Stand-up Gráinne Maguire on what makes the Edinburgh Festival special
The comedian reflects on years spent working at the Fringe
This article is from 2012.
I adore the Edinburgh Festival. I romanticise it all out of proportion. When I first came here seven years ago, to work as a tech at a tiny venue, I was so overwhelmed by how cool and confident everyone seemed, I almost turned back home. To me, this was the Big One. From Beyond the Fringe to Footlights, to the halcyon days of late nineties stand-up, to being part of this overwhelming, swaggering, noisy mess seemed to me one of the greatest things you could achieve in life.
It is the comedians’ Olympics. This is where our former Gods earned their laurels, where our current champions are crowned, where each generation comes to prove they’re running fast enough to keep up.
Bringing a show to the Edinburgh Festival is daunting. The world does not need another comedian; the festival does not need another show. It can feel like you’re breaking your heart to get to a party nobody has invited you to.
And, despite the ruinous cost of it all, most performers aren’t looking for financial reward or even fame. They just want a chance to be included in the gang; respect from their peers, a nod of approval from their heroes, a chance to feel like they’re finally really part of it.
It’s that slightly hysterical energy that drives us, that makes us come here to begin with, makes us want to quit comedy for good by the end of week two and that runs the whole shebang. For three weeks we get to be part of the greatest arts festival in the world. We keep coming back, despite the heartbreak, vanquished dreams and missed opportunities because, in the end, performers are as tough and romantic as the festival we love. The Edinburgh Festival is our town and it always will be. Hit it Gershwin.
Gráinne Maguire: Where Are All the Fun Places and Are Lots of People There Having Better Fun?, Underbelly, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, until 26 Aug, 4.20pm.