Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

Advice for Fringe Performers


Free Fringe Performers: It’s called the “Free” Fringe. Not the “Here’s My Bucket Speech” Fringe. 

I got put off going to the Free Fringe because of the continual haranguing of the audience at the end of each show. Stop bullying your audience. Stop embarrassing them into paying more than they want to. Did you ever think they might have chosen a “Free” Fringe show because they don’t have £10 to spend? The Free Fringe is a beautiful idea being spoilt by greed. I’ve got more respect for a pickpocket.

If you ARE going to do a speech about “how expensive it is to come to the Fringe…” and how your show is “just as good as the ones in the main venues, so you should put £10 in the collection bucket” then please, please, PLEASE tell your flyer team to stop saying, “Do you want to see some free comedy?” as they hand out your leaflets. Have them say, “This free show will cost you £10. Or you could go to the 1/2 price hut and get a £5 ticket to see a proper comedian.”

And please declare the bucket money. Pay your taxes. Help support schools, hospitals, libraries, streetlights, etc. 

Hack Comedy: Did one of your flyer team hand you a copy of your own leaflet? That happens. It always has. It always will. Flyer teams are usually students. They don’t know you. And you look different in the street. If it happens and you tell that story to your audience, you’re a HACK.

Themed Shows: It’s your show, do whatever you want. Unfortunately, I have a short attention span. I think I have a reputation of being a nice person on the comedy circuit (?) but I really don’t give a shit about your bicycle trip across Norfolk or your recent mental breakdown*. Why can’t your theme be “just being funny for 60 minutes”?

(*Except Harriet Dyer, who is very funny and properly mental.)

Shows With A Message: Please don’t ruin my night out by being all deep and meaningful and trying to teach me something in the last ten minutes of your show. If I wanted to discover how to love myself and others more, there are plenty of inspirational Facebook memes doing the rounds that I can just as easily ignore whilst drinking wine in a pub across the road from your venue…

Fake Confidence: Audiences can be charmed by the energy and enthusiasm of a newer comic, they know some performers are at the beginnings of their career, that’s the spirit of the Fringe. A little self awareness on behalf of the performer can go a long way to getting that audience on board. Don’t try and fake confidence or put on false bravado.

Crying On Stage: Critics think this is deep, meaningful comedy. Even though the performer does it every night in the exact same point of their show. Personally, I don’t think it’s great comedy BUT I do think it’s great acting.

Free Badges: No! Fuck off! You are not St Pauli, The Ramones or The SNP. If you want me to wear your shitty badge and advertise your show, pay me £12 per hour.

Big Posters: Big posters are for your ego and for your agent. Unless you are playing a 300-seat venue, they are a complete waste of money. Look around, it’s visual white noise. Stop destroying the rainforests!

Trams: Lots of people hate them. I just hate the hack jokes about them that only make sense to people who’ve lived in Edinburgh for seven years. Comedians, be more original, write new stuff and don’t assume everyone knows about roadworks from years ago. Personally, I love the trams. You can get one from the airport right to my venue.

Love Your Audience: Try not to tell stories about gigs you’ve done. Or what witty thing someone in the audience said at another gig. It’s like bragging to your partner about other people you’ve had sex with. Love the audience you’re with, make them feel special.

Your Show: Write a show you love, and you’ll love doing it to a full room, or to one man and his dog.

Feeling Lonely: If, at any point, you feel sad, lonely or depressed – that is completely normal, that’s the festival experience. Talk to another comic, don’t suffer alone. Just know that it will pass, Edinburgh can be an emotional rollercoaster. You are NOT a failure. Well, some of you are…

Sleep: Get plenty sleep. Contrary to popular belief your career will not be advanced by hanging around The Loft Bar at 3 in the morning.

Paternal Encouragement: Audiences listen because they are polite. It’s not necessarily because the performer is a great “storyteller”. Some people at the Fringe have had too much parental encouragement.

And finally…

Comedy Reviewers/Critics: I like the new ones. I like the independent magazines. They’re not full of their own self-importance. They want to have a good time.

I have absolutely NO respect for the *name* reviewers. They have an ulterior motive. They want to show how clever they are. They want to show they “understand comedy at a deeper level”. It would be interesting to see some of them put their knowledge to the test and actually take to the stage. They never will, of course. That’s probably for the best, because I’ve met every single one of them and none of them have ever made me laugh in conversation. Actually, Steve Bennett from Chortle makes me laugh. But for all the wrong reasons.

Biting The Hand That Feeds You: The media does not feed you. The audience feeds you. Never forget that. Respect them. And respect The Art.

Jo Caulfield: Voodoo Doll is @ The Stand, Edinburgh, from Fri 2 Aug – Sun 25 Aug (not 12, 19) @ 19:40