'A day in my life' at Edinburgh Festival is different to my usual days, but in many ways its combination of madness, quietness, unpredictability and almost constant weirdness is symbolic of a jobbing actor or comedian's whole life.
Take, for instance, the five-hour train journey laden with props (I am glad I didn't fly when I think about how immigration would respond to ten cans of Spam and a gimp mask), surrounded by other raggedy troupes of performers. It resembles nothing so much as an audition waiting room. The sense of hundreds of other people rooting for a decent job with actual lines; the smell of old institutional carpet; and your brain, just like that suitcase full of mismatched props, stuffed with intrusive thoughts about how fit all the other auditionees are, sex, cheese sandwiches and how you are going to be judged.
Upon arrival in Edinburgh, you enter a hive of humble, awkward or shameless self-promotion. Essentially, the Royal Mile is Twitter (except with less open abuse, and more face paint and human statues). Your flyer is your 140 characters, every passer-by is a potential follower and you spend most of your time trying to work out whether saying something 'funny' is going to make you look more or less like a git.
As the month progresses, you try to find a balance between making friends (e.g. drinking) and maintaining some creative integrity. The empty day that surrounds your show could involve seeing other people's shows and learning something useful from each one, lying in bed trying to remember your Dad's Amazon Prime password (because honestly who on earth wants to pay for these shows, you just want to watch them) or having sympathetic coffees with tired friends. A performer's life is a strange tribute to the oxymoron 'something and nothing'; life always seems 'busy' but often with fairly moot activities like folding your socks or trying to learn monologues. When an audition or a meeting does come along, it can be hard to see how you're going to fit it in. (But of course you do, and then you spend the two weeks afterwards rolling the memory around unwillingly, like a horrible, sweaty, but devotedly regular massage client).
Albeit oddly exhausting and full of lunacy, the end of Edinburgh is always a sad day. You have made friends who are all creative, brave, and poor enough not to induce jealousy. You have tried really hard to do the thing you love well, because otherwise what is the point of August in England (when you can't afford a holiday, that is)? And you have had the pleasure of visiting a beautiful, friendly and overwhelmingly welcoming city. At its best, that's what a day in the life of a performer is like.
And the hope, ultimately, is that you do it (Edinburgh, life) for the joy, rather than so that someone from the Guardian may, possibly, describe you as 'searingly honest' or 'the next Jack Whitehall'. Obviously, for most people it is a bit of both. Or maybe a 40:60 split in favour of the Guardian... But for a more humble answer, check my Twitter.
See Ruby Thomas: Chick at Just The Tonic at The Caves 4th - 28th August, 6.40pm. For tickets visit www.edfringe.com