Edinburgh Festival Fringe: telling it like it is

THE only thing bigger than the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the internet, which top scientists estimate is now 7.6 times bigger than the universe. This means, despite doing loads of research for The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide, I have only now come across two blogs that would have fed into the book very nicely.

The first of these is In the Name of the Flesh, a record of Ernesto Sarezale’s time on the Fringe of 2010. Sarezale describes himself as “a Basque cognitive scientist, published poet, performer, stand-up and cabaret act, and video artist living in London” and performed his show, In the Name of the Flesh, at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street as part of the PBH Free Fringe.

If you dig back to his earliest posts, you’ll find standard publicity info about the show, but then from this post about the first performance, you start to get a flavour of what the whole wild experience is really like. This remark is typical:

It was nerve wracking to have to get the bar staff to assist me with the video connections. Especially when I left briefly for the toilet and found a queue of punters waiting outside to see my show!

From then on, mixed in with his comments on other shows that he’s been seeing – themselves revelatory about the eclectic mix the Fringe offers – he gives updates on the show’s progress and its variations from performance to performance: one post is even called “Every night is different“. 

Sarezaleis honest about lessons learned along the way, such as the realisation that it might have been better to list the show as theatre and not comedy in the Fringe Programme. Anyone thinking of appearing on the Fringe for the first time would do well to cast their eye over his“15 (or so) lessons learnt at the Edinburgh Fringe 2010” (he gets extra points for linking to an article I wrote). 

His post-Fringe comments are particularly good, being frank but not cynical, and giving a clear sense of the battering and the exhilaration you can get from a run in Edinburgh. Rather charmingly, in “Was it worth it?” he puts the lows in a tiny point size and the highs nice and big. 

Still in reflective mode, his very latest post, from just the other day, looks back on what he wanted from his Fringe run and what has happened to him since; as the penultimate chapter of my book suggests, the Fringe stays with you long after the final curtain.

Then last year, Sophie Caswell blogged about her experience bringingto Edinburgh a show calledI Know What You’re Thinking by her mind-reading partner Doug Segal. Her Fringe Trimmings blog starts with details of the earliest marketing campaign, then after a couple of updates, pauses for a few days because the pace, in her own words, is “f**king frantic“. 

As withSarezale’s blog, it’s the reflective posts that give much of the flavour, whether it’s “My top 10 Ed Fringe moments“, capturing the craziness of it all, or “Farewell Edinburgh, you sexy sexy beast” admitting how hard it is to say goodbye.

Then in “Come to Edinburgh where the streets are paved with opportunity“, she reveals how the show was spotted by a comedy promoter, leading to a return trip in 2012:

Edfringe is like playing SuperMario you have to leap over a lot of barrels to get to the boss fight at the end, by which time you’re exhausted – but if you win, you get to the next level…. and that next level has totally different challenges … and
comes under the category of ‘uber-exciting-scary and even harder work’.

Naturally, as every good social networker knows, this can only mean one thing: a new blog, this one called Further Up the Fringe. Watch that space.

I’m sure there are many similar blogs out there – do tell me if you know of any good ones. There’s also one promised by magician Ian Kendall who told me when I met him the other day that he had a 21-year track record on the Edinburgh Fringe and had never lost money. If he really “can’t get [his] bahookie in gear,”  as he said in a recent tweet, that’d be a great place to start.

2 Replies to “Edinburgh Festival Fringe: telling it like it is”

  1. Hi Mark,

    These are the details for my blog.

    There's how to articles on show production, lots of photos, and interviews both with critics from the festival and comedians plus a few promoters.

    Good luck with the book,


  2. Thanks, Ian. Now I come to think of it, I did see your interviews as you were publishing them last year. Good stuff. I've downloaded your book onto my wife's Kindle – I'll have to wait till she's not reading something before I can read it.

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