Saturday, 27 August 2016

All's Well That Ends Well - Edinburgh audit

Me, flyering with my characteristic flick (the fingers, not the hair). 10,000 Socks flyers distributed, and the best part of 2000 for The Sitcom Trials (with a little help from my cast)

I may have said this in previous years, in which case forgive me, but I think this has been my most enjoyable Edinburgh Fringe ever. For one reason above all others: I had a good show from the start.

In past years, 2015 in particular, I've had a show that I've not been completely happy with, and that has led to nights when I've come home unhappy and disappointed. But this year (though I still have 3 nights to go, at time of writing) with Socks Do Shakespeare, every night has been good. Some better than others, but all good. It's the first year ever that I've not changed the script since the start of the run. In the past I've moved the running order around, cut sketches and musical numbers. But this month, though I've added some fabulous gags and ad-libs that have grown along the way, I'm still sat behind the set looking at a script dated July 28th, as printed out for our penultimate preview. I've video'd the show 4 times, partly to ensure I got the audience on a good night, but mostly cos a curtain kept falling in front of the lens halfway through the recording. Let's see how it looks when I get round to editing it all.

Not that everyone agreed about the quality of our excellent show. We've had precious few reviews, with one4review giving us 4 stars and, to my slight chagrin, Martin Gray giving us a nice review in the Scotsman which read like a 4 stars but went out with a damned-by-faint-praise 3 stars on it. Broadway Baby, who've given us 5 stars in the past for shows that were not nearly as good as this, gave us a 3 star review from a student whose main complaints seemed to be that we were too popular and people were laughing too much. This, though, is not unfair. I now know what Mrs Browns Boys must feel like. And she was wrong, and I know it, so there. All other reviewers have stayed away, sadly.

Audience numbers have been good. And stunningly consistent. Have a look at this snapshot of my Sales Graph for the last decade. 

You can see that, for our first 4 years (07-10) we built our audiences steadily, culminating in the stellar sales of 2010 when, in a 9.15 time slot, with appearances on the One Show and the Culture Show, an interview in The Scotsman, the Vuvuzela video having gone viral, and lots of 4 and 5 star reviews all in in the first week, we reached peaks we have yet to equal. Then when we returned in 2012 we hit the London Olympics, which decimated everyone's audiences. Since which time, from 2013 to 2016, we have sold almost exactly the same number of tickets every year. A 10.30 time slot every time, no major telly appearances, our reviews appearing late in the run if at all, and with ads in the programme for 2 out of the 4 years (a cost I think I won't bother with in the future), our trajectory on the graph is pretty well identical every time, regressing to the mean of a final figure somewhere in the low 1700s.

Of course one of the novelties of Edinburgh 2016 for me has been The Sitcom Trials final. I last tried it in 2013, hoping to pick up some of the So You Think You're Funny sponsorship money (which the main competition itself then lost, so we never got a sniff of it), and delivered a disappointing show with which no one was very happy. This year I took more control, producing the show myself, and hosting it too, and it went very well. I might even break even on the box office, we'll have to see*. Of course it'll only be worth doing again if I can attract some sort of sponsorship for it, but I'm sufficiently inspired to think I might make a push for that in the autumn.

*UPDATE: When my box office settlement came in October, Sitcom Trials had sold £450 of tickets. Deductions for the Prog entry, venue fee, credit card charges, Fringe fee and technician came to £657.60. I had £238 taken from the Socks total payout. Had I simply done another night of the Socks I'd have had none of those deductions and would have taken at least £450 anyway, which means I'd have been about a thousand quid better off by not doing the Sitcom Trials. Sigh.

Everything else that can go wrong seems (so far, touchwood) not to have. I didn't do art classes during the days, so I haven't lost my voice during the run. Our flat (World's End Close, same place as 2014) is great once more. Mum came to stay with us, there was Bec & Gav's wedding, Hev threw a dinner party for Stephen & Nick and Tim & Hazell, the Socks made guest appearances on BBC Shakespeare, Chortle's Fast Fringe 3 times, Forth at Work and Kids Do Forth On The Fringe, otherwise keeping our powder dry, and during the day Hev & I went to see all the art in town (21 galleries and exhibitions, according to Heather's diary). I met some good folk in the street, comedians and friends, the people you see once a year and have long chats with in the Loft Bar. The selfies will linger, the conversations have long since evaporated.

As for the rest of Edinburgh, the usual things have gone on and have been of note only to the obsessives who are up here. The Edinburgh Comedy Awards went to many of the people we all knew they were going to, and there were ship-in-a-bottle fracases involving Wil Franken, Peter Buckley Hill and others, none of which you'll need to remember when you get home. The weather was largely good (some wind, some rain, but mostly bright sun, especially in the past week) and there were lots of punters around throughout the month (avoiding the week 3 slump that we saw in 2015). 

I am reminded of the Goodies song I Wish I Had Something To Say. I've enjoyed doing my show every night, and that's been what my whole month's been about. That and Hev & I enjoying a holiday. I have work to get back to next week (The Book Of Esther, Clifton Village, and a new commission about loaves and fishes, plus my first few schools) and the only cloud on the horizon is that I've, foolishly (due to my own oversight) agreed to play on the final Monday, the 29th, which is something I've always vowed never to do (since the Sitcom Trials team did it in 2001 and it was the most depressing anticlimax imaginable). So far we've sold 6 tickets. I take great consolation in the conversations I've had, and things I've read online, about acts who've had crowds that small even on regular nights. So, let's just count our blessings and hope we can sail across the finishing line and home.

The plan is still to take 2017 off from the Edinburgh Fringe and discover what the rest of the world has to offer in August (for the first time since 2011). A Socks Do Shakespeare tour in Spring 2017 beckons, if I can get busy with my quill and carrier pigeon and book the damn thing. 

Exeunt, pursued by bear.

2015 Report
2014 Report
2013 Report Part 1 and Part 2
2012 Report
2010 Report
2009 Report

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do Shakespeare every night at 10.30pm at the Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Fringe August 2016. BOOK NOW to avoid disappointment

★★★★★ "Accessible, contemporary and ridiculous" - Brighton Argus May 2016

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...