Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The Edinburgh Fringe Run, 2019

This year we headed to Edinburgh, complete with our cat, excited to be there with our full-run show for the third time. We had new venues and new timings and were unsure what to expect.

In 2018 both Clash of the Tight Tens and First World Problems were based in Espionage, a very central nightclub location that never struggled to attract both passing trade and those who'd sort out the shows specifically. It was also a hub of four rooms with audience often moving from one to another throughout the day, with overspills seeking alternative shows if a room was full. Espionage also had its own guide handed out by staff throughout the run (a creation of the people who owned both it, Cabaret Voltaire and The Three Sisters) which was highly effective.

This year 99 First World Problems was allocated Sofi's Southside, a really nice venue on the edge of town a short walk from Laughing Horse's Counting House complex and the paid fringe on Bristo Sqaure and Georges Gardens. However, being almost entirely without passing trade and a function room above a bar, we'd be warned off from going there by several acts who'd experienced very low numbers.

Clash of the Tight Tens had been allocated Espionage but the venue experienced structural issues when a hotel started to be built next to it. As a result all shows in the venue had to move and the show ended up in an adopted storage room at Cabaret Voltaire.  The guide had already gone to print so the address was wrong in there but the app was updated so I crossed my fingers it wouldn't matter too much.

The Numbers

Compared to 2018, both shows attracted less people. In 99FWP case this can be put down to the location and the fact we took 3 Tuesdays off (compared to no days off last year). With CotTT it can be attributed to the change in venue and fierce competition on a short street with no less than 10 other rooms running at the same time (PBH's Carnivore, two Monkey Barrel rooms, Just The Tonic's new space, 3 rooms at Laughing Horse's City Cafe and the other 3 rooms in Cabaret Voltaire).

The money didn't follow the same trend for our main show though. First World Problems at Espionage last year made  £1,217 from 628 people (£1.94 per person) whilst 99 First World Problems at Sofi's Southside made £1,232.50 from 477 people (£2.58 per person.) The 2018 show attracted an average attendance of 25 whilst the 2019 show averaged 22. The difference being though that this year everyone there had planned to come and were committed from the start, there was no element of passing trade - unlike Espionage. This was further proven by the fact we didn't have a single walk-out the entire run. We made more money with less people across less days - which we'll certainly take as a positive.

Clash of the Tight Tens fared worse. In 2018, 749 people watched the show and donated a total of £1,476 (an average of £1.97 per person). In 2019 this went down to 517 people donating £1,186 (an average of £2.29). Per person this is obviously an improvement but it didn't compensate for the reduced numbers. In this case I'd suggest per-person donations were better because there were less people in the room and therefore the feeling of responsibility to donate was higher.  


As far as 99FWP was concerned, flyering was utterly pointless. Having asked people everyday what had made them come to the show the main answers were, in this order:

1. Found it on the guide/app when looking for a musical comedy show.
2. Found it on the guide/app when looking for something suitable for 12+ / clean.
3. Saw us last year and looked us up.
4. Using the app, found it to be right time / right place relating to other shows.
5. Recommended by a friend.

Next year, depending on the location, there's a good argument for us to print 1,000 flyers (to give out mainly at guest spots) and 20 posters for our main show - rather than the 5,000 / 100 that is standard.

Clash of the Tight Tens did benefit from flyering but the majority of people still came because they'd seen it in the app and it fitted their plans and/or it was rated 12+.

What we gained

We enjoy doing Edinburgh because we love performing to audiences who are on our wavelength. The Fringe is an exciting place to be and we saw plenty of good shows and caught up with plenty of people we hadn't seen for ages. We received a couple of reviews from which we can pick out a few good quotes for the future and had plenty of lovely feedback from those who watched us. I got to try out a few new ideas during the run which we'll integrate into next year's show and I've also been inspired to write and perform a second, more intimate, show to complement FWP (or whatever, we choose to rename it in these woke times) - possibly in preference to a showcase.

Lessons learned

A unique selling point and/or a catchy title is far more important than flyering. Clean musical comedy you interact with is our niche. If that doesn't sound like your kind of thing that's fine - we've found that there are plenty of others who do. 

Accommodation pricing is eye-watering and the earlier you can book, the better. Consider staying further out. We were over 2 miles from the centre of the city but the Just Eat bicycles (similar to London's Boris Bikes) made it a quick and easy journey.

Reviews aren't as important as reviewers would like to think they are - but if you get a good one it's always nice to have.


We'd like to thank Alex and the rest of the crew at Laughing Horse, particularly for their efforts in finding Tight Tens a new home when Espionage when kaputt. The staff at Sofi's Southside and Cabaret Voltaire, who were always happy and helpful. All the acts who did spots at Clash of the Tight Tens and consistently made it a quality hour. All the acts who I either had a beer, coffee or sandwich with at some point. Dave Nattris, Peter Merritt, Tom Short, Paul Richards (apologies for not making it twice) and Aaron Levene for the guest spots. Andy Onions for being an all round superstar buddy to both of us and Marvin McCarthy for being the only act aside from Onions to come and watch our show!

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