Next Thursday, the Edinburgh Fringe Programme is published.
I have talked to several people in the last few months who said they are not going to list their shows in the Programme this year (largely because of the cost). I have told them they are barking mad.
If you stage a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, it HAS to be in the Programme to get noticed amidst the hundreds of other shows and thousands of other performers.
So imagine my surprise, dear reader, when – yesterday – I arranged to put on a daily show at the Fringe which will NOT be listed in the published Programme.
Back in July 2011, I blogged about the vague idea of setting up a club for comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe catering (as I possibly unwisely phrased it) “not for the VIP top-of-the-billers but for the ordinary riff-raff of comedy”.
Although I did not name him in the blog, I had talked with New York promoter Calvin Wynter about setting up this club and calling it The Gaucho Club or The Grouchy Club – a club for ordinary scum whom London’s Groucho Club would never want to have as members.
It came to nothing because there seemed to be too much work involved in setting it up and running it throughout the Fringe.
But, at the weekend just past, Alex Petty of the Laughing Horse Free Festival had some shows fall through, so some spots became available.
Last year, I hosted five chat shows at the Fringe and I had thought of doing another week of chat shows this year but with no guests as such. The guests – the ‘stars’ – would be the audience.
I strongly believe that, if you go up at random to any person in any bus queue anywhere in the country and start talking to them, they will have the most extraordinarily fascinating tales of things which have happened to them.
Everyone is interesting.
So I thought of having a chat show this year where I simply interviewed the audience.
When the Free Festival said they had some drop-outs, though, I suggested that we could revive the idea of The Grouchy Club – somewhere that comedians could come to drink and gossip. The big venues tend to have their own VIP rooms for performers and press. But there is no general venue where comedians can come in general and bitch about what an awful time they are having at the Fringe.
So, every day, from 2nd to 24th August, at 3.45pm-4.45pm in the Lounge of The Counting House in Edinburgh, doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe comedy reviewers Kate Copstick and I will host an hour long event called The Grouchy Club.
There is even a quickly-cobbled-together-yesterday one-page website plugging it – www.grouchyclub.co.uk
The pitch is:
Kate Copstick (doyenne of Fringe comedy critics) and blogger John Fleming (“The Boswell of the Alternative Comedy scene” – Chortle) host an hour-long chatty club to which all Fringe comedians are invited with any and all bitchy, bizarre and odd anecdotes about the Fringe.
The object is to get even the shortest of publicity mentions in either Copstick’s iconic Sunday newspaper column or John’s increasingly-prestigious daily blog. If members of the public come along with Fringe stories too, fine. Everyone is a star if they have a good story.
Basically, it’s a true storytellers’ schmoozathon with comedians trying to out-do each other to publicise themselves and their shows.
We would have called it The Harpo Club, except no-one would have spoken.
It is The Grouchy Club – you don’t have to be a member to join.
Whether anyone will come along, I do not know. It is the Edinburgh Fringe. Who knows anything about anything?
But it will be a place where performers – mostly comedians, I guess – can come along in a desperate bid to get noticed by Copstick or to get mentioned in my increasingly prestigious daily blog. They can chat, bitch, self-publicise to their hearts’ content and – staying this side of libel – anything they say may be quoted. It is part one-hour social, part schmooze, part (I suspect) one-hour piss-up.
If random members of the public come along, we may revert to my original idea of a chat show in which the audience are the stars.
If no-one at all comes along, then I know Copstick is capable of bitching to me in an entertaining way for a full hour every day for 23 days.
As I mentioned, I have told several people in the last few months that they are barking mad if they stage an event at the Edinburgh Fringe without putting it in the Programme.
We will see if I was right.
The moral, of course, is:
ALWAYS TAKE MY EXCELLENT ADVICE – AND DO WHAT I TELL YOU TO DO, NOT WHAT I DO.