Publicity is difficult at the Edinburgh Fringe. Acts hand out flyers to people in the street. And try to get articles and photos in the press.
Two days ago, I went to a photoshoot for clowns performing at the Fringe. Apart from the clowns, I was the only person there.
Yesterday, on my way to the Grouchy Club, I had a chat with ever jolly japester Joz Norris who told me about a photoshoot held two days ago for clowns performing at the Fringe.
These were two separate photoshoots. Clowns should talk to each other more.
The one I went to involved clowns sitting on a taxi and running through it as if they were all coming of it.
“What was the one you went to like?” I asked Joz.
“The idea,” he told me, “was to see how many clowns we could fit in a car. There was supposed to be loads of press interest with loads of photographers but, when we turned up, there was nobody. Only about four of us bothered to turn up, so the answer to the question How many clowns can you fit into a car? was The normal number – four. We grabbed some random flyerers in beekeepers’ outfits and got a man in dressed as a tent and pressed our faces against the glass.”
“I went to the other one,” I said, “and I think I was the only non-clown there. People just looked at me as being a bit under-dressed.”
“Did you wear one of your bright shirts?” asked Joz.
“I was still out-coloured,” I admitted.
There is a video on YouTube of Joz’s clown video shoot
At the Grouchy Club yesterday, extraordinarily OTT New Zealand Maori cabaret act Mika was reunited with Scotsman critic Kate Copstick, who saw and raved about his show around a decade ago and has emotionally never been the same since.
Mika told her: “I’ve brought a show here this year – Salon Mika – because I’m going to make it into a feature film.”
Bizarrely, the New Zealand Arts Council did not fund his trip to Edinburgh. All the acts they funded were white non-Maoris. But Mika’s show has already got a 5-star review and – surely only by coincidence – Mika told us: “The entire Arts Council of New Zealand and the Minister are meeting me a 5 o’clock tonight, here in Edinburgh.”
Mika was strangely not really complaining; he was more bemused.
Bemusement is not something common in Scotland. But protesting is. Though badly.
Copstick pointed out: “Scotland doesn’t do protesting very well. We have all-purpose Scottish Labour Party moaners. You get the feeling they’re just professionally disgruntled moany Scottish people waiting for the next protest to come along.
“On one of the first days of the Fringe, there was a big group of them outside the Gilded Balloon protesting about an Israeli play that wasn’t even on there. It was on at the Underbelly.
“I went and said to them: Do you know you’re outside the wrong venue? Plus, if you’re really smart, you would stop with the moaning and the shouting that nobody can make out because you’re all broad Glaswegians and most of the people walking past have no idea what you’re saying. Play nice, get near the upside-down inflatable cow, get somebody with a knife and puncture it. I did not think that would escalate anything.”
At this point, Miss Behave walked in and took her shirt off.
You had to be there to understand.
She is co-running nearby venue Bob and Miss Behave’s Bookshop as well as putting on her own show.
“I have,” she told us, “been Mrs Cabaret for a really long time, wandering round being very slick, so this year I’m doing a very silly game show – Miss Behave Gameshow – involving mobile phones.
“I have a wonderful assistant – Harriet – and he is becoming the star of the show. He is wonderful. It’s very silly and fun. I’m starting with an idea, it’s evolving and, by the end of this month, it will be absolutely amazing. At the moment, it is an exciting, fun work in progress, very entertaining.”
At this point, multi-award-winning Adrienne Truscott arrived. As well as winning the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award for her solo show last year (and some lesser Edinburgh prizes), she is half of the Wau Wau Sisters.
“Stand on your head!” I said.
“No,” said Miss Behave. “You have to leave her alone. She’s got a bad back.”
“I,” said Copstick, “have been dangled upside-down on a trapeze by the Wau Wau Sisters.”
“What are you doing this year?” I asked.
“The Wau Wau Sisters’ Death Threats (and Other Forms of Flattery),” said Adrienne, “about doing a show that got death threats from religious fundamentalists. They sent us three letters and we had to do our whole show with armed guards in the house.”
“Moslems?” someone asked.
“No,” said Adrienne, “We had done a show which was a very cheap re-interpretation of the Last Supper.”
The Grouchy Club did not live up to its name yesterday. Everyone seemed to be laughing rather than being grouchy.
But then I went over to Niddry Street, home of what seems like a hundred free venues, and I bumped into Lewis Schaffer and two of his entourage. I occasionally get text messages from Lewis Schaffer saying simply: Mood black.
I tried sending him a text message once saying: Mood black – to see what his reaction was. He never replied.
His main entourage – Heather Stevens – continues to spend most of her time with her face in her hands. This is understandable.
But he seems to have rebranded another of his entourage – Blanche Cameron – as his personal stalker with a naked picture of himself across her bosoms.
To cheer myself up, I chatted to Chris Dangerfield, who was out on the cobbles promoting his show Sex With Children to innocent passers-by.
“I got here yesterday,” he told me. “My posters had gone missing. No posters, no flyers. Ten minutes before my first show, I was about to cancel it. Suddenly, sixty people turned up. I took £120.”
At this point a happy-looking couple approached.
“When you’ve finished with the show you wanna see,” Chris told them, “come and see Sex With Children.”
They looked slightly startled.
“Look!” he told them. “You can put a little penis on the flyer!”
He has flyers with a full-length photo of a man. They have a hole at groin level just big enough to put through and wiggle your little finger.
“There you are,” he told the couple. “Nine o’clock – in there – Sex With Children. You’ll love it.”
At this point – and this is true – I noticed the anonymous flyerer about whom I blogged two days ago.
At that point, he was handing out strips of blank paper to publicise Ben Target’s show.
Yesterday, he told me: “I’m flyering for ACMS (the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society). It involves me standing with a cardboard box over my head and holding up a sign that says FLYER so people can take their own flyers. I do it for two hours every day and can’t see anyone who takes the flyers because I have my head in a box. But I am sure they’re the right people for the show.
“With ACMS, we also exit flyer them. As they leave, we give them flyers for the show they’re just.seen.”
“I admire originality,” I said.