Once upon a time there was a man who, suffering from depression, went along to see his doctor. The doctor recommended that he go out for the evening and enjoy himself, get a few laughs, perhaps go and see the famous clown Grock. The man turned to him and said: ‘But, I am Grock.’
It’s a story that may – or may not – be apocryphal but it’s a famous example of the whole ‘tears of a clown’ thing with Robin Williams being the latest casualty. I heard about Robin Williams‘ death last night after another packed day of Free Fringing which made the news all the more poignant.
Yesterday morning I’m sure if you’d asked any one of the performers setting up their act in any of the last broom cupboards or mingin’ cave spaces available here in Edinburgh they’d have bitten your hand off if you’d offered them a career like Robin Williams had. In fact, never mind that, most of them would kill for a four star review and an audience member count in double figures. It’s no wonder melt-downs happen when someone pours their life and soul into something and finds that a) they’re put into dog-eat-dog competition with thousands of others, and/or b) nobody is really that interested in what they’re doing in the first place. As well as seeing a good few shows so far I have also seen a few of those melt-downs happen. So why do they do it? Fame – I guess, for many of them. Get that and all your problems will be solved, but people like Grock, Robin Williams and countless others prove that is hardly ever the case.
What’s impressed me most on The Fringe has been the example of the older guys and the professional performers who have schleped their act around for years and they realise that fickle mistress of fame is a heartless bitch who’s never going to look twice at them. Most importantly, they know IT DOESN’T MATTER!!