Taking my new stand-up show Girl on Girl to the Edinburgh festival this year and playing at the prestigious venue the Gilded Balloon, was hand on heart the most stressful thing I have ever done — and I lived through the Ed Stone. My nerves were off the scale. Will anyone come to see the show? Will it be a massive disaster? Is this a very public and expensive cry for help? Why don’t I just go on a yoga retreat? These are all the things which swirl round your head seconds before you go on stage. Stand-up is one of the hardest things you can do. It’s just you — there’s no one to hide behind and you live or die by your wit, words and performance. Doing Prime Minister’s Questions is probably the closest thing, but at least political leaders are guaranteed a packed house and people will definitely laugh at you at some point. One of my greatest fears is developing brain freeze and forgetting a chunk of my set, which happened to my former boss, Ed Miliband, in his final conference speech as party leader when he missed out the section about the deficit. I don’t want anyone to miss out on my deficit material, which of course I’ve cut considerably. Thankfully I remembered everything, people laughed at the right places, lots of people came (I even sold out on my final night) and my technician only fell asleep once. The whole thing has not been a disaster, so I’ll claim it as a success. Not bad considering my first preview three weeks earlier was so appalling that someone asked me if it was the first time I had tried stand-up. Hey, if I can cobble a passable comedy show together in three weeks, maybe there’s some hope for Brexit.
Speaking of Ed Miliband, he was also at Edinburgh with his hugely successful podcast Reasons to be Cheerful, which he hosts with Geoff Lloyd.