
“My main show Christian Talbot Is Shite at Being Irish is in the Underbelly and my other show Cheaper than Therapy was supposed to be in Cowgatehead. It’s now in Bob Slayer’s BlundaBus. It was supposed to be in Cowgatehead but I lost the venue, of course. Bob just messaged me out of the blue: Have you got a venue? and he gave me six dates.
“It’s going to be a talk show with a different theme every night. Things that lead us to therapy or things that you find therapeutic.
“So one of the shows will be about religion. We will have one on alcohol. One on your parents messing up your life. and one on depression.
“I did it a couple of times over in Sligo at the festival there, talking about various therapy things. It worked quite well. I just think it’s something different. I didn’t want to get people up to do stand-up again.”
“It’s an extension of your Seven 2 Ten podcast?” I asked.
“Yes. A little bit, but with a theme to each one.”
“Is your podcast still going?”
“I haven’t really had time,” Christian told me. “I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’ll probably do Cheaper than Therapy as a podcast-and-record and put them out.”
“You don’t see the Fringe chat show as a leaping-off point for something else?”
“No. It’s just a bit of fun. It would be lovely if it was, wouldn’t it? But I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it for a laugh.”
There’s a rarity. Someone doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe just for the craic.
“This coming Sunday,” said Christian. “I’m doing a preview of Christian Talbot Is Shite at Being Irish at the Museum of Comedy in London – I’m on straight after Lewis Schaffer’s show.”
“Oh lord,” I said. “Oh lord. For you, the nightmare never ends.”