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Out of time

There are now no more previews. The next time I perform both of my shows will be in Edinburgh and the Fringe will have started.

I was meant to have a third and final preview for Pub Quiz on Friday night, but there was no audience.

The weekend before, I was in Beverley in East Yorkshire previewing both of my shows. And I’m pleased to report that I had a much bigger audience in for Stop the Press than this past Friday night, a 500% larger crowd. This is putting a positive spin on saying that I had five people in.

Performing in front of five people is certainly useful practice for Edinburgh, as I’m fully aware that this is something I could be faced with this Fringe for my new show. I’ve been spoilt for the past four years with Pub Quiz and am fully aware that there may be days when I don’t get any audience for my new show that doesn’t have such a strong a gimmick, let alone the double gimmick this year of the 90s.

Nevertheless, the exciting thing is that I genuinely don’t know how Stop the Press is going to go. As it’s on the Free Fringe, I don’t have any sales figures. It’s going to depend entirely on whoever shows up on the day. It’s going to add a more unpredictability to things. I’ve spent seven months writing it and am pleased with where it’s going, but it isn’t quite there yet. I’m looking forward to have the show properly honed during the run.

Meanwhile, for what turned out to be the final How To Win A Pub Quiz preview in Beverley, I had about 20 in later on. They were good fun and it was useful to try out some new bits. The material is coming together, but I could do with a few more previews to get it properly ready.

For the first preview in Oxford, I decided to drop the sketch that’s become a cornerstone of the show. It didn’t feel quite the same without it. In Beverley, I brought in a new one that sort of worked, but felt too much like a retread of the previous scene that works so well. I’ve since scrapped it and written an entirely new scene, which will be performed untested at the Fringe. I have the advantage that I have a pretty good idea of what will work for the show, so it’s not quite as big a risk as you might think.

I’m also still trying to decide on what the final track should be in the music round. Last year, I thought it would be hilarious to have the final song being Paul from S Club 7’s metal band. Audiences didn’t find it quite so amusing, so I scrapped it after the first couple of shows.

The other thing to add is about my sales figures for How To Win A Pub Quiz. I have sold more than 100 tickets than I had last year and I’m in a 50 seater instead of a 60 seater. As things stand, I’ve sold round 70% of my tickets before the show has even started. This is pretty astonishing. But it just goes to show that if you want to get an audience, get a good gimmick. If you want to sell even better, get two.

When I write next, I will have arrived in Edinburgh and the 2018 Fringe will be underway. I don’t know how the next month will unfold, but I am looking forward to it whatever it may bring.

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