I have a list in my head, constantly updated, of favourite places to sit. It’s completely normal, shut up. Some of them are, although truthful, blindingly obvious. Across from my wife at a nice Italian restaurant. Next to my wife outside a nice Italian bar. You might be sensing a theme here. These are places where I can live comfortably in the moment, the future’s fears and the past’s regrets temporarily sedated by the placid contentment of my surroundings and the company I’m in.
There are less obvious ones, too. Sitting on my suitcase on the back edge of a street pitch, waiting for the alloted time for me to stand up, straighten my tie, and flex my schtick muscles. That’s always been a good one – sipping on a coffee as I let the cocktail of nerves and confidence settle into the right amounts of each, to fuel some fun. I’m sure, in fact, that after my death, when the gods tot up what I spent the majority of my life doing, it’ll turn out that my life’s work was basically sitting on a variety of suitcases, waiting for my show. I’m happy with that. The friendships made, the shows seen, and the memories imprinted from my vantage point at the back of a pitch, with a combination latch digging into my ass, are – to quote Professor Harold Hill – golden.
But as my work takes me to places new, so the list of favourite places to sit gets added to. Uncomfortable as it often is, a seat on an airplane taking me to somewhere I’ve never been before, is for sure on the list. Trying to sleep, but my head buzzing with all the puzzles to be solved that a new adventure brings. Making sure to wring every last drop out of the privilege that my life has lucked me into. Likewise, a long journey to a place I’ve been to before, a place I love, but that I only get to see every few years, is a special kind of joy. As I write this, I’m a week away from travelling back to Toronto, one of my favourite cities on Earth, and even better, it’ll be filled with people I rarely see, but adore. Is there a word for a yearning that feels good because you can count the days until it’s satisfied? And you bet your ass I’m going back to the Lakeview Restaurant and having the walnut salad with a side of dark rye toast and honey. The last time I had that, I was about the get the tattoos that are on my arm and my side. The tattoos that I touch when I need to feel their words in my head to remind me of things. I need no reminding about the dark rye toast with honey, though.
This month a new favourite place to sit has presented itself. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been hosting a late night variety show at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was all of the things that the fringe always is – stressy, complicated, harder work that you might imagine, but mostly, after all the dust has settled, it was absurd amounts of fun. I cast a team of some of my favourite performers to be in the show every night, and they all, faultlessly, aced the gig. They don’t know this but my thinking when picking acts was to create a family. All different, all with their own unique spin, but all somehow, similarly eccentric. An Addams Family of variety.
Every night, between my bits, I’d go and sit in the cul-de-sac wing, stage left, and watch. And after each member of the cast had done their thing, they’d go sit in the spare seats at the far right of the audience. So, sitting on a chair stolen from the dressing room, I’d be able to look out to from the back corner of the stage, at the person performing, and in the same eyeline, I’d see other members of the cast in the crowd, laughing and heckling. It was beautiful. A view that nobody else will ever see – a little gift reserved only for the host of the show, recieved gratefully. One of my favourite places to sit.