Edinburgh Festival Day 20: That was the Festival that was: A Funny Old Week / Mark Little, Neighbours soap star turned comedian and performance artist, reflects on the final days

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The Independent Culture
Crikey. A diary. Thinking back. If you can remember the Edinburgh Festival, you weren't really there . . .

THE SATURDAY BEFORE LAST

I'm in Broddick, the Surfers Paradise of the Isle of Arran. I've picked up some stones to use on my set. I've brought some rocks from Australia and swapped them for the stones on Arran, in case anyone's worried. I'll use them as a mini-stone circle. If I get nervous on stage, I'll just step into my stone circle and energise. (A corn circle is a bit harder to reproduce on stage.) One week from opening night, and it's just the thing I need . . . a ring of confidence.

I can see the glow of Festival Edinburgh (or is it a nuclear power station?) over the horizon across the loch from my hotel window. A car ferry and a quick drive and I'll be there. Festival madness.

MONDAY

Off to work. We drive our auto on to the crowded vessel. Crowds for me are a bit weird. It's all 'Joe, is that Joe Mangel from Neighbours? It's Joe, Joe, Joe. Hey Joe]' I respond better to Mark. I do my best, but it addles me McBrain.

Off the boat that Joe Mangel was on, we (me and the family) drive to the Fest.

TUESDAY

Our flat isn't ready until Friday. Two Poms put us up, the whole tribe. With a true kindness and hospitality that made me review my attitude to Poms as racist.

WEDNESDAY

My eldest boy's 10th birthday. We took him to the Tattoo. The history of warry moments. A strange gig for a peace activist, but I got through it. Taught the kids a lesson in life. War versus Music.

THURSDAY

Have to explain lighting and sound requirements to my techs. Art-techs I call them. I manage to confuse and excite them to my ideas on theatre and funny (comedy). NO DRAMA.

SATURDAY

I've started. Full house. I was excited. I was funny. I was tough. I was articulate. Whew]]]]]

Conquistador of the Useless is my pop art invention for the theatre (marvellous). It's epic comedy . . . beyond comedy. Twelve years of comedy work finally coming together in one piece: stand-up and theatre (marvellous). It's in a constant state of workshop. I'm a comedian in search of a theatre style.

It's an attempt to excite people who are bored with stand-up comedy to come to the theatre and it's also for people who are bored with theatre. To give them back to the theatre. To see the magic of the theatre (marvellous) and not treat it like some elitist church place. It's basically Australian Deconstructionalism. Breaking down the pretences of theatre and trying to give performance art the good and bad name it deserves. It's either trying to be confusing, confronting or unfortunate. I'll let you decide.

SUNDAY

Went to the Chinese State Circus. Totally committed balancing and tossing.

MONDAY

I'm more relaxed. MARK LITTLE. SOLD OUT.

WEDNESDAY

Raining. There's a Bulgarian animation festival on the box. You have great telly over here.

THURSDAY

Beauty. The sun came out. I'm in a taxi writing. The cabbie wants to talk about Neighbours. And Mike Oldfield's in town - Tubular Bells II.

I'm excited. Tubular Bells was the first cassette I ever bought. For some reason I bought the CD not long ago in a fit of pique. I used to do a remix of Tubular Bells in my stand-up set. I changed the man who says 'Two slightly distorted guitars' to make him sound a bit Nineties, but I couldn't change it anywhere else. It's just perfect. I'll have to go and see him. It'll be funny. He must have a sense of humour to even consider doing a sequel. I hope so, for everyone's sake.

I was last here in 1990, but that felt like the end of the Eighties, the end of an era. Now it's the beginning of one. In Edinburgh, I feel I'm on the cusp of a new cultural revolution.

It's all been a bit of a David Ickeian adventure. He's been a modern icon of mine for a while now. I call him Mr David Icke to show a modicum of respect. I'd like to meet him, but it'd be wrong to chase him up. I don't want to hassle him. But I think in the psychic scheme of things, we'll just bump into each other one day . . .

Conquistador of the Useless, Assembly Rooms, 54 George St (venue 3), 031-226 2428. Then touring the UK, dates to be confirmed. Mark Little is also appearing at the Holsten Pils Comedy Festival in London, 27 Oct-15 Nov.

(Photograph omitted)

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