The show will have to wait – Edinburgh Fringe artist Benjamin Salmon describes what he had planned

The 2020 Edinburgh Fringe was cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic

Edinburgh High Street during the Fringe
Edinburgh High Street during the Fringe
© David Monteith Hodge

I absolutely despise going to parties. The awkwardness of them. The pressure of them. The occasion of partaking in some pretty uninspiring conversation with Jan who works in accounting and is the best friend of the stupid man I so happen to fancy that month, to my mind, is one of the seven circles of hell.

So, for someone who hates parties and who has a few Edinburghs under their belt (not to mention far too many memories of flyering in the rain contemplating how it all went wrong and why I don't have Jennifer Lopez's career), the cancellation of this year's Edinburgh Fringe (arguably one of the world's biggest parties that goes on for way, way too long) was actually quite devastating.

In the end, it took seeing other people's pain and disappointment (and humour) on Twitter surrounding the festival's cancellation to fix my broken heart. None of this was personal. None of us had been invited to the party. There was no more FOMO – and that's no bad thing.

I'm so excited to make people laugh in a theatre again

The one-man play I'd written for Edinburgh – Blowhole – follows a gay 20-something man as he realises that, after a while, there's only so many dick pics you can exchange on Grindr until you have to sit down and come to terms with the person that you've become and the pain you carry in your own life. The process of coming back to the work – reading, tweaking, re-investing emotionally in the play, and laughing all over again with the character of "Him" – has cheered me up beyond belief, just in the same way seeing all those people on Twitter grieving for Edinburgh cheered me up. It's rather beautiful to think that us humans can share our pain and are still able to make one another laugh in the face of that pain, even during a global pandemic.

Benjamin Salmon
Benjamin Salmon
© Darren Bell

It's the ultimate cure for the very specific type of loneliness we're all feeling right now as we collectively find ourselves alone in bed, yet again surrounded by empty bottles of Malbec and empty packets of Kettle chips. It's also pretty powerful, as a writer, to take the time to be still and remind yourself that you've still got so much more to say about the world we find ourselves in – and that you've just gotten started.

This pandemic has made me certain that when the world permits it, people will need a little bit of Blowhole in their lives. I'm so excited to make people laugh in a theatre again that the thought of it makes me cry a little. I'm even excited for people's rubbish parties to start up again – and for me to get back to hating (loving) every single minute of them.