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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Psychologist starts on fringes
Neil Frude
Neil Frude has worked for the NHS for most of his life
Proving that laughter is the best medicine, a south Wales psychologist made his professional comedy debut at Edinburgh's fringe festival on Sunday.

Neil Frude, 57, said he was happy that "the hardest gig" of his career was over and done with.

But he has no chance to recuperate, as he now has the rest of a 16-night run to complete.

In the run-up to his debut, Prof Frude was worried he might be performing for just a handful of people.

"I went to the venue the day before to see the space where I would be performing, and I asked how many tickets they had sold - and it was two," he said.

"The size of audiences on the fringe is legendarily small - the average audience is about 12 - but I had the fear of performing in front of two people.

"In the end we had 18, which was great."

He said the show went well, although he admitted he did not get "the raucous belly-laughs" he had hoped for.

I will be tweaking the act, and interacting with the audience more
Neil Frude

"It was my first ever comedy performance that people have paid to see, so I am going to learn a hell of a lot," said the Cardiff lecturer.

"It was the hardest gig of my career, and it took a bit out of me.

"But it is very interesting to find what I have learnt, and how much the act will change over the 16 days."

Prof Frude said he got "lots of positive feedback" from people after the show.

"I was more interested in the bits they didn't like," he said.

"I will be tweaking the act, and interacting with the audience more, rather than just the lecture format.

"I am on a steep learning curve, and that's how I feel - I want to get it right.

Neil Frude
Frude was used to a different kind of audience

He said that enjoying the fringe experience was part of the reason why he came to the festival.

"I wanted to go to the fringe, and thought it would be more fun to perform.

And he is making full use of his time in Scotland's capital city.

"I have already seen at least a dozen shows," he said.

"The things I have seen have been everything from brilliant to dire.

"It is a spectrum of styles, a spectrum of quality - it is a matter of personal taste."

As for his show, he hopes it will cause a buzz on the streets, and help cause a fuss at the box office.

"People don't know what they are coming to, so it is word-of-mouth a lot of the time" he said.

"It is a 50-seater theatre, and we hope to have at least one night when it sells out."

The Language of Love and Lust, at The Zoo, 140 The Pleasance, Edinburgh is on each evening at 2130 BST until 30 August.

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