Countdown to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Some Back Story
I have always had a bit of a love hate relationship with The Fringe, insofar as I loved it at first, then I progressively, year on year, started to hate it and then, since 2012 fell madly in love with it again.
The reason, FREE SHOW!
Well when we say Free at the Fringe we mean it’s free to get in but you have to pay to get out!
With a FREE SHOW, I now, miraculously seem to be able to make as much from the Fringe as I do from doing the UK comedy circuit the rest of the year, instead of the historical model where you went to Edinburgh, did your show every night to a decent sized audience and then ended up in debt!
Added to this you probably also got a bad review and so, on top of being skint, some journalist tells the world you’re a useless fanny to boot!
In the old days a bad review was tomorrow’s fish and chip paper but in the internet age you’re a useless fanny for life!
These days, this useless fanny prefers to get paid! (Occasionally)?
Meanwhile – Sometime earlier in the Year
2015 has been an interesting year. More than usual it has been up and it has been down, but two big things happened that made me question myself.
First of all, I went to The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and was handed my arse and then my BBC Radio Scotland series “Planet Mearns” got cancelled!
Melbourne was a dream opportunity.
I was given my own space in a One Hundred Seater Venue, Free Accommodation and some additional shows to sustain me with the odd 50 dollars here and there. If it was anything like my recent Edinburgh Experiences, then everything should have been sweet, except for one thing!
The venue was in the arse end of nowhere.
It was called “The Red Violin”. It was previously located on Bourke Street, which is one of the main shopping streets running from the centre of Melbourne into China Town with plenty of footfall on the street, however, in early 2015, the owners decided to re-locate to a lane that nobody had ever heard of and with nothing else in it!
I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right when, on the very first day, I asked two delivery drivers and a Cop directions to McKillop Street and none of them had a fuckin Scooby doo!
Added to this the venue owners and the producers of my show, between them, neglected to tell Google maps about the change of address, they also forgot to tell the festival organizers, who printed the programme, about the new address as well as the box office, and festival information office who made up the map showing the venue locations!
Melbourne Tourist information didn’t know either!
My biggest audience was 11 and this was achieved at the end of the first week after flyering for four hours every day outside the Town Hall!
By the end of the second week I had lost £2500 so I accepted defeat and bought myself out of the remaining two weeks of my contract.
When I got home, I was told that BBC Radio Scotland had cancelled Planet Mearns!
I had previously understood, from my production company, that we had a commitment to make four episodes after completing a pilot in January 2014 and a Christmas Special that was broadcast at 5pm on Christmas Day 2014!
I felt that I had failed in some way, I started to think “I am not talented enough or funny enough or I don’t work hard enough, what a useless fanny!”
I had become that bad parent! I listened to that inner voice and for a while I really questioned my appetite to carry on in comedy and asked if I was really cut out for this business?
And as difficult as this was for me, I take it as a sign of some personal growth or something because for reasons unknown I simply accepted the facts of the situation and thought; Fuck It!
Let’s go back to the Fringe!
Dateline – Monday 3rd August 2015 – 1 day to the first preview show in Edinburgh
Now there are people in this business we call show who have lots of people who do everything for them; agents, managers, publicists and masseurs, et al, but me, I only have my inner demons!
I am always really excited about the fringe, but also fearful that; nobody will come to my shows, or the weather will be rubbish, or roadworks at Livingston! You know, all of these things that can turn a bad Fringe into a terrible Fringe!
I don’t have a manager, my agent is an actor’s agent and whilst massaging myself, one fine day, I decided that I needed some publicity.
Previously, on the 23rd July, I changed my facebook cover photo to a photo of my Fringe 2015 Flyer
All I had to do now, was augment this awesome piece of marketing!
So at 3.27pm on August 3rd I posted the details of the show on my Facebook timeline!
The Publicity was out there. The word was on the street, I had told the half dozen or so weirdo’s who are obsessed with me all about it!
Dateline – Monday 4th August 2015 – Day of the first Preview Show at The Beehive
As you can no doubt deduce, from the previous paragraph, my preparation is thorough!
I am incredibly anxious about how I look when I perform at the fringe in the first week, so the first thing I do is buy some new shirts.
Being a bit of a fat bastard, I often have that thing where I take a shirt out of the wardrobe that I haven’t worn for a while (maybe a week) and find that I am bursting out of it. So, a few massive shirts are required to reduce the appearance of bulk on stage.
Six shirts in total, two from Marks and Spencer and four from Tesco, I was going to go to Primark, but Tesco were giving them away!
Next Up, I had to make sure I had all of the equipment, necessary for the execution of a successful run at the Fringe
As well as six new shirts I needed
1 x Waterproof Ruck Sack
1 x Pair Waterproof Training Shoes
1 x Kagoule (that bamboozled the spell checker)
(It rains like fuck in Edinburgh in the summertime)
1 x home-made BLT sandwich on toasted Brown Bread with mozzarella
1 x Bag of Chilli Heatwave Doritos
2 x Bananas
(I get hungry and can make a better sandwich than Subway when I put my mind to it)
5 x Clean T-Shirts
1 x Pair of Clean Underpants
(It might be pissing it down, but it’s muggy, you sweat like a pound of semtex in that wee room at the top of The Beehive)
24 x bottles of mineral water
1 x Cheap compact Disc Player
(some dirty fucker stole my son’s ipod during the run in 2012)
30 x C type batteries for The CD player
(I bought it in a target store in Melboure and don’t have an Aussie to UK, adaptor for the plug)
1 x Vanilla coloured Plastic Bucket
If you do a free show you need a bucket!
I have used that same vanilla coloured plastic bucket since 2012.
That bucket and me are inseparable!
I bought it on the very first day of the very first preview of my very first FREE SHOW “Rock N Roll Comedian – The Therapy Sessions” back in late July 2012 and it was the best £1.99 I have ever spent.
The price tag is still on the bucket! I got it from “Baillieston Hardware, Main Street, Baillieston Glasgow and I have never looked back! If you are ever in the market for a bucket then get along to Baillieston Hardware!
I have checked and this google listing is correct!
When you go to get your bucket, tell them I sent you and they’ll probably give you the same look I saw when I asked for directions to McKillop street in Melbourne, but at least you will be in the right place, happy bucket hunting!
By 3pm on Tuesday 4th August all kit was assembled and correct
I was now ready to set out for Edinburgh
My plan this year is to drive along The M8 from Glasgow to Edinburgh and use the Park and Ride Facilities at Ingliston, near the airport, and from there get the Tram into the city.
I love the trams they are only £3.50 return and I don’t have to worry about parking charges in the city, which, by the way are horrendous!
I addition, driving in Edinburgh is a nightmare, especially at Fringe time as every fuckwit and his brother are riding around on tandems dressed as clowns blowing on a Kazoo!
The great thing about the Trams in Edinburgh is that none of the locals ever seem to use them!
I have a theory that; this is because, they waited so long for them to be completed and moaned that fucking much about them, then to actually use them would seem like a betrayal.
So do yourself a favour. Use the trams, they’re always empty, so empty in fact that, on more than a few occasions, I have been able to sit right up at the front and pretend I am the driver.
Thirty minutes after leaving my street in the East End of Glasgow (don’t judge me, I went to Uni) I arrived at the park and ride in Ingliston.
I bought an all-day ticket (allowing me to use both bus and tram) for £4.00.
Now I would not normally do this I would simply pay £3.50 for the tram return but looking back I knew the universe was looking after me, because when I got to the tram stop all services were “TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED”. One Tram had broken down and the entire network was Gubbed!
It was chaos!
I had to get a number 35 Bus!
It was mobbed! There were already dozens of people with suitcases on the bus who, had come from the Airport and who would otherwise have gotten the tram and the driver wasn’t happy.
I got on the bus and the driver said “Fuckin Trams! Look at all these cunts with their cases, best of luck trying to find a seat son!”
I only had designs on one of two seats, the front two on the top deck, I’m going to drive the bus (make a nice wee change), but there were “cunts up there, with cases” as well!
I eventually got into Edinburgh City Centre and arrived at The Beehive Inn at 5pm (45 minutes behind schedule)
The key to the success of my shows in Edinburgh is that I do my own flyering.
These days’ people don’t expect to see acts handing out flyers for their own shows let alone be actually stopped and engaged in conversation by the act about the show.
This is what I do and it works!
I can make people laugh, and if you can make them laugh on the street in front of the venue then they are fairly certain you can make them laugh inside as part of the audience
If they don’t come along that night, I often find that they turn up a day or two later!
And turn up tonight they did!
I got a very nice audience tonight for my preview show and made a couple of quid at the end as well.
The show itself is mostly there but will take another two days to really bed in, as it’s an amalgam of material I have been doing on the UK circuit for the past 12 months, it just has to be a wee bit more connected.
Hope to see you all down at The Beehive Inn
In the meantime I will continue to update you on my adventures at The Fringe