Thursday, June 09, 2011

My laziness knows no bounds

I haven’t written a blog in ages. I am sorry, been upside down and round about. Last week Ashley and I were in London as the Groucho Club and my mate Monica got together and threw me a belated 50th Birthday party. Personally I hate birthday parties but this one was stunning, a few faces from my past and pals from my present turned up- I was so touched. Ashley even got gifts she got a Chopard watch and I got a fancy Louis Vittion Scarf, smashing Penhaligon candle, a stunning funny holy pepper mill and an awesome cupcake from Harvey Nichols. There were lots of other gifts, but my brain is dead and I felt like fraud as my birthday was back in January and this belated party was in June. Oh and the Groucho gave me the most amazing big chocolate cake! It was delish.

Staying in Soho is always exciting, I still giggle thinking about discussing babies and motherhood with the man who played James Bond; I get flushes recalling sitting beside Noel Gallagher and trying to be cool as ice, and meeting up with Sadie the Scottish homeless woman who always gives me the latest news and a pet at her dog Speedy! I love Soho.

Things have been good. The comedy world is heating up for the Edinburgh Fringe and as you all know I am not going this year, I just feel the fringe has lost something important and I don’t like it as much as I used to. It’s all about comedians off the TV and nothing to do with the spirit of performing. I am going to Vancouver in July and Soho theatre in August and have some projects lined up. I do hope all my pals going to fringe this year enjoy themselves as much as I used to. If you are going to fringe or have an interest I have compiled a top tips for people to check out, I have done over ten years and 14 shows at fringe.

Top tips for doing an Edinburgh Fringe show

Don’t for a minute assume anyone is going to come to the show unless you are on TV on a weekly basis, so get the best poster you can afford. Make firm EYE contact on poster, make sure the TITLE/YOUR NAME is easy to read and that the VENUE and TIME are not obscured, people won’t waste time looking for it.

Always get your flyering team to come see the show, so they can chat about it to audiences, they MUST be able to point in the direction of the venue or have street knowledge of how to get there on foot. If you don’t have a team make sure you know the lay of the land.

Get front of house staff in venue aware of your name and where you show is inside venue, so when people walk up they can give right information. There is nothing worse than staff saying “I don’t know that show or where it is”

Rent a flat and stay near to the venue as you will be in town all day either flyering and networking or out late, if you have to get a bus or taxi home every night you bump up the budget. Pay the extra cash to be close and expect to pay £3k for a decent 2 bedroom flat with wi/fi parking in Edinburgh.

Watch for other companies giving away free tickets to their otherwise paid show right outside the box office of your venue. That can sorely affect sales and can be dealt with verbally with venue manager if he they can’t solve it harass people who take free tickets by shouting “how shit is their show they have to give away free tickets?” you won’t make friends but the people who can’t sell tickets will move on with their shit free show and decide next year to do the awesome free fringe or free festival and stop standing outside paid venues with free tickets.

Check the Edfringe box office on the High street, flyer the crowd by talking to them but be mindful of other performers up there, again out shout free ticket papering shows, they only undermine the £3k you paid for the flat. Check that staff at Fringe box office in High street knows you, make sure when YOUR show has sold its allocation with Fringe Box office that THEY remind people tickets will/may be available at the venue. Tell the fringe queue this as well at intermittent times.

Check out the half price hut and use that mid week to get people into your show. You might feel cheap but trust me you will see big names up there on that hut and see big comics who pretend they didn’t know their producer did that!
Pay a flyering team decent cash and look after them; they are out there in the rain/wind/rain/sun/rain of Edinburgh telling people about your show. If you under pay them or piss them off they will throw your flyers in a bin and take your money anyway.

Always make up sandwiches and keep them in a bag in your bag AS eating out in Edinburgh is expensive. A sarnie can save you £10 a day in food!
Go see other shows, use this time to see everything you can and get onto every single chat show, variety show that you can.

Press is always going to be an issue, unless you are off the telly, so either pull a huge publicity stunt like killing a real dog near Grey Friars Bobby statue or just do a really good show that get reviewers talking.

Don’t get drunk and scream at TV producers about your show and how they put shit on TV, but always and I mean always watch other comics doing that, it’s the height of hilarity and worth even videoing on your iphone.

Ignore comics who can’t wait to tell you that their shows have sold out AGAIN! And about their latest TV pilot and how they had lunch with Kenton Allen or how JK Rowling comes to see their show every night, it’s all shit, concentrate on your show and do the best you can.

Don’t get worried about the comedy awards especially if you are female or Scottish, it won’t happen, and remember that the sponsors need people already on TV to make their award seem fashionable and a few ‘upbeat’ and ‘quirky’ people in funny ill fitting jumpers who have a niche following. If you don’t wear funny jumpers or have a haircut that looks like a special person with wooden spoons cut it or you are not middle class with facial hair, you are fucked. You won’t get an award.

Don’t be fooled by spending £3k on a PR person, the great odd thing about PR is there is NO GUARANTEE they can get you PR that’s in their contract. Use twitter and Facebook, it’s the way forward.

Always and always be nice to the press people in your venue, they work for shit all cash and the venue will charge you £800/1500 nominal fee to do nominal press work, if they like you they will help. Be nice to the venue ticket staff, they will recall your name and when asked to recommend and show, they will.

Be cool with the tech staff, they work for buttons and can flick a light if you fuck them off.

Draw moustaches and generally defile big giant posters of other comics, they have a sense of humour don’t they? Make sure you do the same to your own poster or you will get caught.

So there we have it, a wee sneaky peek at my ideas for the fringe, hope it helped.
By the way I know you all like a good book recommend, if you like comedy get Sit Down Comedy edited by John Fleming now available in Kindle just Google it and check it out.

So having done my duty as adviser to the fringe and done my book report for this week, I feel as if I have done my blog now and hope I haven’t disappointed everyone with blathering on.


Michael Starr said...

Thank you for taking the time to post this rather amusing guide and best of luck at Soho.

See you on Twitter ;)

Alison said...

I think everyone coming to the Fringe should be made to read this blog entry! It's excellent and nails everything you need to know on the head.

I would also like to add as a Fringe reviewer who receives 500+ press releases per Fringe that performers should use 'please' and 'thank you' in their emails.

If they can't be bothered to use basic manners, it immediately goes in the 'no' file.

We give an hour or two of OUR time to come and see their show and another couple of hours to contemplate and write the review, so manners are a must.