Edinburgh 2014 (Ongoing) Diary

Deja Vu
12:15 - 13:15
1st - 25th August 2014
Suruchi - (map streetview)

So the road train to Edinburgh is on. 
 
I’ll be doing the full run and blogging everything and anything do to with it.
 
This post will serve as a hub for everything I write about the Fringe 2014.
 
I have plans to do a video diary when I am up there, but at the moment that needs ironing out. 
 
I’ll attempt to make every effort to keep these blogs short, sweet and in a good, easy-to-read / navigate format.
 
 
March -
 
 
  • Costs
  • Fringe Applications {coming soon}
  • Marketing {coming soon}

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Costs

You can find the hub of information around Edinburgh 2014 here.
 
 
Doing any festival isn’t cheap and The Edinburgh Fringe is not exception. 
 
 
Below are my (ongoing) costs for doing a free show in 2014.
 
 
Please note, I am doing a free show with Freestival for the full run. As a result these numbers will vary massively if you’re reading this in the future or if you’re only doing a week or something else that means you’re not me and doing the exact show I am doing.
 
 
This is just a guide for anyone thinking about doing the Edinburgh Fringe on what you could expect to pay.
 
 
NB All links open in a new window.
 
 
Cost
 
 
Show Costs - 
 
Freestival Show Registration - £80
Edinburgh Fringe Show Registration / Programming - £192 (£96 x 2)
 
Accommodation Costs - 
 
Room rent (for 31st July - 26 Aug) - £547.50
 
Travel Costs - 
 
Train - £131
 
 
Total - £950.50

Guess who’s back…

In the last 48 hours I’ve - 

-Had my show confirmed for Edinburgh.
-Started paying off / booking things for Edinburgh
-Begun blogging again.
It has been 6 months since I blogged and to be honest, it feels a little odd. Am I writing for future me, or a hypothetical audience? Still not sure.
One of the main things that comes around every year at Edinburgh is the cost. So I’ve decided to blog my ever growing list of costs here to help people doing their first Fringe.
A 4th thing I’ve been doing in the last week or so is falling out of love with stand up.
Seems a bit odd to book a show in August when your motivation for performing is at an all time low. But I know the cycle of this means it’ll pick up again in a week or two. 
I tend to find I get tired from doing too many things and feel like I am not improving or people I don’t find funny are doing better than me and just want a break from it all. 
There’s nothing wrong with needing a break. Most of the people I adore in stand up took a year or longer off to do other things while they were my age or younger. 
My day job contract ends on the 31st March (at the moment, it has been renewed 3 times so who knows) which means I’ll probably take a week off from performing (minus the ones I have booked) and write some bits as well as start a book I had an idea for while I have the time.
In medium-term plans / things that you should be aware of I am moving into a flat with my girlfriend in September. Which is exciting and (as yet) not scary in the slightest, which in itself is scary.
I have plans to go “full time” in stand up within the next 18 months (again, this is another reason I know it’s just a phase I want time off). This will be as soon as I’ve done everything I feel I want to get done in my day job and then I’ll cut back and freelance but for bursts of times (instead of all the time which is what I do right now) or for a few days a week.

2014 - Catch up blog.

Last night was a reminder of what I really enjoy about stand up. I “doubled up” (did two gigs in one night). They were fairly close to each other and short spots. 

The first one went well. The material is new(ish) and it was a rework of one of my jokes from late last year that did better than I hoped for. 

The second gig started strong, but quickly the audience decided they wanted to heckle and I did about 5 minutes of crowd work. I’ve missed doing gigs that make me feel good and want to gig more. 

I’ve done less than 10 gigs since getting back from holiday in late Jan. All of the gigs have been lovely and enjoyable, which is rare. Usually you’d find one to moan about.
 
I’ve not blogged in a while, so here’s a short life update: 

I turned 27 in December
My granddad died of cancer
I went to Vancouver, New York and Centre Parks.
My girlfriend and I have “celebrated” our 6 months anniversary (first time either of us have dated someone for this length of time).
I am working in a media agency doing social media for a bunch of brands on a contract that was due to end 2 months ago, but they keep extending it.
I think I have at least 1 Edinburgh show confirm and when it’s all signed and sealed I’ll be booking my train and place to stay.
I’ve booked a holiday for my girlfriends birthday (Italy).
I’ve taken up cooking.
I’ve got a rough date for my book release (and started on a 2nd)

This year feels big. It’s exciting. I am hoping to own a property before the year is out and I am saving to go back to NYC for a slightly longer period of time than ever.

Life is going well. But I am slightly frustrated. I love London but I want to be else where right now. I also want to gig more than I am, but most of the spots I get offered are out of town… and to get to them from central after work is both time consuming, tiring and not feasible.

I need to change things, but while I need money and my finances aren’t on “autopilot” I am a little stuck for options. So I am pretty much working on that.

Thanks for reading, future Simon.

The Road To Edinburgh 2014.

There are 336 days until 1st August 2014.

 

When you say it like that, it doesn’t seem that far away, but to someone still coming down off the back of his Edinburgh run… it feels like forever.

 

Upon returning from Edinburgh I had made an effort to ensure I had no gigs booked. I was tired, upset, frustrated, annoyed, drained and didn’t feel funny. Then 20 minutes ago I got an email from our venue from this year thanking us for taking part and expressing an interest in having us back, in a bigger room.

 

I’ve slowly been kicking myself back into “drive” mode. But that was a real push.

 

So here’s the plan for Edinburgh 2014 (subject to changes):

 

First World Problems

 

I am going to apply to do First World Problems again. Same show, bigger room, a few days off. The material will be a bunch of sets loosely put together into a string of jokes rather than a “show”.

 

2nd unnamed show.

 

In my head, I see this being a 30-minute one-man show for me. This will be in an averagely small room. This is going to be a much more polished* and rehearsed show.

 

*I’ve been half joking about getting a tattoo of the words “Stop reading your hand” on my right hand.

 

In an industry where you have to set yourself targets I am going to need a motivator. Something bigger than just a blog post, it needs to be something that I can lose, something I care about.

 

Stickk is a website where you pledge X amount of money to an “anti-charity” (a place you do not support and would have no intention of giving any money). The idea is, if you do not meet your deadline, your money goes to fund something you do not want to have more funding. If you hit your target, you get your money back.

 

I am not going to use this particular site for person reasons, but I am going to find a way of raising £1,000 to do this for myself. If I have a show written and ready (by the standards I am going to outline in a later blog), I get the money back and have my accommodation sorted for next year. If I don’t, PETA, BNP or another stupid organisation that no one should ever give any money to.

 

It’s hard for me to find money a massively motivating factor. I like it, but not in a “I really wish I had loads of it” kinda way. Same problem with “things” or clothing. I rarely buy new clothes as I like the ones I have and don’t see the need for the clutter. The Fight Club mantra “the things you own, end up owning you” rings true in my head.

 

So the logic here is more: if I don’t have the show, I don’t need the money to go up north.

 

Now, lets draw a line under the last year and everything in it. I am off to book some gigs.

The comedians new year.

Saturday night has to be my least favourite of all the nights. Out of 7, I guess I was going to have one night I don’t enjoy. So I am “in” avoiding the drunks of Edinburgh and the comedians celebrating their final shows. My final show is tomorrow, so I have very little to celebrate – although todays gig was one of the best we’ve done.

 

My Edinburgh stats / highlights are –

 

I’ve done nearly 16 hours on stage in 23 days.

2 MC spots (assuming the one tomorrow doesn’t get cancelled).

23 30-40 minute spots at our show.

I hit 300 gigs (today, and it was amazing).

 

So, with Edinburgh ending in less than 48 hours, here’s a list of my current projects (and end dates) followed by things I want to focus on for the next year – for a comedian it feels very much like a school year which starts and ends with August.

 

Edinburgh (finish Aug)

Book (est finish / publish Sept)

Shaun of the Dead screening (meant to be happening in Sept, but on hold)

 

New projects / self improvement things –

 

A max of 3 gigs a week unless there’s a bloody good reason for doing it.

Comedians Christmas Party – I need to book this as quickly as possible as places are beginning to book up.

Eating more healthily – this is a massive one. I will need to be better in body and mind, so more fruit (and maybe veg) / less takeaways and I want to work out more.

Book 2 – Once the first one is out the door I want to start writing a new book. It was nice putting the first one together so I think the process will give me some structure and direction to writing something other than comedy.

Edinburgh 2014 - I need a show concept to do on the side of First World Problems.

MC / Podcasting stand up – for 3 gigs this festival I’ve been freestyle riffing / MC-ing with another comedian (Sam Golin). I would be keen to see where that can go, given its experimental nature.

Social life – it’s true, I have very little social life. Being a gigging comedian I tend to slow my own progress down in this area so I hope to make an effort to do more interesting things and maybe even take up a sport.

Meditation – I took this up a few days ago (maybe a week now). It’s quite nice and the comedian who recommended it said it’s worth it as you get into a routine and do it for longer each day. I want to try and get up early and start my day by doing a breathing meditation thing for 5-10 minutes.

 

To keep me in line with these challenges I will use two methods / systems. Don’t break the chain is a thing I’ve used for a while but I just found an app called Lift that allows me to check in on my phone to keep me in check.

 

Game on.

Marketing At The Edinburgh Fringe - Part 1.

Today was day 5 of our “no flyering” policy. With a modest budget for marketing we’ve had to rely on word of mouth (and a little bit of Twitter) to help out our show.

 

Every single day we’ve had a full room. Yes, the Staff Room at the Three Sisters only holds 25 people on paper, but we’ve been seating 30 by rearranging the chairs.

 

Today, we turned up at 2.30 (15 minutes before our show was going to start and the minute the show before ended) and this was happening –

 

Around 60 people were on the stairs waiting to cram into the room while a sports event was happening on a big screen TV outside.

 

Every day before the show starts I ask the audiences why (other than watching comedy) they’re here. I adore feedback, and know I’ll be doing this Festival for the foreseeable future so it seems only logical I get first hand data on why / how people are coming.

 

The Top Reasons our audiences are coming to the show (from them).

 

-The show title.

-The description on the app.

-The lack of photo of the performers.

-The fact they couldn’t find anything out about the show / posters / flyers.

-They saw one of us at another show / Twitter

-They know one of us.

 

I know numbers aren’t everything. I’d rather perform to a group of 3 people who like it than 1,000 who hate it. But it’s good to have a solid room with figures.

 

Admittedly, we’re getting slightly cocky. We turn up around 40 minutes before the show. Catch up / talk about jokes, then go in, put some music on and the full fills itself.

 

We can’t downplay the role of the venue in all of this. Being so central has helped massively and the staff are 2nd to none. Having said that, a large number of people pre-planned to come to the show based on the title and description.

 

Last year I made small (and fickle) rules about what I would and wouldn’t see. Things like “no show that contained “lol” in the title”, “no show that bragged about the awards they’d won” and (slightly more reasonable) “no shows from London comedians” as I could see them any time.

 

I love that I’ve not only learned things about how I perform and write, but marketing as well. This can only benefit me in the future in both my day and night jobs.

 

A lot of shows I saw last year gained great word of mouth and that’s how I heard about it. We encourage people to tweet us feedback / tell their friends after. And as a result a portion of the audience is coming because of that.

 

I made a choice last night that I would bring back “First World Problems” next year in a slightly larger room (or attempt to). Roll on the rest of the Fringe.

 

Fringe 2013: Week 1.

Hello average of 12 readers (it’s 13, but I don’t count Pete).

 

So I’ve been in Edinburgh for 5 days which isn’t quite a week, but I have some free time at the moment. I’ve been seeing an average of 2/3 shows a day on top of mine and bumping into a lot of performers.

 

I think the first thing to say is that I adore this city. I really enjoyed it last year, but 2nd time around you just fall for it. It’s beautiful and, in a lot of ways, what I wish I had in London.

 

You can walk to anywhere easily. There’s a lot more independent shops / bars / restaurants. The skyline isn’t ruined by constantly “regenerating” buildings and above all: no M&M World (this shop gets to me for a lot of reasons, none of which I am going to go into here).

 

I could honestly live up here. I keep enjoying getting half lost looking for shows and find myself interested in seeing what the Mile looks like when it’s not covered in litter (flyers).

 

Back to the shows.

 

So far, we’ve had 3 “First World Problem” shows. The first two went with a bang. Full room. We turned away a number which would fill the room again and made a little bit of cash between us. Todays show wasn’t as good. We had a full house. Turned no one away, but had a member of the press in (even though we asked them not to come, but given they wrote nothing down for the hour… they might not be reviewing us, maybe).

 

I’ve done a couple of MC spots while I am up here. I’ve quite enjoyed trying it out and hope to get some extra bits and bobs. Not sure how much I’ll pursue it back in London.

 

Thus far the Fringe has been a good friend to me. I’ve enjoyed half the shows I’ve been to and the others… I’ll write off. Overall, not bad for 5 days…

 

I think the best part for me is that I feel I am improving. And I am getting more stage time than I would in London. I am getting very little sleep and half long to sleep in but while I have the capacity  I’ll keep this train moving.

I hope you die.

Not literally, but metaphorically I wish it on every single one of you. I hope you have the confidence to try something new and die with it. And not just die, but also go down all guns blazing… of course, I hope the idea works, but dying is actually the most fun thing (sometimes).

 

I was chatting to a comedian who has done this for a few years who was bored of his set - he’d performed it for a while by anyone’s standards. He said he had no new ideas (that is when you should stop). But we started talking and it turns out, he had a few ideas. He was just stuck in a loop of the same 10-15 minutes that got laughs.

 

When we write jokes at home it’s hard to know what’s going to work. We think it’s great but the audience of 1 (us) is the definition of a select sample. Our sense of humour, we wrote it… of course it’s the best joke ever.

 

But the real fun of this joke is going up with a half-baked idea and dying with it a few times. When the joke dies you have a ton of lessons and a corpse (keeping with the theme, stay with me) that you can cut apart and try to get something out of.

 

With Edinburgh around the corner (and the Camden Fringe which most people seem to talk about less) people are quite open to the fact parts of the show “aren’t ready”.

 

But is it ever? We’re all our own worst critics and having a deadline is good for everyone.

 

I would rather watch a performer I enjoy and respect die for 10 minutes with a new idea than my favourite stand up DVDs. I really mean that.

 

I’d rather sit, awkwardly, watching them tell me about unfunny and not interesting than watch the most polished set that brings me comfort and joy from a 20 year veteran.

 

Die hard, but do it with grace and never back out of the idea – you might get a line out  of it or discover a new idea. Oh, and don’t worry that it’s not funny. If you start down that path, might as well never gig again.

9 reasons why Edinburgh is going to be immense.

Since my post on Saturday (about some of the negative things I am not looking forward to about the Fringe) was met with such mixed reactions ranging from “no one is making you do the Fringe” and “I totally agree”. I thought I would list some of the reasons I am looking forward to August.

 

1)   Improvement. I think it’s fair to say that the more time you spend on stage the better you (should) get. I fail to see how doing 25 minutes for 23 consecutive days would result in me coming home the same performer – if I do, I will stop.

2)   Getting out of London. This city is grating on me. A different memory around each corner and the people who feel in such a rush they over look the important things in life. This is probably just my experience of it all, but the city is beautiful, the people ruin it.

3)   More control. Doing gigs over the summer has never been the easiest part of the job. Audience numbers fluctuate around the weather, but at the Fringe people have come to watch shows so it should mean better numbers (given we’re in a 20 seater room, it won’t take much to make it feel like there’s a group wanting to listen).

4)   Seeing new acts. As with last year, I am hoping to see as few London-based act shows as possible. So getting to watch a bunch of new performers from around the country is an exciting prospect. You’re a product of the gigs / venues you do as much as your material, so it’s always interesting to see how someone from Ireland differs from someone from Southampton.

5)   Being around creative people. As I said in point 2, this city is a poisonous place. The lack of creativity displayed sometimes is amazing and I am very excited to see several people, shows and everything else that the Fringe gives people the freedom to do.

6)   Having a break down. As much as most people joke about the stress of the festival most people I spoke to about last years went a bit mad at some point. The stress of it all (or something similar) got to them and I think if you don’t go mad once, you’re not doing it right.

7)   Feeling a bit honored. I probably won’t feel this at the time. It’ll be now or in hindsight that it hits me. But there are 2,695 shows at the Fringe… and I am one of them. Nearly 2,700 shows sounds like a lot (and given the majority of these are stand up you’d think it would belittle the moment a bit) but I am really proud that I’ve worked my ass off and saved to be able to afford and feel (almost) competent enough to do this.

8)   Networking. Most comedy-based opportunities are down to networking. The old “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds true. But also you have to be funny, sadly.

9)   Not being at work. It’ll be a nice feeling to “play” with doing this professionally as I’ll not have a day job to worry about… this actually worries me a bit. Given too much free time I often make mistakes and I won’t have enough time / effort to start a month-long project.