As a seasoned insomniac I’ve spent many (and I mean many) an hour lying awake, whilst the bulk of you are cradled gently in a blanket of sleep. Whilst you dream of lives gone by, friends dear and the inability to run naked whilst holding a tiny mammal wearing a hat (a common dream), I sneak into your houses and sketch your angelic sleeping faces, leaving the work in frames with a note that just reads ‘soon’. Just kidding! I usually wander about my own house checking for ghosts or lie staring into the dark waiting for sleep to take me, whilst growing infinitely more suspicious of the freezer.
Luckily during the Fringe, conventional waking hours slip onto my clock and for those of you, like me, not looking for an early night there’s an array of things to do that will make your inner insomniac feel like a cultural butterfly or peculiar eccentric.
The most obvious thing to do at an arts festival in the deep of night is to take on the late night shows, of which there are countless running across the board. Comedy wise, there are the long running staples such as ‘Late n Live’ herding in the poor sleepers and drunks for a four hour bear pit, that keeps performers on their toes as they mercilessly fight to appease the crowd before setting them loose on the dance floor to find mates (that’s not to say it’s not fun). Little fact: famously this gig inspired Russell Crowes “are you not entertained” speech in ‘Gladiator’. Other comedic late night staples include: ‘The Stand Late’ (always excellent line ups), ‘Spank’ (never predictable) and, although on the early side of late, ‘Set List’ (once predictable).
The 11pm-1am bracket is just as packed with shows as the 7pm-9pm bracket, so be sure to take a look at what’s around. Some of the crazier gigs inhabit this time slot and you’re never sure of what you’ll find. It was during this bracket a few years ago that myself and some of the Weirdos crowd were introduced to Kristian D Kirklan (16:15 venue 197) and took part in a human womb. If you pushed me for picks for this slot I’d point you to Karl Shultz’ It Might Get Ugly (23:30 Pleasance Courtyard), where established comedians are forced into ditching tested material for brutal honesty. After playing this gig, I can promise you that you’ll see sides of comedians you never knew existed. Also check out John Conway Tonight (midnight at the Pleasance Dome), he’s a silly silly man.
Away from comedy there are Blues nights, Cabaret, Indie Discos, themed parties and an unbelievable amount of bars that will stay open until the sun rises and just you and George Clooney remain alive, shooting holes in the wall to stave off the horde of vampires that wiped out all your friends.
If you want to get away from dives and crowds, Edinburgh lights up at night and, regardless of drifting crowds, the street of the old town are beautiful to view in the dark. Arthur’s Seat is a short walk away and, assuming you go with a torch and preferably friends to stave off not only the hordes of vampires that take a night off the pubs but the usual weirdo’s that bend to the will of the moon, you can wander up. Make it to the top (SAFELY – it’s a long drop) and you have a wonderful view to propose to someone, or for the performers, to assess just what the hell you’re doing with your life…
I once made the midnight climb when going through a bout of my more stubborn insomnia and advise warm clothing. It might have been a lovely summer’s day, but Edinburgh seems to be contractually obliged to have at least one sub-zero temperature per day and often during the festival seasons they do that when you’re out in the night.
Other than that, live life, enjoy the festival and eat when you can. For you night owls awake in the day, who want to hear about an array of sleep problems amidst some quality hilarious sleep talking, get to my show ‘Good Luck Sleeping Jerks’ for 3pm at The Hive part of Heroes of the Fringe. More info.