As I have mentioned here before, I am a bit dubious about Bob Slayer’s new idea. His two Heroes of Fringe venues this year come under the umbrella of the Free Festival, but you can buy £5 advance tickets for some of their shows.
The whole idea of the Free Fringe and the Free Festival is bizarre enough to begin with… The audience does not pay to get in but they can pay as much money as they think the show was worth on the way out (or not pay anything if they thought it was worth nothing). In effect, it is indoor busking.
This year, Bob Slayer’s two venues – The Hive and his new Bob’s Bookshop – will have shows following the ‘Free’ principle of not charging admission… You just turn up, go into the venue, see the show and then decide how much to pay, if anything…
But you can also buy a £5 ticket in advance which guarantees you a seat. He calls this Pay-What-You-Want.
His original idea was that you could pay as much as you wanted in advance, but that uncertainty was too much for the Fringe Box Office system.
I think the original ‘Free’ format is confusing enough already without adding in another layer of confusion. When I blogged about this before, Bob got a bit grumpy and had a rant.
But that, of course, hasn’t stopped me joining up. Other shows at Bob’s Bookshop include Miss Behave, Phil Kay, Mr Methane, Patrick Monahan and the Sun’s former comedy columnist Tommy Holgate – plus Janey Godley, Tony Law, Glenn Wool et al passing through.
My annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show will be staged, as usual, in the ballroom of The Counting House in Edinburgh as part of the Free Festival under the ‘normal’ system where you pay as much as you want on the way out (and, in this case, 100% of the money will go to charity with no deductions). That happens on the evening of Friday 23rd August.
But my five Fringe shows snappily titled Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! So It Goes – John Fleming’s Comedy Blog Chat Show will be staged in Bob’s Bookshop under the Pay-What-You-Want system and, from last night, you can pay £5 in advance online to buy a ticket and guarantee entry. The shows will run Monday 19th to Friday 23rd August.
As I understand it, the capacity of the main room at Bob’s Bookshop is 40 people and – of course – demand will be high with people like Lord Lucan, Keyser Söze and James ‘Harvey’ Stewart attending, so I recommend booking early.
I have no idea who is going to be on the show, of course. I will be booking people after the Fringe Programme is published on 30th May and I know who is actually going to be in town. But a regular guest should be The Scotsman’s Kate Copstick: doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers, a regular in this blog and a woman for whom the phrase acid-tongued is too bland. She tells me she will recommend the best and rip into the worst Edinburgh shows and, knowing her as I do, I imagine she will have some potentially libellous daily gossip.
That is unless she has money thrown at her to do something better.
But what could be better?
My chat shows, unlike the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show, are not for charity but I will presumably make a loss because – hey! – it’s the Edinburgh Fringe and, if you can’t take a joke at your own expense, there is no point going.