When I first dipped my toe into the world of comedy four years ago I was horrified by what I saw. Everything seemed so corporate, run by a small group of agents and management companies, with everyone involved interested only in making money and getting on the telly. "Where are the indie comedians?" I cried.
There are, of course, some comedians who at least "feel" indie, as there are certain bands who sound like indie bands even though they have large followings and/or record companies. The wonderful Josie Long, for instance, is very much the comedy equivalent of Art Brut (this year's show reminded me of Eddie Argos telling other people to "form a band"), Daniel Kitson is Half Man Half Biscuit (lauded by fans and other bands but determined to do things his own way) and Stewart Lee is, of course, The Fall. But where were the comedians who operated outside the mainstream? Not to put too fine a point on it, where were the comedian equivalents of people like me?
But like an NME Editor writing the annual "Why Are There No Political Bands?" editorial, the fault was all my own. Of course there are indie comedians, I just hadn't been to see them! This year I left behind the Pleasance Courtyard and the front page of Chortle and went out into the wilds of the Free Fringe, where I discovered loads and loads of amazing shows. It was a whole world of comedians doing exactly what they wanted to do without caring if it got them a job presenting CBeebies or not. Here were ridiculous shows full of joy and excitement, presenting new ways of doing things that were sometimes amazing, sometimes confusing, but always fun.
It was inspiring - everyone was enthusiastic, and everyone was pitching in together to not only write and perform, but also to organise themselves, do their own promotion and run their own venues. It felt like I'd come home!
And now that I actually am home, back in London after our show finished on Saturday, I'm looking back and realising that this was definitely my best Fringe yet, in large part due to seeing so many free shows. If you're up there for the last week I'd recommend doing the same – go on! It'll cost you nothing, and might just change your life!
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