So, yesterday I was rushing (oh yes I was) round the edge of Bristo Square to get to a comedy show when this young and rather dodgy-looking bloke came at me. He looked coked-up and aggressive and I thought was going to ask me for money. In fact, he grabbed me strongly by the arm, did not tell me about any show but told me I had to take a flyer for the undescribed and un-named show he was pushing. Apparently I had to take the flyer, I had to touch fists with him and I had to tell him that 100% I was going to go to the show.
This is NOT a good way to flyer for a show in Edinburgh – intimidation only a hair’s breadth away from physical threat – especially when you do not say what the show is.
90 minutes later, I was back in Bristo Square, sitting looking at my iPhone messages, when a voice said: “Have you swapped shirts with Milton Jones?”
It was mild-mannered Italian comic Giacinto Palmieri. He wears horns in his Fringe flyers. We wandered off in search of a cash machine.
On the way, a man flyering for a show handed me a strip of red paper.
“It is just a piece of paper,” he told me. “There is no information on it whatsoever.”
And, indeed, it had nothing written on it.
After a few steps, I turned back and asked: “What’s this all about? Why did you give me a blank piece of paper?”
“Because,” the flyerer said, “I’m flyering for Ben Target and what Ben Target wants, Ben Target gets.”
He then gave me a tiny piece of orange card which, on one side, said HOORAY and, on the other blue side said in small writing:
2pm – 3pm
2nd – 24th
Underneath, in a typeface so tiny it almost needed a magnifying glass, were the words:
a tiny invitation to a huge party
courtesy of Ben Target
Like the earlier, overly-aggressive flyerer, this told me nothing about the show, but was fascinating. Success.
“If I had taken the piece of red paper without coming back,” I asked, “what would you have done?”
“I would,” said the flyerer, “have let you take a blank piece of paper away and be happy for the rest of the day. I told you It’s just a piece of paper. At no point did I say it was a flyer: that would be false advertising. Please don’t drop it because, technically – as it has no information on it – that would be illegal littering.”
“What if I drop a flyer with information on it?” I asked.
“The authorities tend to let that slide,” said the flyerer, “but I think I’m in a grey area.”
At this point, comedian Joz Norris passed by and said: “I have a very similar one to that.”
“What?” I said.
“Your shirt,” said Joz. “I have a blue, flowery, colourful thing. My sister sent it to me as a birthday present from Malaysia and, along with it, I got an alarm clock made out of a Fanta can. They’re very big on recycling in Malaysia. It’s very similar to your one. The shirt. I salute you.”
“There are a lot of sad people around Edinburgh at this time of year,” I told Giacinto.
“I have to go,” said Joz. “I am rushing.”
Because of all these jolly exchanges, I was a little late for my next show – which started at 1.30pm.
As I was rushing along Nicolson Street, a blonde girl held out a flyer which I took.
“Free comedy tonight!” she said.
The flyer was for the show I was seeing in three minutes time – 1.30pm in the afternoon – Valdemar Pustelnik’s My Demons Are Bigger Than Yours!
He was excellent. He is Danish. He wears horns on stage. His flyering was OK. But it was not night time, even in Denmark.
Promoting shows at the Edinburgh Fringe is a delicate balance between in-yer-face yelling and subtle originality.
On sale tomorrow morning around the UK is the latest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. It features nude pictures of performer Juliette Burton.
“I took ALL my clothes off (apart from a flower) to promote my show,” Juliette told me. “And I didn’t even have a say in which pics they used… I can confirm it is definitely not Photoshopped!”
Cosmo headlines their article:
My Amazing Body: How my struggles have made me more confident
An extract is available online. In the magazine, Juliette explains how she struggled with anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphia and compulsive eating – and went from a size 4 to a size 20 in just six months.
That is relevant to her current Edinburgh Fringe Look At Me which looks at how people’s assumptions about other people are often based on externals.
Juliette says she is coming to The Grouchy Club at the Fringe this afternoon. The show is co-hosted by me and The Scotsman’s critic Kate Copstick who, last year, got a lot of flak for what was seen as anti-feminist comments in last year’s chat show.
The opening sequence of Juliette’s Fringe show is on YouTube.