The Best Things in Life are Free!
It’s Friday and we have now entered the final weekend of the Fringe.
As you are all no doubt aware, I am doing my show at The Beehive Inn on The Grassmarket and it’s been a good year, audiences have been good and the weather has been great for flyering on the street.
The Beehive Inn hosts the Scottish Comedy Festival which is now a big part of the Free Fringe every year in Edinburgh. It’s completely crazy to think that Performers in Edinburgh can actually make a living from the doing a show on the Free Fringe as opposed to going home with very little or sometimes in debt from doing shows in the prescribed fashion.
How does this work? Well when a show is free it means that it’s free to go into the show but you have to pay to get out!
At the end of the show the performer produces a bucket for this purpose and you are expected to put in a few pounds, a fiver being the usual amount. Some very generous souls have been known to put in a tenner, on the flipside however, you get some tight wads who only put in a few pence.
The real villains though are the fuckers who get up and leave just before the show finishes!
They sit there looking at their watches and when the clock strikes five minutes to, they rise from their seats and make for the exit with heads bowed, as they know fine well they are doing something shameful and horrible!
Anyway, from chatting to other performers at The Fringe it’s clear, the majority of those doing “Free” shows are very happy with the way things are going whilst the ones doing ticketed shows are not so happy and it’s because of this that the Free Fringe has expanded every year for the past five years and it looks likely, this trend is set to continue.
Doing multiple shows in one night
In the comedy business we call this “doubling up” or “doing a double”!
Tonight I doubled up, I did my show at The Beehive Inn as usual and then had to drive at breakneck speed to perform at the regular, monthly, stand-up comedy night at The Regal Community Theatre in Bathgate!
When you double up its great financially but not artistically as I can’t remember anything.
Because I don’t do solidly scripted sets I can get a bit confused on stage and will often think about a routine and I’m not sure if I did it in the last gig or this one.
And that’s a big fear! Imagine an audience sitting, watching you do your thing and you tell the same joke twice! What a disaster for a comedian.
The audience would think you’re senile or something, thankfully, I am pretty sure this has never happened to me but it still doesn’t stop me being paranoid about it sometimes.
A few years ago I was out and about in London with my very good friend and brilliant comedian Paul Pirie. We were having some drinks during the day whilst pub crawling around Soho and in between pubs we would go into one or two of the many excellent sex shops, purely for anthropological research purposes.
As we were in one particular erotic emporium we were having a look around and Paul’s mobile phone rang.
Paul answered the call and as he did so he attracted the attention of two twenty-something young American ladies who were standing nearby.
The call was from his wife Kate, who is also his booking agent! Paul listened and said “Sure, no problem, I can do that!” then terminated the call.
He turned to me in the middle of the sex shop, surrounded by a plethora of the most preverted merchandise imaginable and with the two American girls listening in, said; “That was Kate she needs me to double up tonight with Noel and its being filmed!”
The look on the two young ladies faces was a picture!