Back in 2014 after I have been doing stand-up for over three years I felt I was ready to do my first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. (Spoilers: I wasn’t.)
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has become this huge event for all arts, but especially for stand up comedy. Big names come over with their shows doing sold-out dates to adoring crowds and five stars review’s or an act on the cusp get seen by talent agents and TV Scouts and then there people like me whose biggest hope is that perhaps one or even two people might come to their show.
To explain quickly, or slowly depending on your reading speed, as a comedian, there are two different levels of The Edinburgh Fringe:
The Free Fringe. Which can be put into two groups (Peter Buckley Hill Free Fringe & Laughing Horse.) These are the shows that are held in any possible venue in Edinburgh. From a pub staff room to the basement of an Italian Restaurant and the corner of a phone shop.
These shows run on a policy of free to enter and you’re asked to make a donation on the way out if you enjoyed the show or if the act blocks the exit and makes you feel guilty until you put some money into the collection bucket. (One time our bucket was stolen and the only thing I could do to collect the money was to put my hands out. It was basically begging.)
Paid venues. The next step is moving to some of the bigger rooms and charging a price for people to come see your show. Some artist’s go back to the Free Fringe due to the price of running a show at a paid venue.
That’s the basics of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival out of the way. Now here are Six things that you should do before you decide to go to Edinburgh and what I did.
1: Why are you doing this?
Sit back and think. Do I really want this? What is my show about? Is it worth the money I have to spend to do a show in Edinburgh?
What I did: “All my mates are going over with their own show, sure I might as well.“
2: Have your show written beforehand.
Even before you apply think about what your show’s about. Can you pull off a forty-five to sixty-minute show? What are your themes? Don’t just put together all the little bits you do in the club and stretch them out.
What I did: “I just put together all the little bits I do in clubs and stretch them out.”
You should check venues, which company you want to go with and what are the costs. Including the accommodation. Are you are going to put your show in the Official Edinburgh Fringe Book? If you do, it will cost 300 pounds and if you go with Laughing Horse it’s a requirement that you go into The Official Edinburgh Fringe Book.
What I did: “My mate going with P.B.H Free Fringe I go with them and I just stay in a hostel. Sure is grand.“
The title has to grab people and explain your show. If you can fit a joke in your title even better. Use your blurb to explain who you are and go a bit more into detail about yourself and the show.
What I did: I went with “The Making of” Jonathan Sheehan as a title. I was trying to think of something connected to films as it’s a big part of my set. I hoped it would give people a sense of my show and appeal to those that like movies.
5: Poster/Flyer Design.
Your show needs to stand out. A good design and look at your poster/flyers is very important.
Your flyers will have a 5-second impact (If you’re lucky) on the person before they throw them in the bin when they think you’re not looking. Same goes for your poster.
What I did: My poster was a parody of the “Lego Movie” poster which was popular at the time. This can be a risky thing to do. Doing a parody Poster/Title can backfire. The year everyone turned up with Fifty Shades of Grey Parody Poster/Title springs to mind.
6: You’re going need to do as many Preview as you can.
Preview anywhere and to any size crowd. Doing 40-50 minutes totally different experience from doing 20-25 minutes in clubs. You should be sick of your show and have as many bugs out of it before even going to Edinburgh with it.
What I did: One preview show two weeks before going over. In a basement of a bar. Were the staff kept coming in and the DJ was setting up his gear. Leading to regular moments of my punchlines being cut off by a David Guetta song. (Hey, this was 2014 he was pretty big then.)
These are things to think about doing before going over.
In part two I go over my mistakes when I arrived.
Don’t worry, there loads of them.
Here is a link to a recent set I did:
Some upcoming gigs:
January 22: The Stand Comedy Club. Edinburgh, Scotland.
January 29: The Stand Comedy Club. Edinburgh, Scotland
February 05: Laughing Horse Competition. Savoury Tap, London.
February 28: Angle Comedy. Bill Murray Pub. London.
March 02: Sunflower Pub. Belfast
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