EP 54 – Karen Koren – Founder of the Gilded Balloon

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

EP 54 – Karen Koren – Founder of the Gilded Balloon


Total run time: 1 hour 18 mins 10 secs.

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About Karen Koren…

Karen Koren (@KarenKoren) founded the Gilded Balloon (@GildedBalloon) in 1986. Since then they have been one of the biggest producers and promoters of live entertainment events, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, and best known as one of the “Big Four” venue operators at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe each August.

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Here’s a list of questions we covered…

Gilded Balloon…

  • Why did you start the Gilded Balloon. Can you paint a picture of what the Fringe was like when you started? [33 secs]
  1. Bob Slayers Pod
  • Her relationship with Free Fringe venues and the rest of the Big 4. [1 hour]
  1. Earl Okin pod.
  • Sponsorship talk [1 hour 04 mins 10 secs]
  1. Brighton Fringe pod
  2. Melbourne Fringe Pod (coming soon)
  • Ask her if she has looked at reducing production costs so she can offer developing artists better deals [21 mins]
  • Getting the Counting House. Do you think you were treated fairly in that instance? [33 mins 40 secs]
  • What kind of deal is offered to PWYW performers? Minimum Guarantee for particular room size etc.? [33 mins]
  • Do PWYW performers have to pay the fee to be in the ‘Big 4’ catalogue as well as the main Fringe Program? [33 mins]
  • Did you think about doing PWYW models at your current venues or was expansion always part of the plan? [ 42 mins]
  • Passing the company onto her daughter. [56 mins 25 secs]
  • The future of the company is to run a year round club, how will that look? Edinburgh previews? Opportunities for new acts etc? [35 mins 40 secs]
  • Are comedians allowed to keep their bucket donations? [36 mins]


  • What was the reason for starting this competition? [8 mins 37 secs]
  • Do you think there’s too many awards? [11 mins]

Other Questions… 

  • What are the best books on comedy, writing, stand up etc you’ve read? [1 hour 05 min 14 secs]
  1. I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake – Malcolm Hardee
  • What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and how did you get over it? [1 hour 05 min 14 secs]
  • What is the most interesting thing you do that nobody else ever seens? [1 hour 17 mins]
  • Who do you think is the most underrated person in your industry? [1 hour 17 mins]
  • Fred Southern









Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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