Thursday, 18 August 2016

Hump Day - a record-breaker

The Socks' costume for Richard III, which has been getting great audience responses, and led to some lovely adlibs (which you'll hopefully see when we get a good video of the show). And I had cause to tweet the photo of him today when I saw people referring to this as Hump Day.

Turns out Hump Day is a thing people with 9-to-5 jobs get every week, apparently, and just refers to it being the middle of the week. Here, in the middle of the middle week in Edinburgh, it finally became a reality for me as I started the day staring at my worst sales figures for this particular day... EVER!

Yes, even in our opening year of 2007 we did better on this day than how things started this year. I woke up looking at sales of 17. Now I know some people would kill for sales of 17. I know that because I indulged in a little schadenfreude by reading and retweeting this story first thing in the morning.

Stepping before an audience the size of a football team must make every comic’s soul shrivel – and the experience is no less agonising for those watching
An audience of 6 for an award winning comedian. That makes you feel a bit better about your own show. Until you realise, wait a minute, he's getting written up in the Guardian and you're not!

Still, flyering was bound to be able to remedy the situation. Anyone who's talked to me about Edinburgh for even five minutes will know of Kev F's Theory of Flyering™. I even put it to the test, with a modicum of statistical analysis, last year and it seems to possibly hold true. In short, 100 flyers, if well handed-out, should result in ten bums on seats. And I do about 100 flyers in an hour. So, today I should have been able to improve on that 17 bums on seats figure, shouldn't I? I hit the Royal Mile.

It was a lovely day on the Royal Mile, it was hot, it was sunny, and by god it was busy. But the paradox of Edinburgh is that that means it was hard-going and most likely fruitless flyering territory. For, though you can get a lot of flyers into the hands of a lot of people, what you soon realise is that the vast majority of them are Tattooies (people only going to the Tattoo and nothing else) or foreign tourists by the busload, who have English as maybe a second language if you're lucky. Most of the people thronging the Royal Mile, if not students in costume and fellow flyerers, are not even aware that there is such a thing as the Edinburgh Fringe taking place, and they are going to unlikely or unable to see any shows of any sort, let alone one at 10.30pm (when, as I am told innumerable times, they will be at home in bed, or at the Tattoo).

So I flyered mostly in the stretch that links the Pleasance Dome to the Assembly and Udderbelly Gardens in George Square, and passes my own venue The Gilded Balloon. A steady flow of lovely people, mostly happy to take a flyer, and most very clearly Fringe-goers. I flyered. And I flyered. From midday till 1.30. Then I had a meeting from 3 till 4 with a producer who's writing a thesis on the Fringe (about which more anon). Then from 4 till 5.30. Then the Socks played another 3 minute slot at Chortle's Fast Fringe, after which I did some of the most feel-good exit-flyering - handing a flyer to almost every member of a capacity audience who had just watched us being funny (they got the Hose routine and the Dog's Cock routine from Socks Do Shakespeare). Then I flyered from 6.45 till 8.15 and came home. Four and a half hours of solid, and good quality, flyering. Kev F's Theory of Flyering™says that should have turned into 45 extra bums on seats.

So we did the show, and it was a fun show. Well, I enjoyed it. I saw at the end that my good friend Martin was in. If he was reviewing us, as he has done before, I really hope he enjoyed it too. Because the occasional lack of audience volume may have been a factor that brought down the feeling of funniness. We ended up with 22 paying customers. Yes, nearly 5 hours of flyering had added just 5 ticket sales to the pile. Making Wednesday August 17th 2016 officially our worst selling middle-week Wednesday ever!

In 2012 (the famous Olympic year) it had been the Tuesday which had seen the slump, to a decade's low of 19. (Not since 2008 had any night of any Socks show ever dipped below 20, and to date it hasn't since, save for that one Olympic Tuesday in 2012). But even that year outsold us on the midweek Wednesday, getting 35 in. 2007's opening year had achieved 43 on this day, and 2008 reeled in 56. We didn't do badly for 2013, '14 and '15, with 45, 45 and 54. And the glory years of '09 and '10 (where we had lots of telly, and all our great reviews came in on the opening week) saw mid-run Wednesday houses of 76 and 84 respectively.

So it is that yesterday stands out on our sales graph as an inglorious historical anomaly. And knocks Kev F's Theory of Flyering™ into a cocked hat of statistical irrelevance. Added to which, on the two days this year where I did no flyering at all (Friday and Saturday) we've had total 100% sellouts. It's almost as if, in the Edinburgh Fringe, nobody knows anything!

Today (Thursday) sales are back in the area they should be*, and Friday and Saturday are on course to the sellout zone. Next week? We'll face that when it comes, says he remembering that, in 2015, Week Three turned out to be a whole new slump all of its own. All in all I'm feeling good, the show is still great, and if there is any word of mouth being passed on, I'm confident it'll all be good. As for the photo the Socks tweeted after we'd got home and counted up the numbers? Here it is (shot earlier in the week in St Andrews Square).

*UPDATE: Thursday night. I chose to spend most of the day doing art galleries and the like, and only managed 45 minutes of flyering. Sales went from starting the day at 33 to a final score of 58. So on Wednesday 5 hours flyering equals 5 tickets, the next day 45 minutes flyering equals 25 tickets. There is no logic to this game.

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

Aug 3 - 29 - 10.30pm The Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe 

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