The 2013 Edinburgh Fringe: Why one British comedian will not perform there

Thoughts on performing at the Edinburgh Fringe

Thoughts beyond a Malcolm Hardee Award (Photograph by Peter Kelly)

Going to the Edinburgh Fringe every August is addictive, like attending the Glastonbury Festival in June or buggering badgers in season.

Success at the Fringe can also almost overnight change the life of a performer, from someone who can’t fill a toilet with an audience to someone who has his or her own TV series and can fill arenas.

Yesterday I was talking to someone about staging extra shows at the Fringe in addition to the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

But I also received an e-mail from a young-ish British comedian who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

He or she has performed their own show at the Edinburgh Fringe before and he or she would like to perform again.

I think he or she should perform there again this year.

For one thing, it would be silly to forego the chance of winning an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award (never knowingly under-promoted).

But this is what he or she told me:


I’ve been thinking long and hard about going back to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

I genuinely believe that my style of performance does not suit itself to the Free Fringe or to the Free Festival. My show is a grower, not something that can really be dipped in and out of. Having done it once before, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t work in that format.

The Xxxxxxxx venue was fun last year, but it’s mostly theatre and doesn’t feel appropriate either.

That leaves the big four venues which, based on similar figures from last year, upgraded for the higher ticket price and hopefully higher footfall, would leave me with a loss of over £4,000.

This also means that it is impossible for me to take what I would consider any form of risk. That’s the biggest shame. Everything either has to be by a household name or sustain a laugh a minute otherwise it won’t succeed.

I genuinely feel that unless you are bankrolled by the Bank of Mum and Dad, it’s becoming almost impossible to do anything someone could tritely call ‘different.’ This works to the detriment of comedy and performance as a whole.

Maybe the idea is to try and get an agent. Unfortunately if you have even a modicum of talent, they will seek to water it down so you can appear on *insert TV panel show here*.

The Edinburgh Fringe is unique in that it lets self-indulgent idiots like myself a full hour to vent and express our comedic chops but, when it’s impossible NOT to lose thousands upon thousands of pounds, I struggle to see where a provincial act like myself can find anything that resembles the so-called big break.

For that matter, even a little break would do.



Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour

2 responses to “The 2013 Edinburgh Fringe: Why one British comedian will not perform there

  1. Some of the free venues are excellent. Chris Dangerfield’s show last year was excellent and had a committed, engaged audience in an atmospheric venue – not the stream of disinterested punters getting out of the rain for five minutes that people might imagine a free venue to suffer from.
    Also, four grand isn’t that much. Most comedians aren’t bankrolled by mum and dad, they work for a living. Apart from lack of sleep, comedy and day job can coexist fairly happily.

  2. Cheers Leo – Chris Dangerfield was in the Alternative Fringe – now renamed Heroes of Fringe for 2013…
    I am a little biased but I think we are the most Comedian Friendly promoters on the Fringe and are proof that acts can have a great venue and production with great audiences without shelling out for the Pay To Play promoters.

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