Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Doug Segal - I know What You're Thinking *****

I have two things to say about Doug Segal.

Number one is that he has an incredible show. Number two, he is the perfect example of how good marketing can bring you success at the Fringe.

I first encountered Doug when he started following me on Twitter not long after I'd joined, when I only had around 20 followers and hadn't said much. Presumably lured by my official looking username, he read my blog, saw what I was about and messaged me inviting me to come along and see the show. I was by no means the only one. @FringeGuru, @EdinburghSpotlight, @PublicReviews and many others had also been charmed into reviewing his show (or manipulated by the power of his mind depending on which way you look at it) and the reviews were all resoundingly positive.

I got the chance to meet him in person at the Free Festival Launch Party and I was pleased to find out that he was as nice in person as he appeared on Twitter. We chatted about his marketing strategy and he told me that once he had prepared a good show, he knew his work was still less than half done as he still had to get a crowd in to watch it, and he saw his job as show promoter every bit as much as a performer.

As someone who works in marketing who has watched so many better than average comedians get nowhere because they were to hungover to flyer or because they don't even have a facebook page, I can't tell you how refreshing this attitude is to see. Any aspiring comics or theatre acts need to look back at his Twitter timeline over the last three months, read his masterclass in self promotion and follow his lead.

Anyway, enough of my appreciation of him as a marketing guru and on to the show.....

Doug describes himself as a mentalist "like Derren Brown" but funnier. When you compare yourself to someone as successful as that you need to have the skills to match and thankfully Doug's show doesn't disappoint. I have read Derren Brown's book as well as others by the likes of James Randi, so I have a fair idea of how acts like Doug's work (I regularly annoy my girlfriend by beating Penn and Teller to the punch when they dissect the performance of another contestant on "Fool Us").

I tried doing the same at Doug's show, but by trick number four I was really struggling and although I got back on track mid-show, the last 4-5 tricks , leading up to the grand finale had me not even knowing where to start.

From the beginning he is charming and friendly, his show requires audience participation which (unlike Adam Riches) is done very sensitively without embarrassment and with the volunteers constantly at ease with their role.

His tricks all worked perfectly and he finished with a standing ovation (albeit prompted) and the buzz continued all the was down the stairs as people were leaving, desperate to discuss how he could have possibly pulled it all off.

He is now on course to sell out every show (many had to be turned away on the night I was there - and that was a Monday) so book your ticket while you still can.

Bigger and better things now await! He'll be doing a full run next year and the 5 star reviews keep rolling in.

I'm delighted to add mine to the list!

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