Within half an hour of hopping off the train, I’m battling my way down the Royal Mile, hood up against a drizzle that’s not quite rain yet, accepting every leaflet thrust in to my hand. I’m instantly affected with Fringe Fever, promising everyone that I’ll definitely be there, while starting to realise that my mental schedule isn’t going to hold all of these shows.

I pause to pick up my big red Fringe guide – which would become my bible for the next five days – and I’m immediately targeted by a man with a flyer. One of many.

He tells me he’s advertising the best stand up in Edinburgh, and the most handsome man in town, before I rudely interrupt him with: “Hey – I know you.”

He is not quite a celebrity. I don’t think he’s ever been on the telly. He definitely doesn’t know me. So, understandably, he is a little taken aback.

This guy is Carey Marx, who I saw in a basement comedy night in Putney almost a year ago. I tell him this, and he confesses to being the ‘remarkably good-looking’ comedian on the flyers. Now, he’s basically my best mate.

My point is this. For three weeks in Edinburgh, the big names of contemporary comedy come out to play, along with the up-and-comers and the enthusiastic amateurs (no guarantee of talent here) – and they’re all out on the streets peddling their own shows.

On a stroll down the Royal Mile you can chat to dancers, musicians, actors, singers – quizzing them about their acts and, perhaps, meeting the A-listers of tomorrow. I even came across a chicken who would dish out puns on request.

I once wrote that, during The Fringe, Edinburgh’s population triples in number, and now I’ve realised that these people can be neatly divided in to three groups: People who are rushing – these could be going from venue to venue, or locals just trying to get on with regular life; people who are meandering and taking in the view – getting in the way of the former; and then the masses of flyer distributers, pouncing on The Mile and lurking around corners in wait of their target demographic.

Posters are plastered all over every stationary surface, stacks of discarded flyers litter every pub table, and every loo in the city is wallpapered with them too. To be honest, it’s all a little overwhelming. The festival features over 3,000 shows, spread over 299 venues, plus a whole load of street acts and events. Even if you were here for the full festival, from start to finish, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

So, everybody jostles for the crowd’s attention, with varying success. Needless to say, the chicken-pun man won me over almost instantly.

But they can’t all be winners. In just a few days I’ve seen some real shockers, some people who I’m pretty sure will be household names before too long, and a Canadian telling stories in a traditional Japanese style. I’m not sure which category that falls in to, but I kind of enjoyed it.

People bang on about the atmosphere and the bustle, and it is enticing – even addictive. But it is still possible to catch a few moments of peace outside of the city centre, around The Meadows or even in the Princes Gardens parks. Once performers have warred over you, and you’ve crammed as much entertainment in to a day as physically possible, there’s something more soothing than ever about sitting down with a cuppa.

In fact, I think I can almost see the sun coming out. Almost.

Image: Stephanie with Brit comic Carey Marx