Just two more shows now, and I'm looking forward to getting back to Oxford. Edinburgh is a smashing place, but - unlike some of my friends - at no point have I thought that I would like to live here. How little did I ever imagine that I would fall in love with Oxford again, but how wonderful that I have.
I suppose one of the points about useful experiences is that you don't know exactly what you'll learn from them. I had hoped that I'd get more comfortable on stage as a result of this intensive stand-up experience, and that has happened. There have been times when - in the middle of the afternoon in a well-lit bar - the audience's muted response and blank faces have seemed like a fairly devastating rejection. But that has morphed into a greater appreciation of the fact that all sorts of things determine how loudly a person will laugh, that comedy can be enjoyed in more than one way (although laughter is still the lifeblood of a stand-up) and that yes, I need to improve a lot.
Having had a dip in confidence during the middle of our run, when I really began to wonder if I am funny, I am now more persuaded that this improvement can and will take place over the years. There's so much to learn, much of it unquantifiable and perhaps even impossible to articulate; some things will change without my conscious mind really being aware of them.
I now understand a little better that my sense of humour is not mainstream, and that this will mean some audiences don't 'get' me. Sensing that, there are two roads that can be taken. One is to try to adapt, and become a performing seal. The other option is to plough on down the road I really want to take, aware that I will fall behind others at times, but sustained by knowing where I want to be eventually. It hardly needs to be stated which road the coward and which road the brave man would take.
Sucking up audience disapproval and disinterest has been tiresome, but developing a thicker skin is priceless. That said, I never want to become indifferent to the crowd. Sometimes - indeed as often as not - a bad response will be deserved, and my fault. And when I get it right, and that coincides with an appreciative and generous audience, it's awesome.
So what didn't I expect to get out of Edinburgh? I didn't expect to start enjoying repeating myself day-to-day and fine-tuning my material. I didn't expect to conclude that there's nothing wrong with crafting something, or that I should have a go at sitting down and writing stuff. But that has all happened.
And I have been reminded that although I'm 31, I'm a toddler in comic years. I see comedians whom I don't rate who have been going for a while, and they do have a certain confidence that comes with time.
And I have seen comedians whom I do rate highly, and come to realise that they too have benefitted from stage time. Even those who are quite inspired have clearly got better over time. This applies, apparently, to one of the outstanding talents of the Fringe, a guy whom a friend saw years ago be offensive and inadequate, yet whom she now acknowledges as superb. He is Daniel Kitson.
Soon after starting stand-up, I heard about this guy. Widely held among comedians to be the master, he is little-known among the general public. He had a small part in Phoenix Nights, but now detests Peter Kay (the feeling is mutual). Kitson shuns TV, and has set about trying to find 'his' audience.
I'd heard good things. He was said to be quite brilliant at stand-up, and also able to compere rowdy nights, whilst retaining an indie sensibility and a misanthropic shyness (and having bottle glasses and a stutter). At the same time, I heard he was a fabulous storyteller - a spinner of touching and memorable yarns.
I missed him last year. The other night I had the chance to see him for a fiver at 1:30 in the morning. I took it.
He read a story, interspersed with songs from the wonderful Gav Osborn. The venue was overcrowded, and I sat contorted for over an hour. It didn't matter. Kitson was spellbinding. All the hyperbole surrounding him is justified. He is utterly brilliant.
He is also most assuredly human. I would never claim to have his talent, but I do increasingly see how talent can be developed and honed. (Even George Best trained like a demon in the early days, you know.) So while I feel a long way from where I want to be, I still believe (with intermittent doubts) that I can get there. But it will take a few years, at least.
What I have no intention of doing is giving up, or trying to modify my act to make it more mainstream. I absolutely accept that I am way off being the finished article. I absolutely do not accept that I can't find my audience (to a certain extent I have, in Oxford) or that I should pander to halfwits. F-CK that. If I don't think it's funny, it's not going in.
People have been hugely supportive up here in Edinburgh - especially my cousin Hannah, her friend Dennis, and my sister. Lots of friends have come to see me, and other friends and family have sent good wishes from afar. All are deeply appreciated.
Finally, I want to say that I retain great confidence in the comedy skills of my colleagues Rob Alderson and Nick Hodder, and in those of our friend and flatmate Paul F. Taylor. It's been a pleasure working with them all, and I am delighted that we are cohorts on this exciting journey. We must never lose sight of the fact that it's an adventure.