The Edinburgh Fringe
By Richard Herring
Edinburgh is the best arts festival world. All you need is half an idea for a show (and many have got by with less), a church hall in Leith and some badly photocopied flyers and youÂ’re in. You donÂ’t have to be invited or be on telly. You donÂ’t even have to be any good. Performance art based on poetry of Guy de Maupassant is as welcome here as Jim Bowen. WhatÂ’s not to love?
Fresh-faced students mix with crater-faced hacks, all equal at least in the Fringe Guide. Some may yearn to be Â“discoveredÂ” and a few might achieve their dream (pity these unfortunates), but the majority will simply have the most wonderful, terrible, exhilarating, depressing month of their lives.
With bad reviews, public indifference and needlessly divisive prizes dangling like baubles out of reach, it can be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. But roller-coasters are good, right?
Even ones where you need Â£10,000 to get on?
Yep, fame costs and this is where you start paying. In money (alas sweat is not accepted in Scotland or with the heat in the venues weÂ’d all be millionaires). If you want a top venue, youÂ’ll need a top promoter. If you want to get reviews, youÂ’ll need a schmoozing PR guru with an expense account to bribe cocaine-swilling journalists. Newer acts can lose five figure sums, even if they sell every ticket. Is this the spirit of the Fringe? Last year I felt it could all implode, with too many shows for not enough punters and bigger acts in bigger venues taking away even more of the casual audience. I hope it was just a blip.
DonÂ’t pity us. Edinburgh is a month long party, fuelled by drink, drugs and no-strings sex with shallow and vacuous strangers. Though last year I spent most of my time sitting in the lounge watching cricket with Chris Addison. When did I get so old?