Welcome to our Fringe Debuts series, where comedians taking their first show to Edinburgh Fringe will give you a little taster of what to expect, an insight into their world, or really super weird musings on something equally bizarre — to be honest, we just let them run with it. If you’re readying yourself for a giant lol injection in August, now’s your chance to find something NEW to add to your list.
Sam Lake is performing Cake, a show about his own personal love story and reassessing goals when things don’t quite go to plan. Here he tells us what happened when his wedding and show were both cancelled.
This year, I'll be doing my first solo run at the fringe with my show Cake and I thought it might be nice to tell you how the show came to be, how I had to throw it in the bin for a bit and how I knew it was ready to go.
To give you a bit of a journey into how my show came to be, I wrote the first version of Cake back in 2020. It was always my plan to do my first show about my wedding day, which was due to happen not long after Fringe 2020. I've only ever wanted to tell true-ish stories on stage. And the story of planning a wedding felt like it'd be a good tale to tell with lots of material to play with and truthfully, I thought it'd be nice for my first show to be in some way about my husband, David. Being the partner of a performer, let alone a comedian, isn't easy. He does such an amazing job of feigning excitement when I say things like "Honey, I've been booked for an unpaid 5 at Comedy Cumpdump in Llandudno, I'll be gone for 4 days because the trains are off so I have to kayak there. Can you believe how my career's going from strength to strength?". So to acknowledge my appreciation for his unwavering support, I got to work on a show about us and our lil' love story.
I thought the name Cake fit quite well, simply because weddings have cakes AND it rhymes with Lake. Bosh. Done. It was either that or “Don't Lake My Heart, My Sammy Lakey Heart”.
My intention was to have a show that was deliciously campy & interactive. I was going to have audience members pretend to be the guests, the mothers-in-law, the best man giving an improvised speech. By March, I had the bones of a show, I'd smashed out a few WIPs and was feeling good about where the show could end up. That's of course when lockdowns hit, our wedding was cancelled, live comedy came to a screeching halt and no one knew what was going on anymore.
Obviously this was a difficult time for everyone, so I shan't dwell on it. But as a comic, that year and a half was largely spent trying to remember how to say a joke on stage again, let alone say enough in sequence that it lasts a whole hour. I had totally forgotten about Cake. But on a far more positive note, this time was also spent actually getting married. David and I decided not to put it off any longer and happily strutted to the registry office to do a covid-safe wedding.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, the subject of Fringe 2022 just popped up! It felt like everyone was starting to make plans. I got booked in for a WIP and I thought "Oh yeah, I *had* a show...that doesn't make any sense anymore". What the hell was I going to talk about? The wedding I wrote the show about wasn't the one we ended up having. Before I knew it, I was behind the mic, expected to tell jokes for A WHOLE HOUR, ARE YOU TAKING THE ACTUAL PISS? I thought "should I just tell them about the wedding we did have? I've got nothing else to talk about". So that's what I did.
Sometimes we just have to say things on stage, unprepared, not sure where we're going. I simply told audiences the story of our wedding day, just as I remembered it, not necessarily trying to be funny, but trying to tell a good story. Bit by bit, I found a new bit of funny every time I told the story to a new crowd. And the show got progressively better, the structure of it started to fall into place. It was a proper “trust the process” kinda thing. And so here I am with what I think is a finished show.
Now, with a couple of weeks to go before I take Cake out of the oven (WINK), I'm genuinely excited to do it all month. I still freak out over it, of course. Panicking if the story still works, if certain jokes need to be shuffled or sharpened. Should I freshen it up a bit? Is this the final product? Am I done now? I guess you might never know when to take the cake out of the oven, you just pull it out when it feels right. But even a cake that didn't turn out quite right is often still so delicious. People will happily eat a cake out of a bin, that’s how much people like cakes! If you like your cake, other people will too.
Sam Lake: Cake runs from 3rd-28th Aug, 9:50pm, at the Pleasance. Tickets here
Sam is on Twitter and Instagram at @mrsamlake
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