Oh my goodness! So, I'm back from Edinburgh Fringe. What a month. I’m absolutely knackered; I've been full of snot and headcold for the past week but I thought it was about time I jotted down a few lines on the experience.

I took two shows this time around - 'Slacker-In-Law' for adults and 'All Hail the Poetry King' for families, which is the first time I’ve tried performing two different shows for the entire run. I thought that two shows might be too much at one point (a few other performers said they thought it could be) but you know what? I found it no real bother. I think I’d rather perform two different shows in future. ‘All Hail the Poetry King’ is half show half English lesson, so it just feels a bit like teaching, really, and ‘Slacker-In-Law’ is sort of an expanded set of poems, and performing sets like that has been my job for the last few years anyway. One thing I’ve liked is how performing two shows gives me double the chance to have a positive day - I definitely had three or four shows over the course of the run that felt flat, or where I felt like I failed to connect as well as I’d have liked. Whenever this happened I had another show the same day that was targeting a different audience and the other show always worked out particularly well, so it cancelled out the -meh- gig. Emotionally, two shows actually felt less tiring and stressful than when I’d taken one show on the paid Fringe in the past.

Performing as part of PBH’s free fringe was a really good choice too. I just like the dynamic you have with an audience when they’ve come in for free, and I really enjoy the process of getting money in the bucket and how it can help you to evaluate the show. Our venue was great - we really hit the ground running at The Bourbon Bar. The room was in top-notch condition and the tech was really good too. I’d got my mate Neil Spokes to help me out with tech and I’m so glad I did - having him in my corner meant I could focus on just performing both shows as well as possible. Between Neil and my incredible flyering team (thank you so much guys!!!) I really felt like I was getting a LOT of stress taken off my shoulders. There were a bunch of other great performers on the bill in the venue too - magicians, musicians and songwriters, hypnotists, burlesque dancers and some lovely, lovely poets. Rowan McCabe and Jess Green were both sharing the space and getting to meet and hang out with them at the festival has almost certainly been the highlight of the whole month for me.

I was able to perform at a bunch of other nights whilst I was up this year. Loud Poets had a really ambitious show and I loved getting to perform with them again. They’ve been killing it up at The Edinburgh Fringe for a few years now and I’m always so impressed at how they keep pushing themselves to take risks and break boundaries in their work. I also got to perform with Stand Up & Slam, a full-on battle between comedians and poets hosted by my good mate (and fellow board game obsessive) Dan Simpson. I was teamed up with Harry Baker, which was really cool and it was greta to hang out with both him and Chris in between their sold out shows this year. I even got to battle Harry in a one on one Pagematch towards the end of The Fringe, and although I won, probably because (unlike me) Harry’s prep time was being eaten up by writing material for Simon Mayo’s show each day, it was such a good laugh to have a compliments battle with each other as part of the gig.

My shows themselves were generally rammed, which was sort of a relief. I spend so much time writing at home and putting up online content that it’s really good to know that people will head out to see what I’ve got. The personal highlight was at the end of one of my ‘SLacker-In-Law’ shows when Gordon, the lead singer of Unst band ‘The Bonxies’ (I mention them in a poem in the show), introduced himself to me and said he’d popped down to see the show. We had a drink afterwards and it was lovely to see him.

I only got one review during the whole run - but it was 5 stars for ‘All Hail the Poetry King’, so I can't really complain. Here's me with the judging panel after they called me out to let me know what they were awarding. I definitely felt like there were less reviewers heading out to Free Fringe shows than back when Mixy and I first headed out with ‘Dead Poets’. It’s a real pity, and it’s probably going to push me into going on the paid Fringe next year - I just think it gives you the best chance of getting noticed, sadly. The spirit of The Fringe is so strong within the Free Fringe and I’m not looking forward to leaving that behind.

I'm going to take both shows out on tour at some point soon, but for now I'm going to keep resting and drinking squash. Congrats to everyone else that made it for the whole run. I saw so many great shows and I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a vibrant artistic community. Same again next year?