The Edinburgh Fringe. For many people it is a collection of artistic nerds and comedy geeks. For others, it is a comedy 'Mecca'. A pilgrimage that thousands of people make every single year in the hope that they might find or become the UK's (and the World's) next star on the circuit.
So what was I, a small time comedian from the Middle East, doing there? Well, in one word, research. And lots of it.
The truth is that in the long term it is my desire to move to either the UK or the US with the hope of moving up the comedy ladder and reaching a point of success and publicity that will allow me to spread the cheer to as many people as I possibly can.
I went to London a few days before heading up to the Scottish capital to check out a few venues there including the UK's number one venue, The Comedy Store. Following that, it was up to Edinburgh to sample some of the festivals delights.
Before I went I made a search to see if there were any performances I absolutely must catch, but having found out that in just the 3 nights I was there, there were 982 shows ONLY in comedy (so that's not including cabaret, variety, theatre and arts). So safe to say, I was spoilt for choice and really couldn't be bothered to make a list.
So we got there and just winged it. We popped into bars, walked around streets and simply went with the flow. The streets are lined with posters and flyer touters (people who hand out flyers) and for the majority of the time they would guide us to our next entertainment. For a few more special shows, we consulted the 'Bible' of shows...the programme guide.
Whilst there I saw character sketches, musical treats, mini stand-up compilations and big names in Phil Nichol (celebrating his 20th year at The Fringe) and the great Omid Djalilli, whose career I have been following for some time.
So, did I find out what I wanted. Yes. I learnt that to be a comedian at The Fringe it is extremely expensive. Marketing costs, venue rental, accommodation and the general day-to-day living for an entire month comes in at a huge expense which is only recovered through ticketing and kind donations (vital for the Free Fringe shows).
Secondly, could I compete? Comedy is a funny business. There's amazingly talented individuals and people who are winging it somehow. I think, in comparison with what I know, and what I can be myself, I could handle myself and, in the performing arts, the quality of your work speaks for itself and can guide your path ahead of you.
I'll still step away from it all and gather myself. I need to put together a stronger portfolio of what I'm capable of and develop a decent amount of kick-ass material, but, who knows, maybe at some point in the future it'll be my name in lights in the fair city of Edinburgh.