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Keith Farnan: The Fringe survival guide for children

By | Published on Thursday 20 August 2015

Keith Farnan

Keith Farnan is at the Fringe with a child in tow for the first time this year. So here he is with a few pointers. For the children of Fringe performers forced to live in amongst all this madness for a month.

For years now, the Edinburgh Fringe has been running as a 24/7 festival, which everyone assumes refers to the excess of partying, boozing and cavorting (what a lovely word to describe a range of sins, cavorting), that takes place all day and all night, except for that one hour when the bars must shut to take a breath.

However, the Fringe’s 24/7 hour claim is also possible because of all the morning and lunchtime shows, a large portion of which are now dedicated to the industry of children’s entertainment. Most comedians are aware of this because they are enticed to try their hand at lovely shows like ‘Comedy Club 4 Kids’, which allows you to try to entertain a mass of unruly children and fail with a grace unheard of on the adult circuit.

So we all know there are children at the Fringe. And that’s fine. I hope you’re all having fun. Though I’m not writing this for children attending shows at the Fringe. Nor for the people who perform at them. I am writing this for the children of people working at the Festival, because this is my first Fringe when I’ve turned up with a child in tow (and yes, it is my child, this isn’t some babysitting job gone horribly wrong).

There’s a number of things that should be made clear to all kids of Fringe performers, who are suffering this August due to the life decisions their parents have made. They are as follows…

1. Yes, we still love you. We’re just a little distracted by things that seem really important right now, but which will be of little consequence in about three weeks.

2. Your diet can always do with a little bit of variety and your immune system could probably do with a challenge.

3. There are many important lessons to be learned at the Fringe. I will take you to an improv show, so that you can see how people can enjoy each other’s company on stage and help each other to build a rich comedy tableau. I will then take you to a student revue to show you where ruthlessness is born.

4. You waking up in the middle of the night doesn’t seem to have the same traumatic affect as it does at home, because this is Edinburgh and, if needs be, we’ll pop you in the pram and take you to a free “cabaret” show which will make you sleep soundly for the rest of the month. Or at least pretend to sleep soundly.

5. We won’t exploit you for the purpose of increasing audience numbers. Too much.

6. We won’t make you sit through our own shows. Your mother will, however, take you to another stand-up show during the day without telling your father, and he will hide how hurt he is that the first show you saw wasn’t his. He will never talk of this show ever again and you will never know.

7. We all make sacrifices. This article was originally meant to be an interview piece with Mark Nelson, one of Scotland’s finest comedy exports and an experienced Fringe-father, but if you think we could possibly have been allowed the time to wander off for a few pints to conduct an “interview”, think again.

8. Feel free to eat other people’s flyers, but have the decency to wait until their back is turned. They may be the actual performer of the show, who has invested many months, no, years, putting this show together, rather than just someone who made the decision to try their hand at flyering yesterday.

9. The fact that you smile when introduced to everyone is a joy and allows everybody to forget their troubles for a second. And the fact that you cried when a dodgy promoter tried to say hello is a treasured memory.

10. You’re right, we should just go home and watch ‘In The Night Garden’, it is much more fun… but just one more stop.

‘Keith Farnan: Anonymous’ was performed at Underbelly Cowgate at Edinburgh Festival 2015.


Photo by Charlotte Barnes