"Talking to yourself is the first sign of madness!". I turn to see a face, stamped onto something man-shaped, jeering at me from within a nearby Ford Focus. Until a moment ago, I'd been walking along and trying to re-word something I'd thought of by saying it out loud to myself. However, this drive-by heckle had snapped me out of my day dream and now the wit responsible for this bellowed 'zinger' sat eagerly waiting for my retort. Here I go.
"You know stopping and winding down your window, just to say that to me, is the first sign of being a c*ck?"
I did not say this to him. I said this to myself, about a minute later, as I angrily stomped up the stairs to my flat. The irony of my experiencing 'L'esprit de l'escalier' while actually on some stairs is not lost on me. Tricky part is deciding, whether or not it's funnier to tell people that I said this to the guy or to admit the staircase bit. I opt for the former as the latter is a shade cerebral for drunk people in a comedy-club.
I'm a comedian by the way.
I talk to myself A LOT, It's how I rehearse. I grew up in an old guesthouse, a big place with mirrors in every room, so wandering round there as a young man (working on funny things to say) meant that I could always turn round and see how the gags looked coming out of my strange face. My current flat is nice but very small so if I want to rehearse, I usually take it outside and get the city under my feet. In general, the trick in comedy is to keep moving forward.
It's not always easy. Lately, I've been wading, nipples-deep, up the river of what I like to call 'Death Row'. That's my pet name for the last week in July, prior to the Edinburgh Fringe. This is the long, dark (yet, annoyingly, beautiful and balmy) summer night of the soul for comedians. Soon it'll begin - something approaching a month-long combination of a political campaign, a trade show and a college frat party. You try hard to down-play the worry; after all, it's only something you've spent the last year writing, honing and rehearsing to bring to the table of biggest arts festival in the world.
Different comics have different ways of psychologically protecting themselves from this cavernous maw of self-doubt. Some like to double down and just disappear into the madness. Temporarily, they become private eyes on the trail of their own professional future, scouring the Scottish night for some vague clue. Others prefer the 'seasoned cynic' shtick. They drink excessively in the 'industry' bars, bemoaning the fact that it's 'all too commercial now' and effectively just a collective scam between the sponsors, the venues and the marketing companies to farm the energy of naive talent.
As for myself, I kind of don't' care anymore.
I mean…that's a lie obviously. What I mean is that I'm not interested in the meta-mechanics of any of it anymore. There is now right way to do it. All I really want, all I hope, is that when the time comes each day to do my little show (of which I'm very proud) that I won't still just be talking to myself.
It's the first sign of madness.
See Angus Dunican: The Vanity Project at the Gilded Balloon Counting House from 3rd -28th August, 4.15pm. For tickets visit www.edfringe.com