ED2010 Columns ED2010 Comedy ED2010 Week1 Edition

But First Brendon Burns

By | Published on Tuesday 31 August 2010

Brendon Burns

Our first guest editor of 2010, Brendon Burns, tells you all how you should be ‘doing’ the Fringe.

At the risk of sounding grossly ‘on-message’, as we head towards Week Two of the Festival please go and see someone you’ve never heard of. Especially if this is your first time at the Fringe, because when it comes to your favourite comic / actress / dancer / singer / writer / telekinetic performer etc… you really don’t have a clue who that is yet, but they’re here, somewhere, doing whatever it is that specifically floats your particular boat.

Quite a few Edinburgh residents tell me I’m their favourite comic… not because I’m the most famous (well, that’s obvious), or the cleverest (screw you), or even the funniest, (….). I’ve earned my place in their hearts because they saw me at my first festival. They’ve seen me die on my arse and, on the odd occasion, been the first to get out of their seats for a standing ovation.

Whether it’s Neil and Elaine, the mad Scottish couple who always sit down the front and worry about me like I’m a member of their extended family, or John the taxi driver and his body-building offspring, I’ve gained some loyal and wonderful fans here and it all began with me handing them a flyer, well over a decade ago, and asking them to come see me – a comic they’d never heard of. I don’t have an audience affiliation like that anywhere else in the world.

So take a flyer, take a chance and if you end up seeing something that reeealllly blows… Congratulations! That’s why you’re called a punter. For those on the other side of this equation – busting your arse leafletting on the Royal Mile, I implore you, treasure this time. For the rest of the year you have to adapt what you do to rooms full of uninterested drunkards. For once your audience have come for you… not the two-for-one curry or the cute barmaid.

And if you’re not getting the numbers, try employing a little reverse psychology in your selection process. It works wonders when handing out a flyer. Nothing stops a disgruntled passer-by short in his steps quicker than a snappy retraction of your leaflet coupled with a stern dismissive, “Not you!” Granted he may storm off but it certainly piques the interest of all onlookers, who might just sidle up and enquire, “What about us? Can we come?”

And so what if there’s only ten people in? They’re ten people who met you, liked you and decided to spend money on you, all in the space of a few hours. These are your people, give them everything you’ve got. Because in the microcosm of these three weeks (that sometimes feels like a fucking lifetime), that hour, in front of those ten people, is the only thing actually in your control in this whole city. Plus, you’ve handpicked this audience, if they suck, it’s your poor judgement.

With all this in mind, as Guest Editor of the latest issue of ThreeWeeks, I’ve interviewed two hidden gems, Dave Hill and Felicity Ward, at their first and second festivals respectively. They’re two people that you might not have heard of yet but you’ll be bragging you found first later. Enjoy!

Brendon Burns’ show ‘Y’Know – Love n God n Metaphysics n Shit’ was performed at the Udderbelly during Fringe 2010.