Ashley Frieze- Full Mental Jacket

I can’t help it. I like nutters. This is somewhat handy, since I attract them. I don’t know why, but the disenfranchised see something in me that they can relate to. I am approachable to the veritably bonkers. Just over 4 years ago (almost to the day), I had quite an odd encounter with a drunk man outside a shopping centre which proved this – feel free to read about that here.

In general, nutters are easy to spot.

In Edinburgh during the Fringe, potentially sane people parade the streets as performers. It’s hard to tell now whether you’ve got someone “in character” or off their head on being nutso.

By the way, I don’t want to mock people for being mentally ill. That’s a low blow, and it’s not fair. However, if anyone puts themselves forward as a purveyor of comedy, and you start to feel like their motivation is actually rather disturbing and unsound, then the results can be uncomfortably hilarious, and maybe laughing it off is acceptable. I hope so.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, in the modern world, the inmates of Bedlam come to you.

Last year, feeling particularly flush after a particularly good show, I took co-show-performer and housemate, Ian, off to see a show that was either a work of genius or the workings of a diseased, but extremely lucid, mind. I don’t think I’ve laughed as much at any other show I’ve seen. Crazy can be extremely funny. Given that the purpose of the show was to make us laugh, it was almost guilt-free to be laughing for what may have been the wrong reasons.

Of course all performers are wrong in the head in some way. What gives us the desire to show off like this, and the power to ignore how crazy that really is? It takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to ignore how ridiculous you’re being as you ply your trade, which can make some people utterly uncritical of whether what they’re doing is hitting the mark.

Without naming and shaming, and making the assumption that they’re probably not reading and won’t be seeing themselves in this, I’ll try to paraphrase and recreate an interview that we saw with a performer last year. We were waiting to be interviewed, but this interview really trumped us before we started.

Interviewer: What do you do in your show?
Performer: I get a couple out from the audience to simulate having sex.
I: Anything else?
P: Yes. I get the audience to draw on me. It’s really emancipating. They can draw what they like on me with this marker pen.
I: Can you see what they’ve drawn?
P: Not always, they sometimes draw on my back.
I: Someone appears to have draw a knob and bollocks on your back.
P: I know. It’s great that they’re expressing themselves.

I think this performer had a vision that was larger than her capacity for rational thought. The graffiti on her body could best be described as an instant review.

Again, disturbed, but rather funny.

Maybe we all lack the critical faculty to assess our own sanity and whether what we’re doing is worth doing/sharing with a paying public. I try to give all other performers the respect that we all deserve, but I also expect to be laughing on the inside at some of the total dick in the biscuit tin (i.e. fucking crackers) behaviours that we’ll be seeing in a few days.

After about 4 days, some of it will be coming from me.

Ashley Frieze – The Seven Deadly Sings (Remastered), 2:30PM, 13-28 August, Pravda Room, Espionage, Venue 185. Part of the Free Festival

You can also follow Ashley on Twitter.

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