What a fantastic opening weekend. Hibs got an extra-time equaliser against Hearts, my venue was packed out, the audiences laughed and, most importantly, the air conditioning was working.
The week before the Fringe started, I read several articles predicting that ticket sales would be down by as much as 30%. I haven’t seen any sign of that yet. In fact I think MORE people are coming out to make up for the last two years of lockdown.
The Royal Mile was rammed over the weekend. I took a walk through the crowds to soak up some of the atmosphere. Outside the Tron Kirk I saw a street performer juggling with a chainsaw. I must have watched him for 10 minutes but no joy, he didn’t cut his own arm off. What a waste of 10 minutes.
This goes one of either two ways. You’ll either find out your show is only 40 to 45 minutes long. Or you’ll find that your show is over running and you have to cut some pieces out of it. I was in the latter category. I overran by 10 minutes so had to decide which bits I was going to drop. To a comedian dropping jokes is like killing your babies. Ironically I decided to drop my abortion routine. (Oh fcuk off, you’re not paying for this.)
I know a man who used to work with Led Zeppelin. That got your attention, didn’t it? He told me how Led Zeppelin would psychologically control the audience before the show started and get them in the right frame of mind. Led Zep had a pre-show playlist of music for the audience where each song got a slightly faster than the previous one. And each song was turned up slightly louder. The audience didn’t realise their heart-rates were being raised to match the increasing speed of the music and they were talking louder to be heard over the louder music. They were being loosen up and hyped up at the same time. By the time Jimmy Page & Robert Plant hit the stage the audience were at fever pitch without knowing why.
I don’t know if that’s absolutely true but psychologically it does make sense to me, so I do that with my pre-show music. Doors open 20 minutes before the show. For 20 minutes the music gets faster and louder. By the time I get on stage I know the audience are in a better frame of mind than they were when they came in. Or maybe it’s the drink? Either way, my extended drum solo usually gets a standing ovation.
I’m not convinced. I was told the return on leaflets was only 3%. Give out 100 flyers, you’ll get three people. Give out 500 flyers, you’ll get fifteen people.
I know some people target an area around their venue 20 minutes before a show but I’ve never worked out the economics of how much the flyerers are being paid to get those extra people in.
What can you do? I was thinking of splitting a leaflet. My show on one side, someone else from the same venue on the other side. A sort of cross advertising scheme. At the end of the day it might save a couple of trees.
I’ve heard countless stories of flyers getting lost in transit or turning up several days (shows!) late. Simple solution: Get them printed in Edinburgh.
You want a recommendation? Skyline Printing, 35 Tower Street, Leith. It was a two day turnaround and you can walk in and collect them. No postage costs, no fucking about, and there’s a good bar just round the corner.
I read the Coca-Cola advertising department (the most instantly recognisable corporate image in the world) had worked out that the average person has to see an image 19 times before it registers on the consciousness.
You walk by an advert for Coca-Cola 19 times and on the 20th time you might decide to buy a Coke. I suppose that makes sense because there’s only a handful of other soft drinks they’re in competition with. But during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival there’s several thousand performers all competing for attention. I walk by wall after wall full of posters. None of them register with me. They become white noise in the background.
Put it like this if you walked by 100 trees and each one of them had a poster for a lost cat you would soon forget which cat you were meant to be looking for. Soon you’d stop looking all together. Which is probably for the best because I think all those cats got together and just fucked off somewhere warmer.
COMEDIAN 1: My show was sold out tonight. How about you?
COMEDIAN 2: Not quite. Maybe three quarters. How big is your venue?
COMEDIAN 1: It holds 40. You?
COMEDIAN 2: I’m in the big room. Holds 180. I sold 150 tickets.
COMEDIAN 1: That’s a shame…but the important thing is I SOLD OUT! And you didn’t!!
SOLD OUT SHOWS
Let’s say your venue has 100 seats. Actually, let’s do this properly. Let’s give your venue a name. The Edinburgh Chuckle Hut. You’re doing a show every day at the Edinburgh Chuckle Hut. Haha, you complete loser. Do you have no self-respect?
So… The Edinburgh Chuckle Hut gives a proportion of your tickets to the official Edinburgh fringe box office. When the box office have sold out of their allotted tickets a sign comes up their website that “No ticket allocation remaining. We currently have no remaining ticket allocation for this performance. More tickets may become available in the future or be available directly from the venue” … most people, performers and audience alike, read that and think the show is sold out.
NO! IT’S NOT!
That only means the official Edinburgh Fringe box office have no more tickets.
If the Edinburgh Chuckle Hut only gave the official Edinburgh fringe box office 50 tickets, there’s still another 50 tickets available at the Edinburgh Chuckle Hut. (I still can’t get over the fact you would play such a ridiculously named venue).
You can turn up to your supposedly sold out venue and find out it’s half empty. Or half full depending on how you look at it. Either way you’re not sold out.
I would recommend: Release as many tickets as you can (at least 75%) to the official box office. Because that is where most people buy the tickets.
It gets more complicated when each venue has its own special offers. A prime example was the opening day of the fringe. A friend of mine paid £10 to go and see a play. It turned out if they had gone to the venues box office they could’ve got that same ticket for £5. The venue had a special deal on. That’s too complicated for me. If you want to see five shows in five different venues it means you’d have to check five individual websites and box offices to find the best price available. The Fringe is a complicated minefield at the best of times. That throws a couple of hand Granadas and a machine gun nest into the equation.
HALF PRICE HUT
Full of shows with 50% less laughs. Sorry but it’s true.
APOLOGISE FOR A JOKE?
Never. I don’t know one single comedian who deliberately sets out to upset people. I don’t know one single comedian who deliberately writes a joke to intentionally upset people. Just doesn’t happen.
Yes – there are certain trigger words that can set people off (cancer, cot death, paedophilia, the list goes on and on.) Some football supporters get upset if you do a joke that mentions their team. Tell me, what’s worse: cancer or your football team?
There are jokes that I have heard that I would never dream of telling. But that’s just me. Bottom line: I’m sorry but I won’t apologise
Never assume your technical staff are going to get it right. You would imagine it’s only switching on the stage lights and turning on the microphone — but it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. They have to switch on the stage lights AND turn on the microphone.
Jo Caulfield: Here Comes Trouble is at The Stand Comedy Club daily from 4th August at 8.20pm