Edinburgh Fringe - and so to bed. . .if you’re lucky!

Comedian Paul McCaffrey.
Comedian Paul McCaffrey.

Room for a Laugh column: The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

In my last jumble of thoughts and words I generously imparted five tips for attending, or performing at, the Edinburgh Fringe.

These nuggety gems included advice on the lingo, lifestyle, what to see, heroes and Scottish Independence. One area I did not mention was accommodation.

In performing a show at the Fringe you have to prepare yourself for the inevitable highs, lows and yet lower lows of producing a show: the expense, the anxiety, low audience numbers, reviews.

You also have to prepare yourself for an exciting fusion of camping, boarding school, a refugee camp and not sleeping.

As I sit writing this on the train to my fourth Fringe, I have experienced many of the delights and charms of staying in Edinburgh.

In my first year I stayed in a hostel come B&B where everything was nailed down but for the sheets and biscuits.

There were, however, no ladders for the bunk beds - as obviously these were deemed too tricky to nail down – so any available body part recumbent on the lower bunk was fair game with the contours of the face making pretty nifty footholds.

In my second year I stayed in a three (double!) bedroomed flat with 21 other budding comedians, improvisers, actors and drifters from my university’s comedy society.

My spot was on the kitchen floor which stopped me going to sleep until people had finished eating their deep-fried dinners around 2am before being awoken at 6.30am when the one healthy guy made his pre-jog celery smoothie using what sounded like a chainsaw.

He continued this routine even after I had suggested that he would surely get as much nutritional content from a glass of water. And a good deal more enjoyment.

I lasted two nights in the kitchen before finding a friend of a friend of a friend who had left Edinburgh suddenly on a work assignment and now had an empty flat.

Left suddenly on a work assignment, though. I had some misgivings as to whether my friend twice removed was an assassin but made my way to their flat nonetheless.

Obviously, I was foolish to think that I was the only one selected to recuperate in the lair of a hitman.

By the time I arrived there were eight other ex-kitchen floorers who had taken full advantage of the available beds and left me with an enthusiastic sofa bed which was forever intent on returning to its sofa form.

Thusly, if you absent-mindedly strayed into a foetal position in lieu of resolutely digging your heels into the foot of the bed, the bottom third would spring towards the headboard mousetrapping you into the bowels of aged Scandinavian furniture.

I think the most important thing to remember is not to plan too thoroughly, you will only be disappointed. Far better to play things by ear.

Comedian Paul McCaffrey told me about his first Edinburgh when several of the performer bars were open till 5am. Having ingratiated himself to a group of strangers with some early morning breakdancing, Paul was invited back to a house to continue the revelry.

Six hours later, he awoke on a sofa in a strange house. Leaving to catch a cab back to his accommodation, he found a taxi number on his phone and asked the first person he came across what part of Edinburgh he was in.

“It’s not Edinburgh, it’s Berwick, mate,” came the reply.

“And whereabouts in Scotland is that?” asked Paul.

“This is England, mate...”

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday, September 10 with Sitting Room favourite and celebrity quizzer, Paul Sinha, plus a strong undercard of Christian Reilly, Ian Smith and compère Katie Mulgrew.

Tickets and more information are available at www.sittingroomcomedy.com.

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails