Monday, 28 July 2008

The Early Bird......

Year on year I have become more enthusiastic about the Fringe.

I went from stopping to see a few jugglers in the street on my way to work.... to seeing the odd comedy show... to taking a week off work to go and see shows.... to writing a blog about it......

One thing I noticed as I became more keen, was that the earlier you started the more shows you could see for your money.

I don't want to perpetuate the stereotype of the tight Scotsman, but.....come to the previews. It's as cheap as the budgie!!!

It only costs a fiver for most shows Wed - Sat, and that's only if you're not lucky enough to get given free tickets by a stressed out producers who don't want to open with three people in the audience (including their parents who have flown all the way to Edinburgh for their big debut).

You'll get some shaky performances and you'll see at least one absolutely terrible show, but that's the risk you run when coming to the festival. You're not a true fringe goer until you've sat through a show, too embarassed to leave because you don't want to half the audience numbers by making a premature exit.

In order to maximise my chances of getting in for nothing, I've found that sitting in the Pleasance Courtyard eating ice cream, reading the Guardian (with a free fringe guide) and drinking a cold beer tends to do the trick.

It isn't that busy (especially during the day) and there will be lots of eager performers, looking for audience members to see the show and spread the word about it to all their friends. That's why, if they don''t sell many tickets in advance, they print off a big pile of freebies and hand them out to boost numbers.

It's mostly just other performers that are about, so if you adopt a similar position to me you'll stick out like a sore thumb because you'll be relaxed and not stressing out, and the flyer vultures will circle you and try to sell you tickets to the show.

Some shows may have already taken your fancy and some you may not have heard of, but your reaction should always be the same. Find out as much as you can about the show, ask if the person giving you the flyer is involved in it, if not have they seen it? Then, thank them for their time, take a flyer, show a bit of interest and tell them that if you're free when the show is due to start, you might buy a ticket.

If they have free tickets to give away, they'll come back to you. If not you could always buy a ticket, see it another day or just give it a miss entirely. In any case, there'll be another one along in a minute.

If you are patient, it works (you're guaranteed to be approached every 5 minutes, but the offer of a free ticket might only come along every half hour or so). I have done this for the past 3-4 years and on average I'll see up to 6-7 shows a day and pay for maybe 2 a day (that works out at around £10 not including beer and ice cream).

Then after the previews finish, find yourself a partner and take advantage of the 2 for 1 deals on Sunday and Monday, and fingers crossed you'll still have plenty of cash for the rest of the Fringe!

No comments: