Festival veteran

The List Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Festival veteran

Lucy Porter wanted to be like Kate Adie but ended up being more like Lee Evans. That’s what repeatedly coming to the Fringe does to you. She doesn’t mind though…

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival ruined my life. That sounds melodramatic, but it’s absolutely true. My childhood dreams were thwarted and my path to alcohol-related injury, the compulsive need to show off in public and thousands of wasted hours spent in the company of socially inadequate egotists can trace its roots in my first trip to the Athens of the North.

In the summer of 1992 I had won a place at Manchester University to study English, with ambitions of becoming an investigative/war journalist. Kate Adie, Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer were my role models. I was a fierce and committed feminist, socialist and humanist. I had no ambition to become a humorist, but I nonetheless entered an essay competition in the London listings magazine Time Out to be a panellist for the prestigious Perrier Award (now, of course, the If.Commedies).

I had a friend who had experienced an ill-advised bunk-up with a very famous comedian in a comedy club toilet, so I took her experience as a starting point and wrote an essay about which comics I’d most like to be stuck in a toilet with and why. Puerile and stupid, my essay nonetheless won the prize (I suspect because there were very few other entrants, comedy not being as huge as it is now) and I found myself at the Festival.

After the best, funniest, most booze-fuelled month of my life, I decided that I would make a life in or around the world of comedy. I’ve been coming to the Festival in one capacity or another ever since.

I started by getting a job working for the Perrier award as an administrator. My duties included delivering very weighty cases of champagne to award nominees, all of whom seemed to live on the top floor of tenement buildings in the New Town. (Lee Evans will forever live in my heart as a lovely guy – he was the one who offered to help me carry crates of booze to other comedians.)

Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and become a stand-up. I competed in the final of So You Think You’re Funny against Johnny Vegas and Natalie Haynes. Lee Mack won, which I think was the right decision.

Lucy Porter, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 2–25 Aug (not 6, 13), 7.40pm, £13–£14 (£11.50– £12.50). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £7.

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