Stuart Black discusses his new show It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, which brings him back to the festival for the twelfth time. As it turns 70, the Fringe veteran reveals what he’s learnt from his years performing at the world’s largest arts festival.
It's The End OF The World As We Know It. I picked that show title way back in January when Donald Trump took office. Can you believe I was worried that the year ahead might end up being 'not be so bad' and my title would seem over-the-top? Then I'd look like a misery-guts (which I am), always fearing the worst (which I do). When I was a kid, we'd go camping. On the way there I'd be prophesising doom: drowning in a flood, tent struck by lightening, serial killers, no television for a week. I'd be proved wrong and it would turn out fine (except that one year my brother got bitten on the ear by a seagull).
I wish 2017 had proved me wrong, and turned out fine. But it didn't, did it? Oh no. In fact, somewhere along the line, the world went crazy.
You can't pinpoint the exact moment the world went crazy, but it definitely happened. The freak show that is Trump, people losing their minds on social media, racists ranting on busses. I'm seeing it everywhere. Unbridled craziness. It's like people just got tired of holding it in.
It is actually possible the world is normal, but I'm 45 now so it just seems crazy to me. I've passed that line. It happens to us all. Seriously, ageing is deadly. It's the number one cause of death, for people that don't die of something else. We're all getting old, every one of us (except Lulu, for some reason).
I clearly remember when I was a teenager, and my Dad shook his head and said he didn't understand the world, and that he was going into the garage to drink himself to death. He didn't actually say that, but he didn't have to because he actually did it. Like Nicholas Cage from leaving Las Vegas. It took Nicholas Cage a year. If that movie was about my Dad, it would have been called: Leaving Shepton Mallet and it would be thirty years long.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. We're just immune to it when we're young. Somewhere down the line that wears off. It could be used in one of those 'signs of ageing' adverts:
Do you look at the world in utter disbelieve? Does watching the news make you want to go into the garage and drink yourself to death? You could be suffering from... The simple passage of time! Try not to think about it, have a laugh, it will all be over soon.
The way good stand-up comedy works is you take in what's happening, and you try to find the funny angle and you share it with other people. It takes their mind off the impending doom. That's basically what I've been doing at Edinburgh since 2005.
God, it's been twelve years since my first performance at the Edinburgh Fringe. That's a shit-load of walking. I bet I walk a half marathon each year, running, hiking or staggering-drunk; up the hills, on bloody cobbles, at dawn to the sound of seagulls and bin lorries - all that wearing Cuban-heeled Chelsea boots btw. That's a lot of shows, bottles of wine, cigarettes, cups of coffee, hangovers and broken hearts. Well, only two broken hearts. Obviously I mean the same heart, broken twice. I'm not Dr Who.
The Edinburgh Fringe is magical, but it's intense. You want to survive? Here's what I learnt: Pace yourself, get a map, bring a brolly, wear trainers, leave extra time for busy pavements, avoid Royal Mile, don't fall in love.
Stuart Black performs It’s The End Of The World As We Know It at Just The Tonic at the Tron from the 3rd-27th August at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Tickets available at www.edfringe.com