It’s all over for yet another year and the newspapers are still reporting on the ‘down turn’ of the ticket sales and problems with the ticket box office. Even the good old Scottish weather has become a feature in itself. The splashing showers got more attention and reviews than some heavily financed shows this year.
My own personal look back at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is wonderfully optimistic. Despite all the gloomy news about the slump in ticket sales, I had my best year ever.
Some reviews of my show were less than favourable, yet I sold 60% more tickets this year than any other. Which makes me wonder if the reviews do sell the shows?
When I got a host of four and five star reviews back in 2006 and 2007 I was playing to fifteen people a night. This year my lowest audience was 90 punters.
So what does make the show a success? Is it the word on the street? Early press and features? Is it the gritty hard working Flyering team or just a plain determination to keep going and giving your audience a show they like? I am not totally sure.
A few things were rather disconcerting for me this year. One being the sheer amount of papering the rooms with free tickets and two-for-ones right up until the last day, this kind of marketing devalues the shows that depend on money coming through the door.
Luckily many punters who come to the Fringe have come to realise that the ‘Free shows’ are already catered for on Peter Buckley Hill’s and Alex Petty Free shows already. I fully support both of their ideals and understand that they are a great way for fresh comics testing the Fringe waters and I hope they grow throughout the years. What I find upsetting is the ‘Big Four Venues’ giving away free tickets when I am in the same venue as a show that will gladly throw the tickets to anyone who will grab them.
I believe punters will feel aggrieved at having to pay £11 for a ticket when they have gotten used to hanging around some shows that will simply give them tickets at the door to get the bums on seats. I can understand that papering rooms is acceptable for the first few days and previews. I myself did two-for –ones on the first three days. After that, it’s cash only.
I have never papered rooms at the Fringe, not even when I first did my one woman show in 2002. I would rather play to six committed punters than 40 people who really didn’t want to be there. Though that it my own personal view.
My biggest gripe with this year’s Fringe Festival was the oddly awarded If.Com Award for Panel Prize. It is usually awarded to people or a show that are deemed the ‘spirit of the Fringe’ and this year the money and title went to ALL comedians who performed in Edinburgh. Apparently there was a free bar on the 25th of August. I didn’t bother to turn up, as I don’t really drink and didn’t agree with their choice.
I believe the Spirit of The Fringe should have gone to Peter Buckley Hill. A man who has been coming to the Fringe for at least a hundred years, supporting comedy, initiating the Free shows, showcasing comics and just being a jolly old stalwart that personifies the bonhomie of The Royal Mile.
I can’t even begin to believe that the If.Com panel found it hard to pick one person for that award, despite their protests I believe something seriously went wrong or some sort of controversy went down at that final meeting. How hard would it be to pick someone? Isn’t that their job?
At least all the comics on the Fringe can now have the If.Com logo on their posters next year; after all we did all win the prize collectively.
Well done to all who braved the rain, the ticket system fiasco and the seemingly low attendance numbers just to perform at the biggest arts festival in the world. I hope it was worth it._