Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath), Edinburgh
Christopher Bliss is just too good to be true. He swaggers into the room to the strains of Living La Vida Loca, slapping the upraised hands of the front row as he sweeps by. He’s dressed in truly horrible style – including the fashion ‘NO!’ of orthopaedic sandals with white socks – and, without further ado, proceeds to deliver his ‘masterclass in novel writing’ with not an ounce of self-awareness. Writing a novel is easy he assures us; he’s written hundreds! He never spends more than five minutes on each of them and he never ever rewrites a single word!
As a (ahem!) novelist, I can only sit there and reflect on the sorry fact that I’ve been doing it wrong for so many years.
Bliss, of course, is a construct (think David Brent or Alan Partridge). He’s the creation of comedian, Rob Carter, but we won’t hold that against him, especially when he’s mastered every written art save for one – the thing that’s always eluded him is character comedy. Meta? I guess so! He proceeds to commandeer the room and quickly has the audience eating out of his hand. Perhaps what we’re witnessing here is actually a master class in audience manipulation. He’s clearly in his element as he interacts with the crowd and soon has us shouting out suggestions, making noises of both attraction and repulsion, even bellowing his ‘catchphrase’ (“Ruddy hell!”) at regular intervals. It seems that he’s on the lookout for an apprentice and one of us might just be that lucky person.
Bliss is a new name to me and I can only regret that it’s taken me this long to encounter him. He’s that rarest of things, a brilliant character comedian… and a literary genius to boot. I can’t wait for his words of advice on poetry, which I have long considered my Achilles heel.
Those seeking his words of wisdom should hurry on down to the Pleasance Courtyard without further delay – it can only be a matter of time before the literary festival claims him as one of their own.