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Archive for August, 2012

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 14

Without wanting to predict too much what Edinburgh will throw at us, I had a feeling that last night’s show would be a quiet one after a lot of apathy while flyering.

Consequently, no-one I flyered yesterday actually came to the show. And at 11pm, when we were due to start, we had no audience.

Instead, we could do nothing but wait and thankfully, a few minutes later a few people filtered in who were in the pub anyway, as well as two Swedish girls who had been flyered the previous day. We had seven people, which equals our lowest audience but is still one or two people above the average Fringe attendance for a free show.

And they were an excellent audience as well; very friendly and audible in their laughter.  Paul had probably his second best gig of the run, and I am particularly pleased with this because he doesn’t tend to do well in front of small crowds. I had a good gig too.

We made just over a tenner in the bucket, which indicates that it was a good show, on the basis of £1 per person.

We may not have had masses of audience, but I am proud that so far we have managed to perform every day without pulling a show. But next week, I start my second show with Gwilum. The venue is slightly out of the way and I gather that it has been struggle for many other acts to get an audience in who are out there, but that is the challenge we have to deal with.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 13

Just when you talk about the weather being better this year, it pours down for several hours and you have no option but to flyer in it.

Perhaps people took sympathy on me standing on the Royal Mile getting soaked, but it was actually a productive couple of hours. I handed out most of my flyers and managed to talk to people about the show and get them to come along. We had 15 people again, which is fast becoming our average; and for our venue and timeslot, that is no mean feat.

They were friendly, I talked slower and did pretty well, although there were a few blank stares from certain quarters. Paul didn’t enjoy himself and is in danger of slowly morphing back into Bruce Banner after his stage rage of Tuesday. I do like him when he is angry and may have to resort to winding him up before he goes on to get the best out of him.

In our collection bucket at the end, we made £14 and a dice, which I think is a fair reflection of the show. It wasn’t as good as it can be.

We have now passed the midway point of the Fringe. This coincided with me and flatmate Deech enjoying our first night of freedom after finishing our actual paid work for the next couple of weeks. I was all set for a night of debauchery, but after having a pint after my show, I was hit by the tiredness wall and our rock n roll lifestyles led us back to our flat at 2am. Paul and Deech had a cup of tea, but I chose not to partake in such excess and opted for going to bed instead.

I am looking forward to seeing some shows and not having to do anything in the mornings. Unfortunately, my bank balance and liver are not sharing such feelings.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 12

We have been doing a good job of getting numbers in the high teens in the last few days and getting a respectable amount in the collection bucket after the show.

Last night, we had about 15 people in. We had to start the show about five minutes late as we tried to convince people in come in from the bar to add to our five people already seated. It worked and we reached double figures once more.

While for larger shows, getting an audience of such a size might well be considered disastrous, in our small room it feels a lot fuller and we are a non-profit making venture, which is just as well.

I am enjoying being off the radar this year. We are not in the brochure because we didn’t even know if we were going to be doing the Fringe until after the discounted listing deadline had passed. And we are slightly out of town. This suits me fine, as it means there is less chance of getting a reviewer in. If I can get through the rest of the Fringe without being reviewed then I will be most pleased.

They might give me a decent quote I could use, but then it’s more likely that they will be in on the one night I am awful and I don’t need that documenting. Well, other than on here.

If I can have some good gigs and the audience, more often than not, leave happy, then I will consider my 2012 Fringe to be a success.

I would describe last night’s gig as ‘not bad’. They were a friendly and smiley audience and both of us did respectably, but these instances are always annoying when you know you can do better. We made £25 in the bucket afterwards, which was a pretty good indicator that they enjoyed it. But as one of the crowd was leaving, he said to me: “you need to talk slower”. He was right and tonight I will talk slower.

In other news, I am now officially on holiday. No more working remotely, with lie-ins and likely hangovers taking its place.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 11

We are now almost right at the midway point of the Fringe. And so far, it has been relatively painless.

Although there have been lows, it doesn’t feel anywhere near like the ordeal that was last year, but there is still plenty of time left for that.

I think the reason it has been a much more pleasant experience is that out venue is much nicer than last year, with bar staff who actually know us by name and will give us the time of day.

We have probably been working harder to get our audience in than we did last year due to our location; we flyer for at least two hours every day and make an extra effort to talk to people about our show to get them to come along.

We are also fortunate to not be in Stag and Hen Do central again. And although our venue is a bit of a walk from the centre of town, combined with the 11pm timeslot, it means that people who do make the effort to specifically come and see our show actually want to be there the majority of the time. Instead of what we had last year, where a large percentage of the crowds we had would have been there regardless of what show was on.

And this year, me and Paul regularly have a pint in the pub after the show, instead of doing what we did in 2011 and escaping the venue as quickly as possible when we’d finished.

I will talk more about the Fringe attendance another time when I am struggling for things to write.

Instead, I will talk about last night’s show. On what is traditionally the midway Monday day-off for a number of shows, we decided to keep going. For our efforts, we were rewarded with what I think is probably our second biggest audience yet with 18 people. They were a friendly bunch, and although both Paul and myself had decent gigs, we weren’t quite as good as the previous night.

We made £25 in our collection bucket at the end. When you break it down for the hours of work we have put into it, it works out well below the minimum wage. But the Fringe operates in a different world. And as long as I have enough money for a pint and something to eat, then that suits me just fine.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 10

Moving on from the disappointment of Saturday night’s show, we were expecting a quiet Sunday night gig with potential audience staying away to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics.

How wrong we were. Every time I try and predict what Edinburgh will throw at us next, I am proved wrong. Unless I predict that I will drop a stack of my flyers when handing them out on the Royal Mile, which is fast becoming an annoying habit.

We had our best show of the run so far. We managed to get 15 people in and there were some big laughers in amongst them.

Not only that, the show saw a welcome return to form for Mr Langton. After much pestering from me, he dropped the waffle and started shouting at people instead.  It’s what he does best and he was rewarded with many laughs.

Although bizarrely, despite having known each other for nearly three years and gigged together what must be a hundred or so times, he mistakenly introduced me as Alex Cox. Neither of us know why this was.

There were two ladies from Newcastle sitting near the front, who proved a lot of fun and kept chipping in with things we could riff off.

Proof of the successful gig was found in the collection bucket at the end. We made £28, which is not bad going at all.

In other news, as I have been working remotely for the first half of the Fringe, I have been feeling somewhat detached from what is going on in the city around me. But this is no bad thing, as the Fringe can be a bit overwhelming if you get caught up in it for prolonged periods of time. Still, I have two more days of work left before I am officially on holiday and that is when the fun and overwhelming should properly begin.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 9

Lows are an inevitability of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and last night’s show was certainly the low point so far.

Neither of us did particularly well and the laughs were in the arguably in the single digits for both our sets. I say ‘arguably’, because there was a big party going on in the main area of the pub, which meant there was a lot of external noise so we were again unable to hear the titters, if there were any.

We had to delay the start of the show by about five minutes, because we only had a handful of people in as audience. But as the bar was busy, there were five or six people wanting to see the show who were waiting to be served.

While we were waiting, two lads came in and boosted our audience to seven. About 30 seconds later, they were thrown out by the bar staff after looking underage and failing to produce any ID.

For the first week, I had been going on first with Paul on second. This had worked out pretty well. But last night, we switched the order and it wasn’t very successful.

When I went on at the start and introduced the concept of the show before bringing on Paul, some of the things I said got laughs, which weren’t even jokes. I thought this was a good indicator that it would be a good show, but I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. It just never really kicked into gear.

We ended up with around 15 people, with two walking in during the second half of the show when I was on, who walked out about five minutes later and were joined by three of others. Thankfully, after the brutality of the walk outs in droves at last year’s show, I have developed a resilience to it. In the seven shows previously, we only had one walk out.

Another thing I found out in my previous gigs at the Fringe, is that you can be performing in the same venue at the same time every day, with the same material and energy; but for whatever reason, some days people laugh and other days they don’t.

Confirmation of our audience’s enjoyment was received in the bucket collection at the end. From 12 people, we made just over £8 and €2. In such instances, you can only laugh. Then pick yourself up and do it all again, determined that the next day will be better.

The blow was softened by some free cake and sandwiches, which were left over from the party.

We are expecting a quiet gig tonight, with it being the closing ceremony of the Olympics. But you never can really predict what will happen at the Fringe.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 8

We had our largest audience of the Fringe so far last night, with 29 people. I was delighted.

It was a good show, but felt I had to work hard for my laughs. This is partly because it was a Friday night and there was a fair amount of noise coming in from the main pub, so I felt I had to compete with that to be heard. Because of the noise, it was difficult to hear the audience tittering and I could only hear the belly laughs. So for the first part of my set, I could see some of the dreaded blank stares; I didn’t think it was going particularly well and I was in for a battle.

So I upped my game, by this I mean I got more shouty and it seemed to pay off. After some audience interaction, several belly laughs followed and I hit my stride.

Because we weren’t telling people where to sit, we had quite an odd shaped audience formation. The seats to the right of the stage area were full, as was the back row. But somewhere in the middle, there were empty seats and there was a solitary man sitting on his own in the front row who was with the people on the pew things along the side of the room. I am aware that if you are unfamiliar with the layout of our room, then this will make little sense to you. In which case, you should come to our show to see it for yourself.

Paul had a decent set and we made just over £40 in the bucket. We also had some really positive feedback from audience members, who genuinely enjoyed the show and came out of their way to say so.

In my experience, if an audience member hasn’t enjoyed themselves then they won’t do this, with their behaviour dependent on how badly you have done. If you haven’t done very well, they’ll smile slightly at you and say ‘well done’ or the kiss of death: ‘you must be very brave’. But if you have properly died on your arse, they will avoid making eye contact with you and try to leave the venue as quickly as possible to get away from the stench of a bad gig. Neither of these behaviours have happened in Edinburgh, although there is still two weeks to go.

We are about one week into our show and we have had some really good gigs. But I know we can do better still and we have yet to hit top form.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 6 and 7

Regular reader(s) will have noticed that I have missed a day out of my Edinburgh blog.

Worry not, I am safe and well, at least for the moment. This temporary lapse is because I am working remotely from 9am-5-30pm and only have a small window between finishing work and going out to flyer my show. And yesterday, I had to get the flyers designed for the other show I am doing in the final week of the Fringe.

Although my lack of writing about our show on Wednesday may subconsciously be because we made a measly £4.36 in the bucket and then had improv duo forced upon us, who were performing at the music open mic night that takes place in the our venue in the main bar when our show has finished.

Wednesday’s show wasn’t a bad one, the seven people who did come to watch laughed, they just weren’t feeling particularly generous with their finances. Of the seven people, we knew three. So our three hours of flyering only attracted four people. Including in the audience members we did know was Moz, who had been drinking for a few hours and was only in town for two nights. After we left the pub, we went our separate ways with Moz and no-one actually knows what happened to him as he was nowhere to be seen or heard from the next day. I should worry, but he’s probably still fast asleep on a doorstep.

At Thursday’s show, we reached the dizzy heights of double figures of audience and had ten. Me and Paul had to work for our laughs, particularly with four young-ish looking girls who were staring blankly at me for large proportions of my time on the mic.

Although one audience member sat at the back of the room was enjoying the show considerably more than everyone else. He was laughing heartily throughout my set and immediately after I’d finished he shook my hand and said: “That was f*cking hilarious. I loved that. I’m not even drunk, I’ve only had a couple of pints.” He then kissed my hand.

It’s nice to feel appreciated.

After the show, he described it as: “One of the best comedy shows I’ve ever seen.” High praise indeed. He also asked if he could take one of our posters home, so we gave him a souvenir.

When you flyer for three hours, just to get a handful of people into the show, you do appreciate things like this all the more. I can only hope that by the end of the Fringe we have several more audience members who are as enthusiastic about the show. If this occurrence starts to become a regular thing, then I will be very happy.

But it would seem that his enthusiasm wasn’t entirely isolated; because from ten people, we made £16 in our collection bucket at the end.

And now I am heading off to do some more flyering. As it is Friday night, I am looking forward to an alcohol induced lie-in tomorrow.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 5

On what was predicted to be another quiet day, we managed to equal our biggest audience of the Fringe with 13 people.

I am not foolish enough to think that we have it easy from now on, there is a very long way to go and much more hard work to be done with inevitable lows ahead. But it is nice to be four shows in and have had a decent audience at every one so far.

They were more a smiley audience last night than a loud laughing one, but laughs were audible with some big ones occurring throughout the hour.

One thing of note is that there was a man sitting right at the front who appeared to be dozing off throughout the show. At least, I think he was dozing and not just really not enjoying himself. He did open his eyes a few times and I did at least get a couple of laughs out of him. My thick comedic skin has been forged in the harsh fires of small gigs in London and I think that my record number of audience members asleep is five. However, in this particular record breaking instance, they had mostly fallen asleep while watching a film in a pub on a Saturday night in Walthamstow and had a comedy gig sprang on them unsuspectingly. As you can imagine, it was a resounding success.

Anyway, back to last night, we made £20 in our bucket at the end, exceeding the ratio of a good free gig in Edinburgh being £1 per person.

This afternoon, I went to sit in on the audience for Richard Herring’s Edinburgh podcast, which had another of my heroes as a guest: the wrestler Mick Foley. It was a bizarre collision of two of my favourite ever things: half of Lee and Herring and Mick Foley. It was a very funny show and I’m glad I went. Mick is town to do a show for a few days, but I will not be able to go as it clashes with my own, so attending this was a compromise.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Day 4

To paraphrase Cilla Black circa 1994: the Fringe is full, full of surprises.

I should add that I don’t want to encourage Cilla Black to sing. But she has a point in this paraphrased line nonetheless. At last night’s show, after torrential rain for much of the day and on what is traditionally the quietest day of the Edinburgh week, we had our largest audience so far.

We had a whopping 13 in, which I am genuinely delighted by. It shows that the two and a half hours of flyering I did, where everything I had on me was drenched, wasn’t for nothing and proves that if you promote it well enough, they will come.

As I am working remotely for the first half of the Fringe, it means that I am slightly limited to the amount of flyering time I can do. Thankfully, Paul ‘Unemployed’ Langton has no such commitments and has been out like a trooper for the comedy cause. But I think we may have found a sufficient level of time required for getting people to come along.

During my drenching, a girl I tried to give one of my flyers to refused to take it. Seconds later, she slipped in the monsoon conditions and fell on her arse while walking down a slope. I initially thought that was her punishment for not accepting my flyer. My smugness was short-lived, when I dropped my handful of flyers into the small stream that had formed on the pavement.

Back to the gig, it was nice to have a fuller room. And they were a good audience, with big laughs to be had; but at the same time, they didn’t just give them away and you had to work for them. Both myself and Paul had decent gigs, we made £23 in our collection bucket. But we know we can do better still with our sets, which is a good position to be in after the third day of our show.