ED2019 TW:DIY

TW:DIY Eight Step Plan For Doing The Fringe

By | Published on Saturday 31 August 2019

At Edinburgh 2019 we asked some of our favourite Fringe people to offer their advice – sometimes sensible, sometimes silly – for getting the most out of the Edinburgh Festival in eight steps: four tips for punters, four tips for performers. Based on all their answers we are very pleased to present the TW:DIY Eight Step Plan For Doing The Fringe.

You can also check out each individual Eight Step Q&A here.

1. Beyond posters and reviews, how do you suggest people pick shows to see at this year’s Fringe?

Joz Norris: Oh boy, oh boy, talk to people. Sometimes the most incredible shows aren’t even the ones with all the great reviews or the most eye-catching posters. See what people are really excited to tell you about, it might be something that’s flying completely under the radar.

Julia Croft: Listen to the word of mouth. Once the Festival is underway, you quickly start hearing from folks about the shows you cannot miss. And take a few chances – see something you might not usually go to see.

Chelsea McGuffin: Take a risk! There is so much on and so much to see. See something suggested, see a must-see show and see a bunch of things you have never heard of, or a style or form that is new to you. Edinburgh is something to be experienced so get in amongst it!

Al Samuels: Poll three or four Fringe super-nerds for recommendations. There are some people who somehow fit 50-60 shows in over the month.

Andy Field: One of the great things about the Fringe is how many bad shows there are and I love a bad show! A few years ago I found a Shakespearean-style tragedy based on the trial of Oscar Pistorious. They gave out stickers that said Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, PISTORIOUS. You just don’t get to see people taking such bold, ill-advised creative punts that often in life, so you have to grab these opportunities with both hands. Someone flyers you for a show that sounds objectively terrible? Go to it. It only takes an hour and you might see something that stays with you forever.

Scream Phone: Word of mouth is a HUGE deal at the Fringe, so ask your friends and family what they have seen that they would recommend. And following on from that, spread the word when you see something you love! Twitter, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr… tell everyone!

Tanya Agarwal: Flyers! We’ve seen some brilliant things we found out about from random flyers that we’ve been given. The Fringe is such a great place to see things that you would normally never see and be pleasantly surprised – for the most part!

John-Luke Roberts: Take a few chances. Follow your heart and your impulses and go and see something you’d never normally see. Best case scenario, you see something brilliant you never expected, worst case scenario you have a great story about when you saw that awful one man production of ‘Finnegans Wake’ performed in Spanish and couldn’t leave because you were in the middle of a row.

Ian Smith: Word of mouth is probably the best way to choose a show – find a like-minded friend and see what they’ve enjoyed the most. Also, it’s worth just taking a chance and seeing something at random, because there is so much going on, you never know what might blow you away.

James Rowland: Absolutely word of mouth. If someone you like recommends you something, chances are you’ll like that too.

Susan Harrison: Chatting to people in queues can be a good way to hear about which shows are capturing people’s imaginations, as word of mouth really does count for a lot at the Fringe. I also like the randomness of going to see the first thing you get flyered for – whatever it is! – as that way you are pretty much guaranteed to see something unexpected.

Just These Please: Talk to literally anyone: people in queues, people in bars, people in bins (there’s a lot of weirdos in Edinburgh during August) and ask for their recommendation. Word of mouth makes the Festival. Just check why they saw the show first, cause there’s always a good chance that they’re the performer’s mum.

The Thinking Drinkers: Try and pick up on word of mouth, speak to people in pubs and coffee shops, have a look on Twitter and listen to any Fringe podcasts. But more importantly than all that, just buy a ticket for the next show that’s on near you – especially if it’s not something you’ve heard of or it’s something you’d not normally choose. It may be rubbish, it may be absolutely brilliant. It’s what the Festival is all about.

Micky Overman: Take recommendations! If there’s a performer you particularly like, look on Twitter to see if they’ve tweeted out recommendations. Lots do! If they haven’t, ask them to do it! That way you get to know about acts you maybe otherwise wouldn’t necessarily consider/know about.

Jordan & Skinner: Ask a local! Many Edinburgh folk are well seasoned Fringe-goers and often know where to go to take a risk and where to go when you want to see something specific.

Samantha Pressdee: Close your eyes, open the Fringe brochure at a random page and then spit on it. Go see the person who’s face you’ve just spat on. It’s only fair that you show them some support after what you’ve just done!

Alex Gwyther: Understand that reviews are subjective, so if it’s a topic you’re interested in – or if it grabs your attention – don’t be put off by reviews. Go and see it. Also, word of mouth. Listen to people’s recommendations and definitely give recommendations. It helps a lot!

Natano Fa’anana: Ask someone working at one of the cafe stalls or bars or food outlets near the venues. They usually hear what audiences have to say about the shows. Or just take a punt. There are literally thousands of shows to choose from and there’s a real chance you might stumble across a diamond in the rough.

Oliver Forsyth: It’s a tough one, but I always get swayed into shows based on a good, old-fashioned flyering pitch. If the person talking to you can get you interested or get you laughing, then the chances are they can do that on stage as well. Anyone can have a good poster.

Sukh Ojla: Word of mouth and Twitter are great resources. Keep an open mind and look beyond comedy and theatre!

Naomi McDonald: Occasionally it’s fun to let the shows pick you. Some of my favourite experiences were when I was so hungover I didn’t have the energy to say no to a pushy flyerer and was coerced into seeing something totally random. Yes it was awful, but that’s Fringe life baby!

James McNicholas: Throw a dart in Bristo Square, and whichever comedian it hits, you see their show.

Eric Lampaert: Take risks. Playing safe is boring. That’s what the large majority of people do with the rest of their life, so don’t do it at a festival. Get weird and challenge yourself to try new flavours.

Robyn Perkins: My top tip is compilation shows. Compilation shows are a great way to see a lot of acts in an hour, and get a feel for what you like. I’ve HEARD there is a great one at 1.30 in the afternoon called ‘Laugh Train Home’ with an amazing host (me!). I’ve heard. Also, talk to other punters. Word of mouth is a great way to find hidden gems. Talk to audiences at shows you like. Or if you like a performer, ask THEM who they recommend. Ask everyone! There are so many styles of shows, one person’s top show may not be someone else’s.

Ed Night: Use a website to randomly generate a number between one and 200. Open the Fringe Guide to that page, then Blu Tac it on to your wall open at that page. Go down to Argos and buy some darts – don’t forget to bring your ID! – then throw a dart at the Fringe guide. See which show it lands on and then come to mine instead. Alternatively, check your favourite comedian / actor / musician/writer’s Twitter page. A lot of people are recommending their favourite shows to see.

2. What tips have you got for people trying to see as many shows as possible in one day – how can you power through?

Sukh Ojla: Firstly, don’t! There are nearly 4000 shows at the Fringe, you won’t be able to watch everything you want to see. So choose your ‘must see’ shows but leave some space in your schedule to eat, dry off and just take in the atmosphere!

Julia Croft: Honestly, I am not a fan of trying to squeeze in ten shows a day. I would say aim for three max and give yourself time after each show. Drink a beer, have a think about the show, have a chat about it. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to see everything.

John-Luke Roberts: Bananas are a great source of energy and potassium. And water – bring water – those rooms are hot. Also try and put the more soporific productions at the beginning of the day, when you are alert, and save all the loudest ones for the end to keep you awake.

Ian Smith: Allow enough time for toilet stops! I’ve tried to cram in three shows in a row before and the third one I just spent the whole time thinking about how much I needed to piss. I have no memory of that third show at all.

Ed Night: This is a tough one. I appreciate that there are way more great shows to see than any of us have time for, but I think you can probably do too many. If you’re rushing from one venue to the other, I’d imagine it’s harder to stay alert or really take in the show you’re seeing.

Oliver Forsyth: Plan your goddamn meals, people! No one ever munched their way through a plate of nachos with two pints and then thought, “Let’s go concentrate in a dark room for 60 minutes”. If you want that elusive seven-show day, then bananas, mixed nuts and water are your friends. Sounds unbelievably boring though.

Jordan & Skinner: Take a walk outside in-between shows, preferably somewhere green. Take some tasty snacks, like those protein balls. And make your programme as varied as possible – a bit of circus, a bit of theatre, a bit of music, a bit of Book Festival, a bit of comedy.

Al Samuels: Two words: Diet Irn-Bru. Is that two and half words?. Also, mix it up. See an improvised musical (we have a great one), then a dance piece, then a two-hander, then a musical parody of ‘Game Of Thrones’ (wait, we have one of those too!) I have a hard time packing too many shows into any one day, though. I get show fatigue.

Joz Norris: Red bull and cranberry juice keeps me going during the Fringe. I think it rots my insides, but it sure keeps me awake.

Scream Phone: Coffee, coffee, coffee. Then, more importantly… cocktails, cocktails, cocktails!

Samantha Pressdee: Book shows consecutively that are geographically close. Meditate in between the shows. Get up from your seat just before the show starts and do the yogic power pose in the aisle followed by the downward dog.

Micky Overman: As someone whose show is later in the day, I would say make sure you’re not laughed out. Sometimes a lot of shows is just too many shows. Make sure there’s still an anticipation and an excitement there. Otherwise: drink lots of water!

Robyn Perkins: In short: Diversity, coffee and well placed alcohol. I think it is crucial – for everyone – to fill their days with a variety of shows. Go see circus, theatre, improv, solo shows, compilation shows, chat shows and more. There are compilation/panel shows with really great concepts like ‘Set List’, ‘Hate N Live’ and ‘Comedy In The Dark’. The change in style will keep you engaged.

The Thinking Drinkers: It’s essential that you completely underestimate how long it takes to get around – thus making sure that you’re constantly running up and down cobbled hills in inappropriate footwear and rain jackets that will make you sweat profusely. No more than five shows in a day. And follow the Thinking Drinkers’ motto – “Drink Less Drink Better”.

Natano Fa’anana: Go hard I reckon! I mean, if you have only one day at the Festival, then go hard. Though, maybe if you are doing three days in a row, have half time oranges. Then get back on that horse and go hard again.

Alex Gwyther: Take a break. Have time to process one show before moving on to the next. Eat bananas. Drink water.

Eric Lampaert: Schedules are useful, but allow room for improvising in case you’re intrigued by a different show. You didn’t come to the festival to sleep, so wake early, exercise, eat well and you should have plenty of energy to get you going all day. I’m not your Dad, you know what’s best for you.

Just These Please: As people who don’t particularly excel at Excel, we’d opt for allowing room for spontaneity. Let yourself be flyered by people and be surprised by taking a chance on something you’ve never heard of. Especially if it’s sketch comedy at 12.15pm.

Naomi McDonald: Wear your comfiest shoes possible. This sounds obvious but I once wore heeled boots to the Fringe… WRONG. Pack your bag with an Irn Bru and a flapjack, insert a catheter, and you’re good to go!

Andy Field: If you start drinking early you’re going to end up in a position where you need to pee more than once an hour and that’s going to be an issue if you’re in an audience. I wouldn’t say don’t drink of course, but it is worth investing in some sort of catheter/piss bag! That way, you never have to disrupt a show with your drunken bladder and you’ll be all set to have a great day.

James Rowland: Make time for meals, it’s impossible to take in a show if you’re hungry. And plan your routes, so you never have to cross the entire city in fifteen minutes.

Tanya Agarwal: Pints and Paracetamol.

Susan Harrison: Spreadsheet, raincoat, caffeine! The holy trinity of serious Fringe go-ers!

Chelsea McGuffin: Sugar, coffee, beer and wine as the day progresses. You will slump at some point but push through the madness, it will blow your mind.

James McNicholas: I eat a packet of Haribo before every show to keep me going. One bag of Tangfastics per show should see you right.

3. When people are reaching peak Fringe, what tips do you have for chilling out during the Festival?

Just These Please: There is no need to chill out in Edinburgh: it will be cold. Whilst it’s brrrrr-illiant to have so many amazing performances readily available, Edinburgh is also a beautiful city. Have a wander around, go to the museum and climb Arthur’s Seat.

Ian Smith: Find somewhere a bit away from the centre, or a cafe that not many people know about, to get away from the crowds. It’s nice to have a few moments with a bit of space doing nothing, as opposed to jostling for space with the silent discos on the already busy pavements.

James McNicholas: Go to the beach. Being hassled by seagulls instead of flyerers is a very welcome change.

Oliver Forsyth: When I’ve gone up as a punter, I often take the first flyer I get given and then pretend I’m selling that show. All of a sudden no one talks to you, sits with you or bothers you. Works a treat.

Naomi McDonald: George Square is pretty chill. I like to buy a falafel, sit on the grass and people-watch. It gives me a moment to space out when I can’t bear to watch another show, or I’m tired of running away from a comedian I once dated.

James Rowland: There are so many things to do, Edinburgh’s a big city and the Fringe is only a part of it, so go for a walk. If you’re stuck for inspiration as to where to go, just imagine if there was a massive hill in the middle of the city to walk up.

Andy Field: I tend to go lie down in the Meadows and smoke a joint, but I realise that might not be for everyone. Still, if you’d like a bit of second hand high, feel free to come find me and I’ll blow smoke in your face until you get sleepy. My show this year is at 2.10pm so I’ll most likely be available for this service everyday between 3.30pm and midnight.

Robyn Perkins: Chilling out during the Festival?! Nope. Haven’t heard of it. Actually, I am debating on whether to tell people this, as I don’t want it ruined, but Divino’s is an amazing Italian restaurant in Merchant Street. It is so central, but in a basement, so a different chill vibe. The food is incredible and the cocktails are just as great. Also, there is no cell service, so you are really away from it all. Other than that, if you have money, go to a spa and get a massage. If you don’t have money, climb Carlton Hill at sunrise. It’s quieter than Arthur’s Seat and the city is calm for just a couple of hours between 4-6am.

The Thinking Drinkers: Wander out to the Meadows and sit on the grass for a bit – maybe play a bit of pitch and putt. Or you could walk up Arthur’s Seat – but it’s bloody massive. It’s always good to go to a proper Edinburgh pub or bar as well – The Oxford Pub is an iconic Edinburgh boozer and Bramble, one of the best bars in the world, does a cracking cocktail.

Scream Phone: When we feel we’re needing a bit of down time nothing beats a picnic in the Meadows – weather permitting obviously! And, if you have the time, a trip to Portobello beach is amazing.

Micky Overman: Peak Fringe is utter dread, yes? Go to the Meadows and lie down, or go climb up Arthur’s Seat. Just do something non-Fringe to charge your battery. I hear you can take a bus to the beach! Do that! I’ll come!

John-Luke Roberts: Go and sit on the Meadows with a book.

Alex Gwyther: Know when enough is enough. Limit your time on the Mile and flyering. Work hard, but listen to your body and your mind. Meditate. Have a routine. Definitely have a routine.

Natano Fa’anana: Sit outside any of the venues and soak up the atmosphere with no obligation of seeing a show. Chill with a coffee or wine and then – when it feels right – then get up and see a show.

Joz Norris: Last year I went swimming every morning and that helped a lot. I also love climbing a big hill, either Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill. And there’s a particular cafe I love to go to because nobody knows about it. I’m not telling you where it is.

Jordan & Skinner: Come to the People’s Republic Of Leith! We have a great market on a Saturday down at the shore and there’s loads of nice pubs and other places to hang out in away from Fringe town.

Al Samuels: Climb Arthur’s Seat – such a beautiful view of the city and the Firth. If that’s too daunting, climb Calton Hill. Not quite as beautiful, but not as strenuous either. If that’s too daunting, climb into bed and look at pictures of Edinburgh on the internet.

Samantha Pressdee: Go for a massage. There is nothing more relaxing in my opinion. If you don’t have time for a massage, there is always wine!

Ed Night: Arthur’s seat is a fucking tough walk, but I’ve always found it very good for perspective and tranquillity. Or maybe change your phone background to a picture of a waterfall or something.

Tanya Agarwal: Go for a walk somewhere that’s not Fringe mad. Believe it or not, as soon as you move out of the city centre it’s as if life has continued as normal and theatre doesn’t matter. It’s so refreshing to walk around somewhere were you’re not having a million flyers shoved in your face.

Julia Croft: Take one day where you commit to ignoring the whole Fringe – see no shows, cook dinner at home, watch a movie. Shut out the chaos just for 24 hours!

Sukh Ojla: Find a quiet green space. There are some little peaceful pockets in Edinburgh. Alternatively, take a day trip to Portobello beach and see how many miserable comedians you can spot.

Susan Harrison: Go for a walk up Arthur’s seat and turn your phone off. Or go for a swim and turn your phone off. Basically, turn your phone off.

Chelsea McGuffin: Sleep. Go to the park. Walk up the hill. Start all over again.

Eric Lampaert: Marijuana is available in all shady backstreets of the Festival.

4. What things do you think should be on every Fringe-goers Edinburgh Festival bucket list?

Eric Lampaert: Something new. A totally random experience that you force yourself to enjoy. So even if it’s crap, you make yourself enjoy the moment.

Ed Night: Take a chance on something. Not like go into a show completely blind, but maybe a lesser known performer or company that fits the remit of what you wanna see.

Scream Phone: If you’re feeling adventurous climb Arthur’s Seat! The views are INCREDIBLE!

Natano Fa’anana: Climb Arthurs Seat at sunrise. There are also cafes and hairdressers and schools that have been converted into performance spaces for the Festival. So check out a show in one of those and get a bit of variety. Have a real Haggis meal with the locals and, of course, watch a Casus show!

Naomi McDonald: The Pleasance Courtyard has the best vibe, even if you’re just having a beer there. And Tingthai Caravan for a dreamy dinner made up of noodle-curry-heavenliness.

James Rowland: Arthur’s Seat, watching shows in Summerhall and also watching something weird and terrible in a basement because you happened to be walking past.

Samantha Pressdee: Climb Arthur’s seat (though I still haven’t got around to it!) Go see the Military Tattoo (though again, still not ticked off on my list!) Gatecrash an industry party (I have done this!)

Ian Smith: Getting in a good position to see the fireworks going off from the castle at the end of the day.

The Thinking Drinkers: ‘Thinking Drinkers: Heroes Of Hooch’. Seriously, it’s the best show up here. It got five stars from “Out of 100” Magazine. Other than that, we always check out the brilliant Tony Law – just to make sure he’s doing OK.

Tanya Agarwal: Mosque Kitchen is by far the best food experience in Edinburgh – don’t miss out!

Just These Please: In our opinion, no Fringe is complete without seeing NewsRevue, Abandoman and Lucy Porter.

Andy Field: Everyone visiting the Fringe should enthusiastically take part in one of the silent disco walking tours and also find time to watch other people take part and furiously resent them. Only then can we truly understand the duality of human nature and, ultimately, the meaning of life.

Julia Croft: The karaoke at Frankensteins, the Summerhall Courtyard, seeing at least one show that makes you cry, going up to your new art crush when you see them on the street and embarrassing yourself with your over excited fan-girling over their work.

Oliver Forsyth: Couple of years back we climbed onto the roof of the union and hugged the dome. While that was obviously quite stupid, it also felt like a tick in the box. Don’t tell The Pleasance though, they’ll be fuming.

Susan Harrison: Going to see a Free Fringe show, having breakfast at City Cafe, dodging flyerers on the Meadows and sitting under some kind of awning in the pouring rain nursing a pint and thinking about that experimental disturbing piece of theatre you just saw.

John-Luke Roberts: If you always see comedy, go to some cabaret, or theatre, or performance art, or dance. Your bucket list should be the things you don’t normally do. Also, it’s a bit weird calling it a bucket list because that sounds like you die at the end of the month!

Robyn Perkins: Arthur’s Seat, ‘Mating Selection’, Oink the hog roast place, a circus show, ‘Mating Selection’, the Gilded Balloon Library Bar, ‘Mating Selection’, and a tour of Real Mary Queen’s Close.

Al Samuels: Get to a proper pub and hear some good Scottish musicians play. Civernos pizza slices are amazing. And climb Arthur’s Seat – such a beautiful, yeah, I’ve already done that one.

James McNicholas: Anything except “walk up Arthur’s Seat”. Everyone bangs on about walking up Arthur’s Seat, but honestly who in God’s name wants to do that on a hangover? Forget about it, get on with your lives.

Jordan & Skinner: See some international stuff. Anything from traditional music to dance or plays from other countries. The WORLD is in town so don’t just see UK stuff, or European stuff, or Western stuff. Get out there! Also, I’ve always wanted to do that walking tour with the Silent Disco. So do that too!

Micky Overman: Take a punt. You haven’t had a complete Fringe experience until you’ve taken a chance on something. Either it’s good and you’re happy you went, or it’s bad and you’ll be happy you went because those are the ones you remember and reminisce about with your friends.

Sukh Ojla: Listen to The Blueswater play the blues at The Jazz Bar, eat at Ciao Roma and get lost down on a cobbled side street.

Chelsea McGuffin: Mmmmm…. Experience it like you will never come back again. The madness might get you…

Alex Gwyther: Make connections with people that last after the Fringe.

Joz Norris: Make sure you have a total nervous breakdown at some point. You’re really not doing it right if that doesn’t happen. Also try to wake up in a toilet about halfway through the month, that’s happened with an alarming regularity to me.

5. Beyond the flyer, what tips have you got for performers trying to get people into their shows?

Ian Smith: As useless as this advice may seem, just working on making the show as good as it can be – and, for stand-up comedians in particular, there are a ton of guest slots where you can perform and plug the show. Book in as many as you can do without tiring yourself out.

Oliver Forsyth: Not the most helpful advice, in fact it’s painfully obvious, but making your show very good will go a long way. I think it can be easy in the chaos of Fringe to start prioritising all the noise around the Festival, rather than the work. Make something excellent and people will come. I hope!

James Rowland: Focus on making your show as good as possible. You can’t force people into your room, but the better your show is, the more people will want to come.

Andy Field: It really helps if the show is good. Like, if people leave your show and they say “that was great, let’s tell all of our friends”, that’s a very good sign. I once heard someone leave a show of mine and say “yknow what, I think I prefer just watching stand-up on TV”. Naturally, attracting audience for that one was an uphill battle.

Joz Norris: I honestly think the most important thing is to have an amazing show you love and care about every day. Also, invest in your flyerers. Give them your time and energy and care and support, because their enthusiasm for your show will count for a lot.

The Thinking Drinkers: Talking to people always helps. Get involved in any of the live chat shows. Social media is important too – but beyond that, let word of mouth do the work. And it does actually work. Oh, and try not to stress too much about it all – it’s just mucking about really and if you’ve got a good show then you’ve done all you can.

Alex Gwyther: Be sociable and speak to other performers, as they will also come and see your show. Social media is really important. Build a network of other shows online, maybe by using hashtags.

Samantha Pressdee: Track them down on social media! Find people looking for show recommendations on Twitter and recommend yourself. If you are not comfortable selling yourself create a spy account. Go undercover.

Scream Phone: We once made a rule that we’d only take a flyer if the flyerer made us laugh. So get some good chat prepared for those long hours on the Mile. And try to make a genuine connection with people when talking about your show rather than just shoving unwanted flyers into people’s hands.

Naomi McDonald: Talk to people’s faces! Boldly approach them and pitch your show with genuine enthusiasm and the response might surprise you. The amount of times people would say ‘what… that’s actually you on the flyer?!?!? I’m definitely coming then!’ was quite astonishing.

Natano Fa’anana: Bounce off your friends. Give shout outs to your colleagues and they’ll do the same for you. Flyer for one another. Support one another.

John-Luke Roberts: If you’re flyering, talk to people, it’s the only way. Handing out bits of paper and shouting a sentence about your show won’t do much good at all – you’ve got to engage people in discussion. Any discussion: it doesn’t even have to be about the show, you just want them to feel emotionally obliged to support you financially.

Just These Please: We’ve really found that the best way of getting people in, building an audience and spreading the word is by having prolonged chats with people. The half-hearted palmed-off flyer is no match for a genuine chat in the beer garden.

Jordan & Skinner: Make pals with people you meet around town. And that includes anyone and everyone – so taxi drivers, waiting staff, hotel/hostel receptions. They might pass details of your show on to other people. They might not, of course, but at least you’ve had a nice chat!

Micky Overman: Ask your audience to tell people and Tweet about it. Word of mouth is such a strong sell. The people that say “if you make a good show, they’ll come” are right. But it only counts for, like, the REALLY good shows. So unless you’ve made some kind of masterpiece, ask people to tweet.

Susan Harrison: Going to see other people’s shows and chatting to them online, or in real life, can be a nice way to swap bums on seats.

Julia Croft: Make friends with folks at the Fringe and ask them to come along. Word of mouth seriously works better than flyering, so just start chatting to people.

Tanya Agarwal: Have genuine conversations with people about your show instead of just flyering them. Social media is also great for getting the word out.

James McNicholas: One year there was a show on at the Pleasance where, 20 minutes before his show, a guy would run around the courtyard completely naked except for a rugby ball over his genitals. He sold out every day.

Robyn Perkins: Brute force and questionable morals? Is it kidnapping if they are adults? I think with so many performers up there, it is hard to trust complete strangers. As such, ask your audience to tell people – assuming they like you! Also, I find doing as many short spots as possible at compilation shows and then exit flyering is great. That way people see five to ten minutes of you, as a ‘try before you buy’ type thing. But make sure you stick around until the end to hand out flyers… people have a short memory.

Ed Night: False advertising.

Sukh Ojla: Twitter, outdoor advertising, Tinder? I honestly have no idea!

Chelsea McGuffin: I think this is the million dollar question! Be bold, stay true to your show. Don’t over sell yourself. Promote other people. The more we help each other the more we all benefit. Enjoy it. At the end of the day we don’t have that much control over it.

Eric Lampaert: A gun.

Al Samuels: If they won’t come in the show, slowly pat your pocket and give them the “I’ve got a gun and I’ll use it if you don’t see this show” look. Sorry, I’m American. This is how we solve our problems.

6. The Fringe can be great for finding a new audience. What tips would you have for staying connected with that new audience beyond Edinburgh?

Just These Please: After our show, two of our very sweaty cast run out to thank the audience as they leave. We’re really interested in what drew them to the show and what they thought of it, so it’s great chatting to them. Of course, we’re also on all the social media and that allows us to stay in touch after the Fringe. Until the next year we just keep making work, if the audience enjoyed the show and we had a nice chat, then hopefully they want to keep up to date with our new stuff.

Naomi McDonald: Pointing them in the direction of all your social media is, of course, helpful these days. Shout it obnoxiously at them at the end of your show and watch how the followers flood in.

Sukh Ojla: I think social media plays a huge part here. Your audience will be from all over the country – and beyond! – so keep your social media updated with any upcoming gigs.

Joz Norris: Social media is obviously great for that, but if you meet audience members from cities you don’t often perform, ask them to hook you up with local venues or promoters so you can give those new audiences opportunities to see you live and follow the development of your work.

Andy Field: Get everyone to write their email addresses down so you can add them to your mailing list. After that all you need is their passwords and you’ll have access to all of their online accounts, which you can scour for intimate secrets that can be used to control them in the future. An audience member that’s only attending your show because you’re blackmailing them is still an audience member.

John-Luke Roberts: A mailing list is useful isn’t it? Also, make your show very good so they’ll remember it and want to come back.

Alex Gwyther: Set up a mailing list, give out a performance programme – just a sheet of A4 – after each show with contact details.

Robyn Perkins: I guess social media, but really a mailing list. Everyone is on social media, so often tweets just aren’t seen. If you set up a mailing list, it’s a more direct connection with someone. Also, if you know your show title for next year, tell them that! I am not sure if this works, but I did that in Perth in February…come back and ask me February 2020!

Ed Night: It’s a bit boring but social media. Plug that shit, then when you got the followers, keep peoples’ attention. It sounds cynical – and nobody likes having to sell themselves or “play the game” – but there’s such a deluge of shit on everyone’s feeds you kinda have to just remind everyone that you exist.

Oliver Forsyth: Put something new, and good, on as soon as possible afterwards. Then bang on about it and, if they liked the first piece, they’ll come back.

Al Samuels: Social media – duh! We also go outside after each show to talk to the audience, which is a nice way to connect face to face.

Tanya Agarwal: Social media! It’s probably the best and easiest way to stay in touch.

James McNicholas: Social media. Why not replace the warmth of that beautiful live connection with the glacial coldness of the occasional ‘like’?!

Scream Phone: Sorry to say it, but it’s social media. Get your Twitter handle engraved into the audiences’ minds. Not only is that word of mouth for your show, but a few more cheeky followers. Yes please! Talking of which, it’s @swiperighttc

Natano Fa’anana: Definitely find ways to stay in touch. Whether it be via social media or by sending a couple of key people in each specific community a message or email. Simply to say hello and thank you for supporting your art.

Susan Harrison: I’d say make full use of social media. Stay engaged and keep putting stuff out there so that people don’t forget who you are!

The Thinking Drinkers: While we are not fans of social media, it seems to be rather popular with people. Get a mailing list – we did. The only person on it is Ben though. So that may not be the best idea.

Samantha Pressdee: Ask them to follow you on social media. I did try starting a mailing list, but I never got around to doing the admin before GDPR came in. You could do that if you are good at admin.

Jordan & Skinner: Get a mailing list! We’ve been slow on this one and are just getting it sorted now, but we’re really excited about this. Because we are a feminist theatre company, we also try to connect our audience in with other activists and artists. We use our social media to do this at the moment and are excited about being able to do even more of that with our new mailing list.

Micky Overman: Depends how many liked you I guess. If it’s a lot, maybe start a newsletter? If it’s just one person, maybe start a new pen-pal relationship based on the fact that they’re the only one that truly ‘gets’ you (this is not based on a real-life example!).

Ian Smith: I think the main thing is to be active on social media and to keep creating content for audiences to see in between your shows. After this Fringe I’m going to up my tweet-per-day stats. Everybody loves stats.

James Rowland: Hahaha, I’m probably not the right person to answer this one! I dunno, give them your home address? Start a mailing list? Twitter? I should probably think about this.

Julia Croft: Oh I am terrible at this! I am way too self-effacing to maintain a decent social media presence. I will try and get better next time, I promise I will!

Eric Lampaert: Social media is the real answer. But a tandem ride on the back of a tiger will forever be seared in your mind and create an unbreakable connection.

Chelsea McGuffin: Talk to your audience. Get out front and meet the people seeing your show. Hear the good and bad and make real connections.

7. Performing at the Fringe is partly about building a network. What tips have you got for people looking to make connections in the industry?

Chelsea McGuffin: Be clear about what you want from the Fringe. Make a few great connections that have real potential rather than fifty that are window shoppers that you will never have time to follow up.

Susan Harrison: Be nice, go and see other people’s work, attend workshops if you’re interested in what’s being shared, and if you enjoyed someone else’s show then help them spread the word. What goes around comes around.

Samantha Pressdee: Visit the performers bars and chat to people in there. Ask your peers for introductions. Just be nice to everyone.

Ian Smith: Go and see shows and be nice to people. It’s easy to just focus on yourself and get bogged down with work. Go and see shows by interesting people and congratulate them and start a conversation if you see them afterwards.

Oliver Forsyth: Don’t stay in. It’s only one month, go out, meet people, see their shows and don’t just hunt around for ‘big’ people. Anyone you meet there could be running Paines Plough in five years time, so be nice.

Sukh Ojla: Be friendly. And talk to people as – well – people, and not as potential employers.

Natano Fa’anana: At Casus we have a “no wanker policy”. That’s a good mantra! Every person that crosses your path might play a role in connecting you with the industry. Respect that relationship and don’t be a wanker.

Naomi McDonald: Try and wangle your way into venue member-only bars. Neck as much beer as possible. Then stalk someone who looks important. The smoking area is a great place to corner someone… so I hear.

Scream Phone: KINDNESS! Ask people how they are before asking about their show. We always remember the genuine chats we have with companies, over someone reeling off their show synopsis.

Al Samuels: See other shows similar to yours and compare notes. Talk to anyone you think might be even tangentially interested in the same things you are. You never know. That’s one of the best parts of the Fringe. You become connected – often forever – to people you would have never met outside of Fringe and you never know where it might lead.

Robyn Perkins: Don’t just walk around asking for spots. Be real when talking to people. In terms of things you can do to connect, I would say bars and watch shows. Go to the industry bars. You don’t necessarily have to be at the VIP bars, but there are venues where comics hang out more. Second – and probably more importantly – watch other people’s shows. Performers do not tend to watch as much as they should, so it means a LOT if you put in the time to support other acts.

John-Luke Roberts: If you set out to network, be sincere. People can sniff it if it feels fake – the real key to it is just being nice and friendly. Don’t stop a conversation with a friend or an excited audience member half way through to speak to some bigwig you’ve seen over their shoulder. Don’t forget you’re doing this for the audience, not for the industry.

Just These Please: See other people’s shows and be kind – everyone’s tired! The more supportive you are, the more knowledgeable you become about what’s on and who’s who. Edinburgh is also very much the place for approaching people and asking them questions. You’ll either be greeted with someone willing to share their experience or someone who’s literally just off stage and too sweaty to compute.

The Thinking Drinkers: Sleep with as many people as possible. Not really. It sounds a bit pretentious but the VIP artists bars are a good way of meeting people. Also, go and see as many shows as you can handle and introduce yourself afterwards. It’s always good to meet folk who are in the same boat. Again, stuff like Twitter is also a good way of connecting with people.

Julia Croft: Just be open and friendly, ask people for coffees and drinks, try and bump into them in an artist bar, and know that these things can take a long time. Don’t be impatient and don’t talk about your work too much, be a good human first and be an artist selling their work second.

Alex Gwyther: Be open, listen, be kind, be sociable, be enthusiastic. And leave your ego at home!

Jordan & Skinner: Think local and global. Sometimes the Fringe is a great way to connect with people who are actually based near your home town. And once you’ve made that connection, it’s easy to keep in touch. Also, we’ve found that getting to know other people performing at our venues can be really valuable. These connections have proven to be some of the greatest and longest lasting benefits of performing at the Fringe.

Tanya Agarwal: Buy people drinks and talk about things apart from theatre.

James Rowland: Make good work and be nice… Don’t be shy about telling people you like their shows and, if you see something you like, invite them to yours.

Joz Norris: I think try not to reach too hard for that sort of thing. Invite people you’d like to work with, and stay in touch with them, and if you’re the right sort of thing then they may well try to work with you. But don’t come off too needy or desperate. Those things come to you at the right time if you work hard enough on making something good, and grasping too much for them I think makes them harder to reach.

Micky Overman: I have absolutely no idea, which means I either have absolutely no idea or I want to keep all my secrets to myself. But it is 100% the former. My best guess is sleep your way to the top. Go on!

Ed Night: Sneak into their houses, steal something of theirs, and then say you’ll give it back but ONLY if they put you on the TV.

Eric Lampaert: Slap the most important person at the fringe in the face. They’ll definitely remember you.

James McNicholas: Sleep around. It’s certainly benefited [NAME REDACTED].

Andy Field: Every big venue has a private bar for performers and industry. If you don’t have a pass, just try and blag it. Once inside, find the most influential person you can and simultaneously take a sample of their DNA (hair, saliva, that sort of thing) and poison them. Take the DNA and make a clone. Then you just need to stalk the famous person until they die from the poison, dispose of the corpse, swap in the clone and boom: you have total control over one of the biggest names in comedy. The world is your oyster.

8. How would you recommend performers stay healthy during all the Fringe madness?

Al Samuels: This is a joke question, right?!

The Thinking Drinkers: We have a military daily moisturising routine to cope with the fluctuating weather conditions – and suggest you do too. Run around the Meadows, go to the lovely old swimming pool in Marchmont, eat fruit – the bendy yellow one is a favourite – and don’t be fooled by pastries, they look light and fluffy but they’re full of flipping butter. Take several forms of footwear as you will get trenchfoot if you only wear one pair of shows for the whole month. Apply chaffing cream to your botty if you’re going to be walking around all day. Always wash your hands after going to the loo – even if it’s just a wee wee. Brush your teeth. Don’t do drugs – drugs are for mugs. And, of course, follow the Thinking Drinkers’ mantra – “Drink Less, Drink Better”.

Ian Smith: My big thing is going to a steam room – I am a big fan of steam. Weirdly, I hate the genre of steam-punk. I join a gym in Edinburgh and use the pool and steam room to try and unwind (I’m putting this in brackets as I’m not confident it’s true – but steam rooms might help your voice too. Who knows – it sounds right though).

Chelsea McGuffin: Sleep. Party every other day. Remember why you are there and what you planned to achieve. Fringe has highs and lows. Try not to ride the general wave, just be clear on yours. And meet all the artists you can.

Sukh Ojla: Sleep, stay hydrated and give yourself permission to have some down time.

James McNicholas: There is a myth that you cannot get fruit and vegetables in Edinburgh. This is not true: there is an old man who lives under one of the bridges who says he can get you an orange if you’ll watch him show you his party trick.

Samantha Pressdee: Raid Holland & Barrett! Eat curry and drink lots of water. Go to a yoga class or take advantage of some of the free workshops Fringe Central has on offer such as massage, mindful Mondays and mental health first aid.

Scream Phone: When we debuted with our first show in 2015, we were all about partying and celebrating every evening during the Fringe! And while we will definitely still partake in the odd tipple, we’ve learnt to really pace ourselves through the four weeks. The Fringe really is like running a marathon and as performers you’ve got to take good care of yourselves. Get enough sleep and eat right… (cut to 5am we’re in Palmyra’s AGAIN, drunk and stuffing pizzas into our faces, am I right?)

Julia Croft: Magnesium! And lots of multi vitamins, and really try to get enough sleep and vegetables. Do not compare yourself or your work to those around you. Most of all make sure you are having fun.

Naomi McDonald: Sleep is genuinely the most important thing. Head home after your show and chill out occasionally, for god’s sake! Yes of course, there will be times when you’ll feel extreme FOMO as you stand waiting for your taxi to take you home and you see the person you really fancy looking proper hot, heading out to a cool bar to flirt with someone other than you. But you’ll be the one laughing the next day when you’re feeling fresh and good to go and they’re too hungover to do their show! Try it! It’s great!

Alex Gwyther: Try not drinking? Difficult, but remember you’re here to do a show, tell a story, perform for people. Don’t lose sight over why you’re here. Eat well and keep food on you – bananas, nuts, apples, rice cakes. Drink lots. And finally, try to get into a routine in the morning, the day and the evening.

Robyn Perkins: Of course I would say: exercise, sleep, eat healthy, tea and meditation. I haven’t ever worked out at the Fringe. Meditation is very helpful. Even if it is five minutes a day. As far as food, I try to cook a lot as it both relaxes me and is inherently healthier. If none of that happens, eat blueberries.

Tanya Agarwal: Eat a vegetable from time to time! Try not to drink everyday and get an early night every once in a while.

Ed Night: Being healthy is for nerds. Though being physically healthy isn’t actually that hard in Edinburgh. I think a lot of us just give into our vices by convincing ourselves that it’s so full-on that we can’t possibly live a normal lifestyle for the month. Or we just give ourselves a free pass to get drunk and eat shit the whole time. Much harder is staying mentally healthy IMO. You just need to remind yourself that your Fringe experience doesn’t dictate your value.

John-Luke Roberts: If you drink, make sure to take a good proportion of days off drinking. Join a swimming pool or a gym and get into a routine of going there – I find it’s great for my mental health as well.

Natano Fa’anana: Eat the greens, man. But also know, it’s the Edinburgh Fringe. So roll with the fun and elation and know that, at least twice you’ll wake up on Arthurs Seat at sunrise!

Susan Harrison: Switch off and have downtime as much as possible. Go for tea and cake with a friend, but don’t talk about your shows. Don’t read reviews – unless you have to! – and where possible get out of town: a little day or afternoon trip to Musselborough can do wonders for the soul. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say!

Jordan & Skinner: VITAMINS! Go on a health kick and eat veggies and fruit. Seriously! Also, remember it’s only a show. Remember why you are doing it. Remember it’s about the quality of the experience you are having as an artist, not about how well your show is doing compared to others.

James Rowland: Ah, you don’t have to go to bed early or avoid chips or not drink, just make sure you’re not being a prick to yourself, and if you’re feeling low, talk to someone as soon as you can.

Andy Field: I wouldn’t know, I nearly die every time. It’s probably quite important that you eat regularly and don’t constantly drink and smoke. As I say, I wouldn’t know for sure if that helps but I reckon it’s a good place to start.

Joz Norris: Well I dunno if ‘healthy’ is the right word, but I lose half a stone every time I do the Fringe purely through stress. So just embrace how incredibly full-on everything is and, while I wouldn’t say it’s GOOD for you, it sort of has a tangible health benefit.

Just These Please: We’d recommend a healthy balanced diet of sweet potato fries, loaded fries and halloumi fries. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle, then probably make a packed lunch and try to drink at least a little bit of water.

Micky Overman: Don’t drink. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Exercise. But yes, no, LOL, as if!

Eric Lampaert: Eat, exercise, wank, wash, sleep, repeat.

Oliver Forsyth: Absolutely no idea. If you find out, tell me!



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