Monday, 9 August 2010

Comedy In The Dark and a Judge In A Quiet Room

Last night at the Fringe was a good demonstration of my optimism and how sometimes it can overstretch itself. I said yes to two things, one good, one not so good.

The good thing was Comedy In The Dark, at 11.45 at night, a show where comedians perform in a completely darkened room, with even the exit lights covered up. An interesting concept that is raising money and awareness for ecological charities, and a novel one for the audiences. The other acts went well (especially Rob Rouse, who'd have you in stitches if you were only overhearing him from another room, which this experience is a lot like). For the Socks, however, it was a test of something we've long wondered about, namely how does our act work if you can't actually see us?

It turns out the Socks are very visual. So the opening sock went well, but towards its end when the Socks start bickering it started to become clear that, if you can't see which Sock is talking and which Sock is reacting. it gets confusing. Then the Halloween routine, about the safest guaranteed hit routine we have, fell flat for that same reason. The audience either couldn't follow who was talking, or without the looks, the props, the visual extras, the routine lost so much of its structure as to be just a bit, well, unfunny. Walk On The Wild Side got laughs, only being performed by one sock, and Sweary Poppins also worked, but not as well as it would have done if the sketch had worked. So I was disappointed, because I like people laughing at everything all the time, but the organisers liked it and we started discussing doing it again, and doing a photoshoot for participants tomorrow. Meanwhile the Socks' radio show needs a lot more thinking through.

Before that came the thing I shouldn't have said yes to. I had known in advance that sales for Sunday were low. After 3 sellouts out of four, and with Monday & Tuesday already nearly sold out, I could see this night was going to struggle sales wise. So I'd told my venue in advance that I didn't want any Press in. But I got an email in the morning saying an Edinburgh Comedy Awards Judge wanted to come to my show, expressly tonight Sunday. Would I let them in? And this is where my optimism got the better of me. I had such faith in my flyering technique and my chutzpah and selling skills on the street that I thought that, if I said yes to the Comedy Judge, then that would spur me on to sell sell sell and we'd end up with a full house and another great show. So I said yes to the Judge.

I then flyered for longer than I have on any day so far this Fringe, and by showtime had added little more than a dozen sales to the piddling figure I'd started the day with. The Socks ended up performing to 37 people, the smallest Edinburgh audience we've played to since 2008. No show last year sold as badly as last night's show. And, as a result, there was a lot less laughter, even though they were enjoying the show it simply didn't explode like it has been doing. And as a result of that we even under-ran. It turns out almost 10 minutes of our show is laughter! We stuck in an extra 2 minutes from last year's show just to give them their money's worth. So the audience went away happy, but I didn't, and I can be pretty sure a Comedy Award Nomination will not be coming the Socks way (not that it was on the cards following last year's whole "slagging off the comedy award judges in the press" debacle, about which least said soonest mended read all about it here).

Afterwards I had my first good night in the Loft Bar, inc good chats with Tim Vine, Jobbins, Klarfeld, Ali Cook & team, and got to meet Kirstie who booked a lot of Ali & my tour this year for the first time (that wasn't a well constructed sentence was it? but I know what I mean and you don't care).

My low sales were, apparently, not unusual with a lot of acts reporting a Sunday dip. I learnt, from an Avalon flyerer, that one of Avalon's acts (who will, obviously remain nameless) performed, in a Pleasance Courtyard venue, on Saturday night, to an audience of four. FOUR!?!??!?? I don't know how that can physically conceivably actually humanly be possible. Surely in the Pleasance Courtyard you're going to end up with an audience just by accident cos they can't get into a show they've heard of, or they're looking for the loo. But 4 people? At about the same time slot as I was getting a sellout in? And promoted by the biggest comedy agency in the country? That did indeed make me feel a little bit better. Because schadenfreude is a wholly admirable emotion and doesn't make me a bad person shut your face.

Today I need to flyer to get the rest of the week's sales up the levels we need. And it's pouring with rain. Hallelujah.

Edinburgh Fringe 2010: 9.15pm 4-29 August, Gilded Balloon

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