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Fringe Benefits: how to remember people's names without asking them

The Edinburgh Festival is finally upon us! Hurray!

I arrived a couple of days early to avoid the usual panic and anxiety. I wandered over to my venue at The Gilded Balloon as posters were being put up and the staff were familiarising themselves with the venue. Outside at the Underbelly there was lots of rushing about and I quite enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversations which mainly consisted of: "I hear they are way behind at The Pleasance/Assembly/ any other venue that wasn't them". I think the truth is that if you have three days to build a venue that will be used by thousands of people for three weeks, you are always going to be a little bit behind.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a secret. One of the other reasons I like to come up a few days early is so that I get to check out the posters of all the other comics. This is not because I have a bit of a poster fetish. Oh no! It is because I am terrible at remembering names. Faces - I'm pretty good with. Names - I am terrible. Comedians are very thoughtful people. They very helpfully put their name in big letters next to a photo of themselves. This allows me to refresh my memory as to the name of the person I was best friends with last year. So very helpful. However, I had to come clean to one comic. I've seen him a few times in London and we'd got beyond that stage where I could ask him his name again. Easy - I thought - in Edinburgh I'll just double-check his poster. His poster was no help at all. He is part of a sketch group called Harvey, Garvey and The Kane. I didn't really want to risk calling him the wrong one so I came clean. He was very nice about it. His name is Marcus and he is very nice and also funny.

I have now had my first two shows which had some laughing in places so I couldn't be happier. The shows didn't sell out but here's the thing - I suffer for my audience in the same way that a party host suffers. I want everyone to have a nice time and be in no way uncomfortable. Whilst my ego would love a sold out room, I fear everyone would be so hot and uncomfortable, it would make laughter difficult. I'd like somewhere between a bit of a gang and a sell-out. So if the comedy gods could make that happen I'd be very grateful.

Last night I compered The List Party. The List Party is one of those parties that I was desperate to get into when I was growing up in Edinburgh. It seems so glamorous and swanky and I was desperate to be involved. Oh and there was also free booze - did I mention that? Every year the same thing would happen. I would beg and plot to get a ticket, I'd get in and there would be loads of people who managed to "just be invited". Why not me? Why not me? Anyway, last night, not only was I invited, I was hosting the event. Woohoo! I was there legitimately. This was of huge importance to me. I saw some great acts and it was only at 1am when I introduced my last act, noticed the other party attendees were hammered and had another sip of water, that I realised that once again, I've done the List Party wrong.

Good old Edinburgh Festival.

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Arts and Entertainment

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