The problem with the Edinburgh Fringe is you have to take the show you’ve imagined since January out of your mind and place it in front of the harsh realities of an actual audience or the harsher reality of no audience. The show in your head can shatter when taken out of it.
It is six days to go, so the nausea begins.
In the past, I was unable to eat solid food for the first twelve days of the fringe, relying on thin soup or Coco Pops or thin soup with Coco Pops as croutons.
This is my first Edinburgh fringe run for three years.
I am doing two shows and both have barely been previewed.
It’s only since this century began that comedians started to spend the majority of their life previewing, followed by three weeks of presenting something that is intended to be complete. Then, they go back into another 11 month state of preview from October in the hope that you’d get it right next August.
Expectation striking reality will be what cracks open the heads of many of the comics.
By the end of the first week, the liver damaged, morale extinguished turn walks heavily.
Low numbers and barely audible reactions are not what was seen in the dreamscape.
That £3000 spent on PR was meant to mean you were drinking Riesling with the TV executive and every time you walked into a room you’d hear “that one, that’s the one they think is a cert for the Edinburgh award.” Your flat smells of vinegar and verruca skin, the taps leak and everyone you meet tells you about their four star reviews and sell out shows. They all smell of high quality Riesling.
You are the only failure.
That is how it can feel.
It shouldn’t, but it does.
Edinburgh can bring out the worst in comedians.
There’s so much riding on it…or is there. The main thing riding on it is will you create a show you are happy with or experience a month where you think, “bloody hell, I learnt loads from this.”
Everything else needs to be thought of as an extra treat. You might get some telly out of it if that’s what you are after. You might be invited to a festival in another country. A Radio producer might want to make a series based on your show. You might build up just a little more of an audience and that increases the chances that you can keep standing in rooms being appreciatively looked at as you take things out of your head.
Oddly, my most dismal Edinburgh Fringe led to lots of interesting work and was the reason I started a show called The Book Club which led to me putting on science variety shows that led to me doing the Infinite Monkey Cage. What seems to be an immediate failure may not be a perpetual failure.
The 26 days of the Fringe festival can seem horribly long, an inescapable time trap forged by an evil anti particle Einstein.
The one thing you can try to be is “not a dick”.
If you bump into another comedian, don’t immediately tell them how great your show is and all the wonderful reviews, they might not be having such a good time. In fact, don’t perpetually bang on about your show, some life still remains beyond it and around it.
Plugging other people’s shows doesn’t mean you risk losing an audience member. And if you have had a good show, why not plug someone else’s show near the end of yours. Michael Legge’s #sellthisshowout or #letssellitout or whatever hashtag the old man uses , a daily Twitter idea is lovely. Each day, a show is chosen and a social media push is made to try and get as many people there as possible. Sadly, in previous years, some of the shows chosen never bothered to join in on any other day apart form theirs.
Also, if there are not many people in your audience, don’t keep complaining about it, they are the ones that turned up. Then go into the streets and complain into the face of any of the millions that didn’t turn up.
Don’t use Coco Pops as croutons.
Also, don’t keep writing blog posts about doing Edinburgh when you should really be writing your show.
Things I’d recommend – Hannah Gadsby, Tom Ballard, Gavin Webster , Michael Legge, Eleanor Morton, Urzila Carlson, Comedy 4 Kids, Setlist, John Luke Roberts, The Dark Room for Kids, Funny Stuff for Happy People, Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, Lucy Porter, Barry Crimmins, Bec Hill, Topsy Turvy Hotel (with the brilliant Jo Neary) , Catriona Knox, Chris Coltrane, Gráinne Maguire, George Egg, Stuart Black, Joe Wells, Katy Brand…and all that theatre and dance too
Oh and me, twice a day for the first 12 days