Brighton Fringe 2016 Costs

What the hell is a Fringe report?

I’m an indie comedian who does (pretty much) everything himself, as a result, I’m in a unique place to blog about what exactly it is I “do” at Fringe festivals. Below is a list of everything (noteworthy) that happened at the Brighton Fringe Festival 2016.

I did one of these in 2015 and do them on a regular basis. You can find them all here.

Background

I’m a comedian. I do solo stand up which makes my show one of the cheapest possible to put on (I only need a mic and a light… one of my venues doesn’t even have a raised stage). 

I decided to do two shows this year.

Show info

Show 1  – Buddhism And Cats

Venue – Caroline Of Brunswick

Dates – 15th,16th,17th, 23th,24th,25th May 2016

Time – 7.45pm

Bit of extra info – This is my Edinburgh Fringe show from 2015 [fringe report here]. I took it to Brighton in 2015 [fringe report here] as a work-in-progress. I decided to take it back in its finished form as I thought doing two shows a day would increase the chances of breaking even (given my travel costs don’t increase etc).

Show 2 – Human In Progress

Venue – Hobgoblin

Dates – 23th,24th,25th May 2016

Time – 6.15pm

Bit of extra info – This is my work-in-progress show for Edinburgh 2017 (I didn’t get an appropriate offer for the show in 2016 so decided to skip it and work on the show around the circuit / at other festivals).

I live in London and did not have the money to live down in Brighton. Also I was working a day job during the first 3 out of the 6 shows. I hope that paints you a picture… here’s my Brighton Fringe.

Aims

I only had a handful of simple aims for the festival. Last year my goals were similar but I decided to push myself forward and do as much as possible (without killing myself. I don’t care how many times someone quotes “find what you love and let it kill you” at me. I want to gig for my life and I want my life to be as long as it can be).

  1. Have a good run of the finished show / work-in-progress shows to real audiences.
  2. Build on my tiny audience base in Brighton. 
  3. To test some marketing ideas pre-Edinburgh 2017. (See point 5 under “things I’ve learned” to know how this went).
  4. Do get some podcasts done outside of London so I can add some variety to that project (you can find my podcast here or on iTunes here).
  5.  To have fun! 

Prep

Buddhism and Cats

  • Given the show was finished the prep was minimal. I had the show done by September 2015. I updated some references and posters but ultimately I used the same description / content from Edinburgh 2015. Oh and I had to purchase some new badges as I was running out. 
  • I updated a press release for this festival and sent it off to a bunch of publications and the Fringe themselves. [View that here]
  • I made EventBrite free ticket links to extend the reach of the show.

Human In Progress

  • I had posters and flyers made (by Bella Noell who was an absolute professional and I’d highly recommend). 
  • I purchased all marketing materials as “double-sided” with one show on the front and one on the back to save money.
  • I wrote a bunch of jokes and sketched some ideas.
  • I wrote a press release for the festival after contacting a ton of media to find out what they wanted in a press release [view that here].
  • I made EventBrite free ticket links to extend the reach of the show. 

Podcasting

  • I booked podcast in with Henry Normal and Mick Perrin (both of who are based in Brighton so I had to get them in their own time / in their hometown).

Marketing / How people heard about the show.

This is not an exact science. I simply asked people at the start / end of each show how they heard about it / found out it was happening. I didn’t get exact numbers, but here’s a brief breakdown.

I didn’t flyer at all. I also had no posters. If you want to know how that turned out in terms of audience numbers go down to the next bit about “profit / loss”.

Here’s the breakdown (roughly) of how people found my show – 

Printed program – 49%

Official website – 20%

Event Brite – 0%

Me talking to them in the bar – 20%

Word of mouth – 0%

Saw me at other shows – 4%

Social media – 1%

The venue website listings – 1%

Podcast / Facebook – 5%

What made people come to the show?

At the end of every show I asked the audience how they heard about the show and what attracted them to come. Above is how they heard about it. Below is what made them want to spend the hour with me. I’ve split it by show because clearly they’re two totally separate “products” at different venues / times.

Buddhism and Cats – 

The title – 25%

The desc – 20%

The artwork – 30%

The minute pitch from me – 25%

Human In Progress – 

The title – 35%

The desc – 10%

The artwork – 5%

The minute pitch from me – 50%

Profit / Loss

Something I think most comedians will be interested in is the “bucket”. As I was a free show, nobody had to commit to paying upfront for the show. This is a system I believe in and enjoy (I believe in it so much I wrote a book on the subject which you can buy here). If you can’t afford to pay £10 for my show, I still want you to see my show. It’s usually not people being “cheap”, it’s usually people simply not having the funds to pay what you need them to in order to cover overheads. But by keeping my expenses low and doing everything myself I’ve managed to have an “OK” Fringe run in terms of money. Here’s a full disclosure of what stuff cost me and my profit / loss sheet – 

Costs -

Show Costs

Show 1  – Buddhism And Cats

Registration with Laughing Horse – £11 x 6 shows = £66

Laughing Horse Advertising (compulsory) – £10

Early bird programme registration – £162

Trains (first 3 shows) – £39.50

Total – £277.50

Show 2 – Human In Progress

Registration with Laughing Horse – £11 x 3 shows = £33

Laughing Horse Advertising (compulsory) – £10

Early bird programme registration – £138

Total – £181

General costs – 

 £39  Trains
£50 Posters / Marketing materials
 £497.50 Grand Total
 £82.91 Cost per show (divided by 6).

Bucket takings

Buddhism and Cats

Date Bucket Profit / Loss Audience size
15th £121.68  £38.77 75
16th  £28.99 (€21) -£32.92  24
17th  £82.37 -54p  40
23rd  £27.63 -£55.28 30
24th £74.37 -£8.54   50
25th  £56.25 -£26.66  50 
Total  £391.29 £85.17  269 

Human in Progress

Date Bucket Profit / Loss Audience size
23rd  £7.42 -£75.49  9
24th  £16.42 -£66.49  12
25th  £25.31 -£57.60 15 
Total £49.15   -£199.58

 

So… I made a massive loss over 9 shows. Bit gutting given last year I made a small (£15) profit. But the audience numbers are growing and people are “remembering” who I am which is awesome. 

Things I’ve learned 

I learned so much from doing this fringe, but here’s some highlighted points which I think will be good for both performers and maybe some comedy fans as well – 

  1. Look people in the eye when they’re donating. Nobody wants you to be staring at their hand to see how much they donated. It’s kinda rude as well.
  2. I would totally recommend clicking “Free Ticketed” as an option. It means people can reserve a seat on the official website. The only issue is that they need to pay 75p booking fee to do it. I didn’t do this but had friends who did and they said it felt great to know X number of people had already reserved a seat before they began flying. 
  3. Flyering in Brighton annoys the locals and seems to not have the same desired effect that it does in Edinburgh. [hear more from the Brighton Fringe managing director here]
  4. Be honest about doing a work-in-progress. I did not include this in my blurb or marketing. Nobody really cared, but there were some other acts who (admitted) they were less prepared than I was and as a result their audiences would have liked to know before decided to attend that the show was not finished.
  5. If you can afford it, stay in Brighton. Book yourself into an airbnb or a spare room and just take the hit on the money. If you are going to do this, try and book a run of 3-5 consecutive nights. I live in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and worked near Oxford Street during my run. This meant I spent between 2 & 1/2 and 3 hours on the train (without any delayed) per day… looking back on it, this might explain why I got through a handful of books in May. Trains are shattering and although I love them, my body did not after a few days. 
  6. I highlighted my show in the listings. I don’t know how effective that was for the amount of time it took to do (given nobody said it made them come). But I won’t be using pink / red highlighters again because some people thought that meant it was cancelled.
  7. A form of promotion which works for one show will not necessarily work for another. I had some ideas this year (which are not included in this blog) and I needed a “dry run” of them to see if they worked or how they would be received. 
  8. Weekend train tickets to Brighton are cheaper than during the week… also you get big(ger) audiences on the weekend… so book weekend spots IF you can.
  9. If you live in London book a ticket from “any London terminal”. By being flexible for them you get cheaper tickets than using the specific station (I saved £3-5 per train by doing this).
  10. Get a network railcard. These cut 1/3 off your trains and are seriously such a lifesaver. They cost £30 for the year but if you travel via trains as much as me you’ll get that back.
  11. Budget. Budget. And budget some more!
  12. Book into spots on other shows if you can, but remember Brighton is not really about getting “stage time” in that way. I did at least 1 spot on another show every single night I was there. This also helped for meeting other performers and maybe some local promoters.
  13. Brighton audiences are comedy savvy and so lovely. Also, they’ve not seen 10 shows before getting to yours, so the energy level in the room is higher than it can sometimes feel in Edinburgh. It’s really fun like that.
  14. Eat local. It’ll cost slightly more, but it’s nicer and also you can plug your show to them. 
  15. Get to know the venue staff. They’re usually all local people who REALLY give a shit about what’s going on at their place of work and will be a valuable asset to you in terms of telling punters who are looking for shows what’s on. I did this last year and they remembered me this year. It was lovely to arrive back to the venue and see a friendly face who was actually excited to see me. 
  16. Buy the staff a gift at the end of your run… they’ll really appreciate it and respect you for it and also, it bloody nice to do something nice for someone else who has worked their ass off during the festival (and probably not got anything additional from it except headaches).
  17. Have a bucket speech and a 1-minute pitch ready. This is key to selling the show to people. As well as getting people to donate at the end. It’s not always the case that you had a great show so they’ll just give you money… you need to find a unique and original way of asking for some sort of payment without sounding desperate.

The Results

 Given the intangible nature of all of this, it’s really hard to pin point “results” however, I’ve given it a go…

  • I feel more confident in my material and comedy abilities going into the homestretch / approaching the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
  • 59 new email address added to my mailing list (taking me to over 500 in total)
  • I made a loss ( see above ).
  • I have a lot more confidence in the new show and the ideas in it.

I will totally apply to do Brighton again. I loved it. They’re a really comedy savvy town and I got the chance to play approx 300 people over 9 dates in May. Can’t really beat that, can you? 

Thanks for reading. X

 

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