Did you hear the one about the teacher who decided to take a stand-up comedy show to the largest arts festival in the world, despite having no prior experience?
Well that’s the ambitious plan of Milton Keynes based Mark Row, who this summer will be performing at the Edinburgh Festival, and it’s really no joke!
In August, last year, 36-year-old Mark began his journey along ‘The Long Road to Edinburgh’ and ever since then he has been learning the craft, writing material, and packing in gigs to prepare himself for this incredible challenge.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, he has been filming the entire experience to create a documentary showing the reality of a year in the life of a brand-new comedian. “I had this idea that most people’s view of stand-up comedy is ‘Live at The Appollo’, and ‘Mock the Week’, and that all of the comedians have great shows every night. I wanted to show what life is really like for new comedians on the circuit, and give a glimpse into just how tough performing live comedy at the grass roots really is” said Mark.
Fortunately, he hasn’t been walking this long road alone. Local promoters Ben Robinson and Stephen Powell of ‘The Comedy Cow’ have been supporting Mark along the way, and have provided many opportunities for him to perform, putting him on stage at their regular nights at The Red Dot Bar and even staging gigs especially for him at The Bull in Stony Stratford. “When Mark first told me what he was planning, I thought he was mad” said Ben “having been in Edinburgh and run comedy shows, I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying; but hats off to him.”
Also keeping him on the right path, Mark has been given help and advice from some of the best in the business. Making the documentary has given him the chance to interview established TV comedians James Acaster, Mark Dolan and Dane Baptiste, along with Oliver Double, the UK’s first lecturer in stand-up comedy. “Everyone has been so supportive” said Mark “A lot of them have been quite honest about just how big a task this is going to be, but they all said if I get out and gig as much as possible, there is nothing to stop me succeeding”
What began as a crazy idea, has now become a daunting reality, as Mark recently confirmed his venue for the festival. With shows every night for the full three and a half week run at in Edinburgh, he knows that this will be a marathon not a sprint, but he sincerely hopes that both he and his audience will come out with a smile on their faces.
If you want to follow Mark’s journey all the way to Edinburgh you can keep up to date on Facebook.com/markrowcomedy, Twitter @markrow80 or Instagram @mrmarkrow. Alternatively go to www.thecomedycow.co.uk for regular updates and to see where you can see him performing over the coming weeks and months. If you find yourself in Edinburgh over the summer, you’ll be able to see Mark at Moriarty’s each night at 19:30, from the 3rd – 27th August.