Edinburgh and the rain
The rain featured heavily at this year’s fringe festival, it was everywhere and everyone was talking about it. Bloody rain, doesn’t need to pay PR yet gets front page news and was the word of mouth around town. I saw the rain ruin my favourite Underbelly’s VIP bar The Abattoir. Am sad.
You see it doesn’t matter how many minor royals attended your house party- the Scottish rain will batter you and soak your temporary garden centre for artistic type smokers and it will do it relentlessly until your ceilings bow and pretty girls in tea dresses and men in winged collars and top hats have to sit on a damp chaise lounge. I sat there as the water ran down my sad face near a petrified stuffed fox and wonky piano. It left me with trenchfoot.
It’s Scottish rain, it’s a sign of freedom, it will never stop until we all grow gills.
It also completely soaked the mock Tudor castle pancake/burger area at Gilded Balloon. People sat near a fake English roundhead soldier/archer in his plywood castle (no idea what that has to do with the Gilded Balloon or comedy) and they ate noodles smattered with rain.
It wasn’t fun anymore and nobody could control it.
The BBC Potterow area was drenched, like the Scottish clouds somehow knew that hardly any Scottish comics featured on their big live line up shows in our own capital city and so in one last attempt at sticking two fingers up to the London BBC – it pissed gallons of water on it. Like Salmond himself was standing atop a monstrous inflatable sheep and emptying his giant bladder over the soft southern media types who insist in their blogs that we still eat deep fried mars bars and can’t impregnate a panda.
The rain was awesome this year, am going to even say it was a mark of feminism (just to ensure some click bait).
But this was the year of THE FREE SHOWS.
Finally we witnessed the tremors of tingly fear of losing money from the big venue owners (this sleepless fear is normally assigned to comedians who are brought here by big London Agencies who ensure they are indentured slaves for the next six years as they work off their Edinburgh debt).
Yes some shows sold out fine, the ones with people ‘aff the telly’ and ‘famous and young looking’ did as well as can be expected. But the hundreds of other peripheral shows that prop up the rent/staff charges and are the backbone of the actual artistic end of the fringe (depending on your view) did not get the audience it expected. The FREE SHOWS were there to plug the gap.
The Free Shows were heaving and buckets were full of brown coloured Scottish notes. I went round 7 free shows on a Monday night, they were busy and watched comics rake in £90-£800 on a weekday night.
The BBC Potterow is also a ‘free show’ as it cannot charge for tickets therefore it’s all day events sucked in thousands of people daily to its many shows. Their pay off is “we showcase many artists on the fringe and encourage people to attend shows” yes…but not if you are a Scottish comedian as they rarely had any of my Scottish comedy contemporary’s on -but maybe Scottish people’s licence fee cash isn’t important to BBC? Who knows?
Some canny eagle eyed pundits of the fringe have said that many Scots in this year of referendum went up to The Stand ( a Scottish stalwart on the circuit and all year round Scottish comedy club) and spent their money there, in an act of spending their political pound – whilst they still have it.
I would like to find out if there is any truth in that theory and ask if the ‘other side of town’ got as much rain as the Bristo square area as a backup for the answer.
Me? I don’t think it has anything to do with the referendum. I think for many years the fringe had outgrown its tag as the ‘slightly edgy brother’ to the elitist Edinburgh Festival and now has became too corporate for its own good (this has been said for many years now).
So organically as always happens in the ‘arts’ the FREE SHOWS have spawned their own ‘freedom of expression and free to you’ events and they have award winning comics to back it up.
When I mentioned FREE SHOWS on social media, people got back to me and said things like “I saw great shows and utter crap in the big paid venues but at least in the FREE SHOWS you can decide if you pay for that crap”.
Some big venue owners have hit back with an amazing ‘good question’.
“Well how do we know the comics collecting all that bucket cash are paying tax on it?”
My answer is two fold- if you are worried about the morals of comedians paying tax then make sure you never hire a comic who has a specific tax lawyer on their pay roll. That should salve your tax moral dilemma problems right there.
Secondly, who are you to worry about who is paying tax? Is this your new job?
So there we have it. Tax worries/ ticket worries and rain.
Next year after many years at paid venues I am coming to the fringe with a FREE SHOW.
A few reasons, we already do a podcast and ask for donations every week and the investment from people is amazing. Also I have noticed that my audience over the years are mainly older people (which is cool) with younger folk assuming my comedy is not accessible for them.
The other reason is, I want to support the FREE SHOWS and see how that grows up against the ‘Fringe Festival’. Social media has changed everything, we can let people know where the gig is and even have a paypal link for shows? Who knows?
I think the FREE SHOWS would open me up to a wider age group with younger people taking more of a chance and if you listened to our podcast ‘Janey Godley’s Podcast’ you would know my comedy is ageless and not some cupcake, knitting catalogue of grumpy observations.
So there we have it. Tremors have been felt, next year “we need a new business model for the fringe” is the latest buzz phrase.
I think we need a roof.
So thanks for reading, if you want follow me on twitter @JaneyGodley for updates and daily shenanigans.