This year I am doing my first solo show. I’ve been to Edinburgh twice before for performing reasons and once more just to look. I am the host of the professional talk radio show “Ask The Industry Podcast” where I’ve spoken to the industry experts (and continue to) about what you can do to have a killer / professional / successful Edinburgh show.
I am an independent comedian, trying to make a career in comedy with a DIY attitude and a (low) budget.
Here’s my guide using their advice, my experience and research broken down month-by-month. Hope it helps –
One last thing…
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August the previous year (12 months til the Fringe).
- Go up. See shows. Look at rooms. Find and short list the places / venues you want to perform in. Also look about and see how hard these rooms are to get people into. You cannot see enough rooms / venues. Even the ones you dislike help you find the right one. (NB take photos of the venues you see and send me the photos. I am trying to map all the venues and your pictures help).
- Get yourself a loyalty card to a supermarket… then start using it. You can save up a lot of points during the year and these will come in very handy when you arrive in August next year and need to do a big shop (and have a tight budget).
September (11 months to go).
- Rest. This is the only month of the year you’ll get to do this as all the others have stuff on. If anything, line up some work and try to save as much money as possible. You’re going to need it all… the Fringe isn’t cheap (but we’ll get to that).
October (10 months to go).
- Decide on the theme, title and basic idea of your show. You need to have this in mind as early as possible. Unless you’re doing a “showcase” show in which case do what ever you like. But if you’re taking an actual show up, give this some real thought and also think about what will make your show different (this doesn’t mean PR / stunts yet… I mean content / themes).
- Listen to the Ask The Industry Episode with Neil Mackinnon (head of external affairs at the Edinburgh Fringe) on what facilities they offer.
November (9 months to go).
- Sign up to the Fringe Newsletter. It’ll keep you up-to-date with deadlines and offers. Also make sure you’ve Liked their Facebook. Additionally you can’t go very wrong putting alerts up to make sure you know the minute the place you want to perform opens its doors. Most promoters have mailing lists / social media accounts. So do your research.
[Alex Petty From Laughing Horse talking about the process of Free Fringe Applications]
[Hils Jago From The Amused Moose talking about the process of paid show Fringe Applications]
[Bob Slayer From Bob’s Bookshop talking about the process of pay-what-you-want Fringe Applications]
December (8 months to go).
- Start writing (or at least brainstorming) the goddam show. This will really help you write press releases and plan who you want to come see your show. You’ve got some Christmas downtime, and all those “funny things” your family have said around the turkey should inspire you, maybe.
January (7 months to go).
- Start contacting the Fringe Society for advice on advertising, marketing your show and the venues which you might have missed back in August. They offer free advice to all performers.
- If you want a discount rate on an advert in the Ed Fringe programe you need to have this signed off by the end of the month.
- If your promoter / venue opens up their bookings fill out the forms asap.
- Write more jokes.
February (6 months to go).
- You promoter / venue should have opened up their bookings by now. You should have your information ready to send them.
- The Fringe Society opens up its registration the final week of the month.
- Start booking previews.
[Fringe success story Luisa Omielan on why previewing is so important and how she helped make her show a sleeper-hit podcast]
- Get another joke written.
March (5 months to go).
- The “early bird” discount for shows wanting to be in the programme happens in the middle of the month. Be sure to do this as the price shoots up and really hits your bottom line.
- Listen to the Ask The Industry Episode with Mel Brown (from Impressive PR) in preparation for writing your press release.
- Read the Indie Guide To Press Releases to hear what the experts and journalists are looking for in a press release.
- Maybe write a joke or two.
April (4 months to go).
- Have your copy / image sent off the Fringe programme people by the 1st of the month. They usually have edits / comments on things, and you don’t want to feel / be rushed by leaving it too late.
- The middle of the month is when the closing date is for the programme so the Fringe have time to send it to the printers.
- Once you’ve sent off your copy / registration… start looking for a place to stay. You can do this earlier, but it’s probably best to make sure you have a show first. There’s a lot of space in Edinburgh but there’s also a lot of applicants.
- Think about writing a joke.
May (3 months to go).
- The Fringe Programme is being printed ready to be published next month… so get your PR & marketing stuff ready (should you want to do this). This means press releases, a short snappy pitch you know by heart and have started creating your flyers.
[Podcast with Idil Sukan on marketing materials at the Fringe]
[Bella Noell photography – 30% off right now Please mention you found out about it from the blog / podcast.]
[Sean Brightman design – Please mention you found out about it from the blog / podcast.]
[An Indie Comedian’s Guide To Press Releases – interviews / tips / hints / advice from people in PR & journalists]
- Set up an alert for train tickets to get the cheapest price and if you can be flexible and book a single up and down check the fare scanner.
- Write some more of your show.
June (2 months to go).
- Start your PR campaign. Contact the press / magazines / reviewers you want to come and see your show. Most magazines have long lead times, but newspapers don’t. Your best bet is to ring them and ask when is the best time(s) to contact them for coverage / to send them your PR fluff.
[Bruce Dessau – London Evening Standard reviewer podcast about the Fringe]
[Julian Hall – comedy reviewer for The Independent newspaper / Fringe PR expert podcast]
[Copstick – Head comedy reviewer at the Scotsman Newspaper]
- Begin to research and start to book spots on selection shows.
- Continue to write your show.
July (30 days to go).
- Order your flyers / posters and train tickets.
- Don’t forget to attend Fringe networking meetings and join Facebook groups like the Comedy Collective / Ed Fringe Collective.
August (zero days to go).
- Have fun.
- Work hard.
- Play hard.
- And don’t moan too much.
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