It feels odd being in Edinburgh as a veteran. Where does the time go and all that? But being 'old' only increases my sense of belonging to the comedy world and particularly to the people who I cut my comedy teeth with and sometimes on.
Last night was a good case in point when I caught Mandy Knight's show playing directly after my show and in the same venue.
Mandy and I go all the way back to the very beginning - although perhaps Mandy won't remember our first encounter; given her past and how inconsequential it was for her.
It was The Guilty Pea Comedy Club on Rathbone Street in London. In my head, I was down to do an open spot but I had my dates confused. Mandy was hosting the night and explained that the bill was full to the little wannabe, but I remember how polite and how beautiful she was and I went on my way.
We've gigged so many times since - at The Comedy Store and the dreaded Jongleurs Xmas 'parties'. Parties for the punters perhaps, but never for the comics!
Mandy has become one of the greatest comics and hosts of them all, such that all comics admire her chops and are pleased that it is Mandy bringing the room to order and then to laughter - and creating the perfect stage for us. When comic's struggle, they often like to blame the MC - but this is not an option when it's Mandy's gig.
Her show this year in Edinburgh is exposing and sad. She depicts her painful childhood and early drug fuelled adulthood which will surely have erased her memory of meeting an open spot wannabe at The Guilty Pea; a childhood that we associate with other kinds of people. And so heartening then because Mandy has prevailed against the grave odds that fate dealt her. The ending of her bitter-sweet and angrily funny show is beautiful and I am proud that I have Mandy Knight as a colleague and a friend.
And from Mandy's show to dinner with Fred McAuley, Phil Jupitus, Andy Smart, Marcus Brigstocke and John Moloney - for a curry of course and a chance to catch up on all things comedy whilst avoiding any talk of any young turks having the Edinburgh of their lives.
I have seen all of these guys encore and tank (some more than others, but no names) and because comedy is so exposing - it makes the bonds between the people stupid enough to try it - so strong.