I’ve written the first chapter of a novel, if you think I should write chapter two reblog this .
Gavin caught his reflection in the mirror as he was leaving his flat. He didn’t like to look at himself for too long as, when he really looked at himself, it brought back all the memories of the mistakes he had made, the bad choices, the people he should have lost contact with years ago. He kept these thoughts locked away the best he could, but the sight of his flabby belly and bland face unlocked all those memories and implicated him at the scene of those crimes. If he didn’t look at himself then maybe they didn’t happen, it was someone else, another person’s life ruined, not his.
Despite this knowledge, sometimes he couldn’t help himself. He’d get trapped in his own reflection, lost in the horror. People could only dream of an unrestricted view of a travesty like this. What was this person doing with their life? Why hadn’t they washed the food stains out of their clothes? How could someone this gormless be walking around unaided by a carer? Here he was, with unlimited access. So why not have a good look? Once, he caught himself in the mirror while eating, a sight so depressing that it had prompted him to move out of home and get a job. Sometimes he looked at himself hoping that the same spark that had forced him to do that would reignite and force him into a more positive choice to get things back on track. But the spark had clearly gone out. Five years ago there was kindling but that had been replaced with a damp squib. The best policy was to just not look anymore. Pretend it wasn’t happening. Out of sight, out of mind.
It was things like this, staring at himself in the mirror for too long, that made him late for work. Obviously he could never tell his colleagues this… “Sorry I’m late, I caught my reflection in the mirror when I was leaving and got trapped in a cycle of negative thought patterns.” They’d try and help him. It was bad enough the damage he’d done to his own life, why risk other casualties? Punctuality was a problem. The deep rumination happened infrequently (during the working week) but there were other things. An inferiority complex he didn’t even deserve, a job where he just spends the money on junk food and white goods, and the lack of motivation to get out of bed in the morning. It looked easy enough and he could do it most of the time, but every day? For the rest of his life? That thought alone was enough to make you never get out of bed again. How did people do it every day? What did they have to live for? Bed was sanctuary. Life was just an inconvenient stop gap between getting out of bed and returning to it that evening. He’d always heard bedridden spoken about in negative terms, bedridden was the dream. Imagine a valid reason to never get out out of bed again.
There were only so many times you could blame the tube. And Gavin was fast running out of dying relatives. After using all the real ones and the ones he’d made up, he reckoned that he had a Great Aunt left as a valid excuse before the whole dead relative thing was redundant. He drew the line at using his parents (they were still alive, he wouldn’t want to tempt fate). He suffered from episodes of guilt badly enough as it was. He wouldn’t want to add jinxing his Mum or Dad’s death to the list of things to feel guilty about. He still hadn’t quite resolved the guilt issues from saying his Grandma (who was still alive) had died as an excuse for a day he was four hours late for work. He’d weighed it up at the time and it felt like the right thing to do. No one in the family particularly liked her, and if making up that she died foretold her actual death prematurely, he’d be doing the family a favour. And it was an emergency, life is for the living, he thought. As soon as the words “My Grandma died” left his mouth, he knew it was a mistake. Gavin was not cut out for doing the job of the grim reaper, he couldn’t even fill in spreadsheets effectively. What was he even doing attempting to decide who should live and die? She wasn’t even ill, she was just a sociopath.
He was late again, looked like about half an hour or so. Not worth using the Great Aunt excuse on this occasion. For that length of time, delays on the line worked fine. Gavin worked in an office. Just a normal office. It had someone who worked in accounts, an HR person, desks with computers on, the strip lighting that apparently gave you cancer, a water machine, one of those areas with some cupboards and a sink. Everything you needed for a functioning office. His job was administrative. This would be the first job to go when they inevitably introduced robots into the workplace. A robot wouldn’t be late, it could work longer hours. It would probably have a programme that enabled it to make perfect small talk. Most importantly, you wouldn’t have to pay the robot. Everyone saw robots taking over as some sort of bloody battle where they destroyed the human race. It wouldn’t be like that at all, humans would just destroy themselves when there was nothing left to do. And the robots would just be sat in offices doing admin until the world ended. How long before he became obsolete, 10 years, 20 years? He should be preparing for when this happened, but just preparing for tomorrow was hard enough.
He slunk into the office. For a man his size, he could be agile if he needed to be. He opened up his computer and began to work. He’d missed breakfast, so opened the bottom drawer of his desk and got out a packet of crisps. He savoured the first one and let it melt on his tongue. He loved crisps. Jane wheeled over to his desk on her chair and dumped a pile of files on top of the packet of crisps he’d just opened. “You couldn’t sort these out for me could you Gavin?” Gavin was in love with Jane. He loved her plain face, small eyes and lank hair. Her bad attitude. She wouldn’t stand for him staring at himself in the mirror for hours on end and worrying about robots taking his job. Jane was exactly the type of woman he needed, someone who would tell him what to do. He’d tried pretty unsuccessfully to navigate his own life. He needed Jane to sail the ship.
“Sure Jane, nice weekend?”
She had wheeled back to her desk. The phone on his desk beeped, he picked it up and heard the nasal tone of the manager John.
“Gavin, could you swing by my office? We need to have a chat”
John opened Gavin’s file and sighed.
“I thought we’d sorted out being late?”
“My Mum’s Great Aunt died at the weekend, so had a bit of life admin that carried over into this morning, my Grandma is very upset about it all.”
“I thought your Grandma was dead?”
“She got better.”
“Well punctuality is becoming an issue again, attendance is poor. Productivity is down. Gavin, you’ve got some chocolate on your face.”
Gavin wiped his face with the sleeve of his shirt. John rifled through Gavin’s file, it made for depressing reading.
“Do you not like working here?”
“No I love it, great people, nice location. Really feel like it’s where I belong.”
“We are getting pretty close to the end of our disciplinary options, Gavin. I thought the written warning had put a stop to the lateness and moroseness.”
“Well I’d hardly say I was morose.”
“Gavin, the cleaner found a wet towel and a bottle of Head And Shoulders in the office last night, along with further evidence of someone bathing in the sink, do you know anything about this?”
“I’m disgusting…I mean that’s disgusting.”
They sat in silence. The meeting was now at a standstill. John thought he’d given Gavin enough rope, with the lateness, chocolate on his face and finally a clear accusation of using the office as a public bath. But this oaf just sat there sucking up all the criticisms like they were compliments. No, he hadn’t given him rope, he’d given him string. Gavin was not going to hang himself today. John had to retake control of the meeting, as if he didn’t, Gavin would sit there for even longer, taking up time.
“Okay, well, I’m not going to give you a final warning today, but next time you are in here, you are going to leave me no choice. I like you Gavin,” he lied, “but you need to turn things around if you want a future here.”
Gavin scuttled back to his desk sat down and took a big sigh, he might actually have to do something about this.
Follow Harry Deansway on Twitter @deansbomb for further updates
John Pinette the latest in a long line of fat funny Americans makes his debut at the Fringe this year, the Fix dials his hotline to chat about touring with Sinatra, some of his worst jobs and of course food.
JP – Hello?
HD – Er, hello. Is that John?
JP – Is that Scotland calling?
HD – (laughs) It’s actually London calling, but…
JP – Oh! It’s London calling! I love that song. The Clash.
HD – It’s a good song.
JP – I grew up listening to them. How are you?
HD – I’m alright, how are you?
JP – Very good thanks.
HD – Are you a morning person? I understand it’s 10am there, is that right?
JP – In about 40 minutes I leave for Vegas and I never have a problem getting up to go to Vegas. I don’t hit the alarm twice when I’m on my way to Vegas, I kind of spring out of bed. But, erm, normally I kind of like to, obviously there’s stuff that you have to do in the morning when I’m on the road I have to do morning radio. Sometimes you have to get up at like 5 or 6 in the morning and you get up and you cry and you get your, you get enough caffeine in you, and you do your job and then I go back to bed.
HD – Okay.
JP – But the idea would be to focus your energy, so the idea would be to sleep until 11 or 12 o’clock because if you’re on stage at 8 or 9 o’clock, that’s when you want your energy to be focused.
HD – Absolutely.
JP – Think about it, if I woke up at 7 o’clock in the morning and I’ve got a show at 9 o’clock at night, well I’ve been up for 14 hours already, it’s kind of a disservice to my audience. So your questions my friend…
HD – Okay, yeh. I’ve watched your DVDs and stuff and you just seem like a natural entertainer, and I just wondered if you’ve ever had any other jobs apart from the entertainment industry.
JP – Yes I did. When I got out of college, I got pelted by my family, I’m the youngest by 9 years and when I was 18 my Mum had passed away so it was pretty much just me. I got pelted with that whole ‘marketable skillS’ shit, so I got an accounting degree.
HD – Yeh…
JP – And it turns out I’m anything but marketable in accounting. So when I graduated college I got a job for about 6 months in a mortgage company, which I’m glad I got out of because mortgage companies really aren’t doing well now, turns out the right thing did happen. Basically my job was to, really because I was gregarious and kind of did like to entertain, by job was to get the independent auditors drunk so that they would come in the next day and kind of be in a fog and really miss some of the bad stuff we were doing. So I guess even when I wasn’t an entertainer I was still in the business.
HD – So did that particular job have a job title?
JP – Yes it was a fancy title, Investor accounting specialist. I made $15,000 dollars a year.
HD – Did you get any material out of doing that job at all?
JP – No. I kind of repress it like a Vietnam flashback. I really do, I mean I wake up in the middle of the night screaming debits and credits, you know, in a cold sweat just thinking about it.
HD – Okay. Have you had any other horrible jobs, or was that the worst one?
JP – Well, I started, my first job… my act is mostly storytelling, so it’s not like I’m being jokey with you. My first job when I was 14 was at a Dunkin’ Donuts… In Boston, Massachusetts, right outside of Boston and they said “I know you like to eat, darling, but listen, you’re going to be here for a month and you’re not going to be able to look at a donut again.” That was thirty years ago and I’m still waiting for that shit to happen. I’m thinking maybe I’ll be in a donut queue and I’ll think “Donuts, yuck!” Maybe it’ll be a delayed kind of thing. Oh and I was a janitor to get through college, I worked my way through college and then of course I Riverdanced for a while.
HD – Did I read that you went on tour with Frank Sinatra or something?
JP – I did, that was in the early 90s.
HD – Any anecdotes about Sinatra? Or you can tell me, but you’d have to kill me?
JP – No! Well, you wouldn’t want to ask anyone at dinner what they did “What do you do?” “I sell insurance” You knew not to go, “What kind of insurance, I need insurance!” “You don’t need this kind of insurance. Just pass the canoles” It was really funny because I had a manager back then and there are some performers that are really approachable and you get to spend time with, but there are some that are obviously stars and they’ll say hello to you and obviously be very nice to work with and for the most part they’re great gigs. I was shocked how much they made you part of the group and invite you out to dinner and that kind of thing. He was more approachable than most of the performers that I worked with
HD – Oh wow.
JP – He loved to eat and he loved to drink, I mean we got along very well! “Bring the kid in, I want to see him eat a sandwich. The kid loves sandwiches, look at him, bring him another one” I was really quite in awe, but it was really just like a great, great, road gig.
HD – Cool.
JP – We did the Super dome in New Orleans, you know before the whole Katrina thing. We did the Super dome in the early 90s and after the show there was 3 limos that pulled up, he jumped into one, Shirley McCain jumped into the other one, she was doing the act too with us, and she was great too, and I got in with Mr S’s manager, Eliot Weisman and there were New Orleans police cruisers and we’re going like 60 miles an hour down the back streets in New Orleans
HD – Oh my god.
JP – We have a police escort to the restaurant. Now I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve said, I could really use a police escort to this restaurant, I’m starving. I jumped out of the car and said “A police escort to the food, I love this shit” and he got a real kick out of it. We didn’t have any problems getting reservations, a table opened up right away.
HD – Yeh. Cool. So yeh, obviously you do talk about food in your act and stuff, so I’m just wondering, erm…
JP – Sure, I figure it’s a common ground, everybody eats.
HD – On stage you come across quite angry about stuff do you actually have that anger towards other humans.
JP – Well like I say on stage, outside I have this cherub like demeanour and inside I’m like what the fuck is going on? Life is about decisions, decide! Yeh I think it definitely comes from a real place.
HD – Yes, you say you’ve been to the UK before is that right?
JP – Yes.
HD – So you’ll know that our service isn’t up to scratch as the US is.
JP – Yes, well I walked around London all day, and I’m a big history buff, from Simon Schama’s history of Britain to all the books, I even read Winston Churchill’s The Island Race, so I’m a big history buff, so you walk around all day and you come back starving and they have this tea shit and I can’t deal with it, I mean I just can’t. I mean, I asked for food and I’ve been given tea and it’s $48 for tea and for $48, Angela Lansbury should serve it to you dressed in a teapot. And (sings) “Tale as old as time”, well it is worth $48, she did come here. $48 and she should cure cancer, that’s all I’m saying. $48 dollars and I should walk around with a chubby for a month going “Did you have the tea?” (Laughs)
HD – Oh cool. So what’s your favourite period of history then?
JP – Oh well I do, erm, there’s always something that you can latch on to in terms of great food that’s like, wow that’s amazing, for me it’s like sausage rolls. I tried those and was like “Wow, this is going to be a problem.” And then someone started this shit, “Oh you know they sell them in states”, I don’t want to know about it! Don’t be making me go on the internet looking for sausage rolls. I don’t need any more food to avoid.
HD – Okay. So I was just going to say have you got any tips for… what are you going to do to survive Scotland for a month? I mean it’s gonna be… have you been to the Edinburgh festival before?
JP – Erm, no. I basically have done the festival for me has been the Montreal festival. I’ve done that for years and had a one man show there. I think that the way I’ve been able to do this 22 years and still love it is that I do things that are different. I’ve never been to Scotland, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Edinburgh festival.
HD – Okay.
JP – But it’s still different and, you know, there’s that anticipation; there’s some anxiety in the sense that I really do want to do well. I’m not one of those comics that go “I just do what I do and if they like it, then they can come along for the ride with me” I really have to make people laugh and have them enjoy it or I’m just not a happy cherub. But if you do different things, whether it be from, I did the hairspray thing, or do some TV stuff, you do something that’s new and maybe makes you feel uncomfortable at first, I think it’s part of the whole process of developing and keeping creative. On many levels I think it was a great decision to do Scotland.
HD – Yeh you’ll definitely learn a lot up there and you’ll see some great…
JP – I can’t imagine me not walking away with a lot of material.
HD – Yeh, and er…
JP – Did you see the part in the special where I had the air conditioning guy from Scotland?
HD – No, I’m not sure I got that.
JP – Because it was a true story, I used to have a house in Vegas.
HD – Okay.
JP – I lived in a desert and it wasn’t working out. I was using most of the energy for air conditioning, in the world. I was waiting for Al Gore to knock on my door with a carbon footprint and a PowerPoint presentation, so I sold the house and when I work there now I just take the elevator to work. But I would break my air conditioning like 3 times a week and I had an air conditioning guy from Scotland. I don’t know how he got from Scotland to Vegas, I have no idea, but I liked him because he was honest, you know. I paid him a lot of money like, I give him money under the table, ‘cause if your air conditioning breaks in Vegas, you’ve got to have an air conditioning guy on salary because they’re busy in the summer. I liked him because instead of “We’ll fix that right away for you Mr Pinette” he’d be like (in Scottish accent) “What the fuck are you doing in that house you crazy cold-arsed bastard? I’ve been up on the roof, you’ve froze the nuts off the whole unit! It’s like a block of ice up there. I’m worried about ya, chubby, it’s like an igloo. It’s not healthy!” So I can’t imagine… everywhere I go I walk away with some material.
HD – Yeh.
JP – And so I can’t imagine not walking away with some stories.
HD – It’s a cliché but you heard of the deep fried mars bar before?
JP – Yeh, I’m going to try that and I’m in weight watchers and obviously I bought everybody points in the group, so I’m going to try a deep fried mars bar. There’s a deep fried something else too, because they do deep fried Twinkies over here
HD – Yeh, deep fried pizza they do as well.
JP – Yeh. I’m going to pick like one day, one or two days where I’m going to try some of that stuff.
HD – Haggis?
JP – No, haggis is like, first of all, as far as joking goes, I don’t want to joke about it because I think it’s been overdone. “Oh look an American with a haggis joke, how does he think of it? What a genius. How groundbreaking. How fringe. A haggis joke.” But, nah I can’t do it. I just cannot hang with the haggis. I will embrace all other aspects of Scottish culture. I’ll even wear a kilt, but I ain’t eating haggis.
I watch a lot of TV. Well I used to watch a lot of TV. Now I watch a lot of TV to watch some TV,flipping through channels endlessly looking for something to watch. I look for something to watch the same way people look for Bigfoot. They glimpse a blurry thin bear, I glimpse the flicker of an engaging character. They think they see a monsters hand on a tree like I think I see a gripping storyline. But like them I never find what I’m looking for.
The internet was supposed to revolutionise TV, well if there has been a revolution it certainly hasn’t been televised (or internetised?). For the main Youtube is cat videos, vloggers and viral music videos. Netflix and that bunch are TV on a computer. Why hasn’t there been a great web-series that utilises the youtube format that people want to tune into every week with a narrative arc, strong characters and storylines? (editors note what about Mid Morning Matters?) (editors note You can’t do an editors note if you have written the piece and are the editor) (editors note thanks) Maybe it’s a money thing, it’s just not worth the time. Why would the best writers leave the big bucks of TV and movies to come and write a web-series?
I’m certainly not one of the best writers but I have written (and directed) a new web-series that launched today. Why should you watch it? One it’s been made with a lot of love and commitment, everyone has given their time for free as they believe in the project so it would be great to repay that with some views. Two the show not only utilizes the youtube format in a way I have not seen before but it also showcases some wonderful comic voices who have yet to find consistent mainstream success. It would be great if as many people as possible saw some of their excellent work
We have no budget to pay for a big marketing campaign to convince you it’s good, we are not using expensive PR’s to grease reviewers palms so do give the show a watch, there will be a new episode every Wednesday. Like any good series it’s going to take a couple of episodes to get into it, so hopefully you’ll stick with it. And if you really like it share it and give it a like. Hopefully unlike Bigfoot lots of you will actually see this.
Another word from our sponsor. Or should I say wood from our sponsor?
I am writing this letter to you following your recent interview to promote your tour on Newsnight.
I agree some things need changing as society does feel rather unfair for a lot of people. As mentioned in your New Statesman piece, in the issue you edited, there is a culture in this country of being governed by privileged, rich people. A different type of privileged, rich person than yourself of course. After all a lot of them became rich through the corporations you mention who are “destroying the planet” unlike you who nobly amassed your wealth by hosting the MTV awards, shilling Hewlett Packard computers and appearing in films like the remake of Arthur.
Anyway everything feels better since you got the revolution started late last week, I had a really nice cup of tea the other day and I stayed in the other night. Real change has been facilitated. I am ready to not vote as you suggested. In fact I am sitting here not voting right now. How long do you think I will have to wait to start voting again? As you told Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight to not ask you to “ devise a global utopian governmental system” Is there any plan at all? I know you are busy, are they making a Despicable Me 3?
Have you thought of setting up your own political party? Jonathan Ross could be head of communications and maybe Andrew Sachs could do your PR? He got you a lot of press a few years ago so could be a good person to get involved. Maybe your BB Noel Gallagher could come up with a new Education syllabus seeing as he recently told GQ that “Novels are a waste of fucking time” It’s quite an achievement to come out with a statement that makes Michael Gove look sane. I just think Noel will be good person to have on side in the New World order.
Will referring to my penis in third person help in anyway with the revolution? Mr Winkie wants to know. Also I’ve bought a thesaurus so I can start making simple points sound more exciting and also create the illusion that I am cleverer than I actually am… Open letters are tiring… I’m just going to de canter some boiling aqua into a china receptacle containing Indian leaves before adding liquid calcium. What a refreshing tipple of Darjeeling.
A friend said to me that I shouldn’t be part of your revolution because of your do as I say not as I do attitude but I said how can we not listen to someone on the redistribution of wealth who married Katy Perry on an elephant in an lavish Indian wedding.
Anyway I’ve wasted enough of your time, I’m sure we will hear what to do next when you next appear in the media to promote whatever it is you are selling.
PS Thanks for the secret political message in Rock Of Ages. Wink wink.
So I won at watching Breaking Bad. A lot of you are thinking it wasn’t a competition, well turns out it was. Who watched Breaking Bad the best? It was me.
I watched the final episode at 9AM Monday morning on Netflix making me if not the first person in the UK to watch it than at least the 2nd or 3rd. Also a lot of people have been watching it since it aired in 2008. Spend five years watching a TV show? Yeah why don’t I just take a mortgage out or murder a dog. What am I supposed to do in between series hit a tennis ball against a wall? Nah. Like a pro I just started watching it a couple of months ago borrowing box set’s from people who bought it. I was up to date around August just after they pulled that half a season break thing (Sorry, I just used the American word season when talking about a TV show, please take me outside and smash me in the balls with a frying pan) Whilst all the amateurs were drip feeding themselves episodes for 8 weeks till the big final episode Saturday night I just signed up for a free month’s trial on Netflix, hoovered up those last eight episodes and then cruised on home Monday morning to much back slapping, cheers and celebrations from everyone on the internet.
As well as my masterful watching of the series I made some pretty brilliant Facebook and Twitter comments like “So Tony Soprano was waiting for Walter White in that cafe at the end of The Sopranos, that explains everything” A tweet that no doubt delighted connoisseurs of the Box Set (the Box Set, like the Bloomsbury Set but instead of it being a group of like minded intellectuals it’s everyone who owns a DVD player.) Another classic tweet of mine was “Spoiler Alert, that was the last in the series of Breaking Bad” Toying with those less devoted fans with day jobs whilst amusing the American audience who had watched it when it aired 10’o’clock EST. Like a wry hawk soaring above the humourless sheep I tweeted and facebooked. Admittedly I got no likes or RT’s for any of my comments but who needs interaction on social networks when you’ve got the warm inner glow of satisfaction from knowing you owned watching Breaking Bad.
Of course I remember the original and best Box Set, Quantum Leap It was so good they couldn’t fit it in a box so they had to air it on BBC2. The glory days when box sets were in English, now they don’t know what language to write them in next. I reckon half the people who watch these shows don’t even care about them they’ve just always wanted to say “Scandinavian crime thriller” at a dinner party. Personally I’m really into a Moldovan Box set I’ve just made up in my own head.
But what to do now it’s all over baby blue, well it’s obvious isn’t it? Find a less well known American series and start saying it’s much better than Breaking Bad. I for one am really into nineties show Cop Rock, Needless to say I’ll win at watching that too.
The return of the independent spirit of the fringe has been heralded this year by the great and the good of the Edinburgh glitterati. With two victories for the Free Fringe in the Foster’s Comedy Award, “free” is apparently a viable alternative to the paid fringe. John Kearns and Adrienne Truscott are just two of its success stories but ultimately giving shows away “free” is damaging the long term sustainability of the fringe.
First of all, it is not free either for the performer or the audience. For the performer, both Free Fringe and Free Festival have administration fees in some form or another. For the audience, it is not free, as a bucket is forced in your face at the end of the show for you to donate money to the performer. Maybe a better name, not in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act, would be the cheap fringe? As a result, fringe acts on the paid fringe can’t compete (and by fringe acts I mean genuine acts on the fringe of comedy, not the new acts who have been on Mock The Week, have their own Comedy Blap and are signed to one of the big management companies) with the free fringe, why would you risk 6-9 pounds on an act you have never heard of when you can go and see an act you have never heard of for “free”? This is bad because, as a genuine fringe act charging for their show, it is virtually impossible to get people in and thus build any momentum to make the fringe worthwhile for them. Personally, I don’t want to give a show I’ve worked 6 months plus on away for free. Long term fringe acts will eventually be frozen out of the paid fringe, it won’t be financially viable for the venue to accommodate them or the act to perform there. Even if I approved of the free fringe, a lot of the rooms are virtually unplayable for anyone doing anything more than one man microphone comedy, with bar noise, toilets next to the stage and all sorts of things that turn a gig more into an obstacle course than a closed off space to deliver a performance of merit. At least at a paid venue you know there will be a stage and some rudimentary lighting.
Another thing you heard a lot at this year’s fringe was that the Big Four are pay to play and are ripping off acts. A theory mainly propagated by fanatic self publicist and cheap fringe zealot Bob Slayer (a quick look at a piece the Scotsman refused to publish by him two years ago shows what an unreliable voice he is when it comes to this issue. The figures he bandied around were mainly pulled out of his arse (which is ironic because his act is just pulling out his arse). I can only speak for The Pleasance, they do a very fair deal. 60/40 in your favour. Two of the reason’s acts lose so much money is the promoters and PRs. The deal with most promoters is the same as the venues (60/40 split) which means that once they’ve taken their cut instead of you getting 60% of gross you are getting about 35% (at best) which is going to make it even harder for you to claw back any money (especially when you are competing against the cheap fringe which is undercutting your show). I would suggest if you are in a 60 or less venue, your promoter should take no more than 15% Most of the services they provide to sell tickets for a venue that size you can do yourself.
Then you’ve got the PRs. As acts, we should run them out of Edinburgh. It is the biggest rip off around (£1500- £2000 is the going rate for the month). No act should pay for one in Edinburgh. Fair enough use a PR for a Tour, a TV show or your book launch, but Edinburgh is a fringe festival that should be of benefit to fringe acts, a meritocracy not a wheel oiled by the greasy palms of social butterflies who nag, coerce and bribe publications and journalists over drinks and lunch. And journalists and publications are at fault for so easily kowtowing to them.
An issue still lingering from last year, and one that no one want’s to speak out about, is the BBC who once again opened a venue. Have they forgotten they are a broadcaster? They bought up a range of hit BBC shows and stars and gave tickets away to it absolutely free (unlike the free fringe this venue actually is free). I had one conversation with a particularly arrogant vile BBC producer who argued that it was fine as by the BBC venue being up there it brought its own audience up to Edinburgh, which was then redistributed across the fringe. The arrogance, that he thought people were specifically coming to the fringe for the BBC venue! He also cited the BBC mixed bill nights that “showcase new talent” as if they were if not more important than doing your hour show.
I met him whilst flyering my show, so was offering him an opportunity to see some new talent. He said he was unable to make it “as it was his day off from the BBC venue and he didn’t want to see anymore comedy”. To clarify, a BBC producer at the fringe only wanted to watch comedy when he was working at his venue. It’s hard enough having to compete with the cheap fringe but you simply cannot compete with the UK’s biggest broadcaster spending thousands of pounds marketing free comedy. I need to make clear that I am not anti BBC I am however anti the BBC having a full time free venue in Edinburgh. I’ve tried to open a dialogue with the BBC about this but they are simply not interested and clearly want to plough on regardless of the long term effect they are having on ticket sales.
I do not think the spirit of the fringe is alive and well, in fact I think fringe acts are punished not prioritized. The cheap fringe is undercutting quality shows with lower quality shows and in the main, it props up average acts who barely have ten minutes, let alone an hour. Acts need to dispel the fallacy that the big four venues are pay to play and are out to rip off acts, they can be a profitable way to do the fringe. The people who slag off the big four are mainly people who have not been asked to play them. Promoters need to offer fairer deals, if they really want to work with these acts long term than they should invest in the act at this stage. If PRs are going to operate at the Fringe, then the service should be for free. Why should the act take all the financial risk? The BBC needs to cover the festival, not be a venue at the festival and there needs to be an urgent discussion about this. The Fringe is not a fringe anymore it is an already functioning industry transported to Edinburgh for the month. Many years ago, innovation was rewarded and new talent allowed to find its audience. Now, it’s a closed shop where the spirit, if not dead, is very close to dying. John and Adrienne had great shows but their success was the exception not the rule.
I’ll be performing my show Wrong Way (not for free) on the 27th of October http://bit.ly/1akBnCK
It wouldn’t be Edinburgh without Harry Deansway writing an article that gets the whole industry talking. Last year it was the BBC syphoning off tickets from the fringe with their atmosphereless marquee filled with free comedy and backed by thousands of pounds of marketing money. What could Harry Deansway have up his sleeve this year ?
Obviously Harry know’s what this article will be about because Harry Deansway has already uploaded this to tumblr, Harry wrote this in the past you are reading this in the future. SPOILER ALERT this blog gets finished. Look at Harry playing with the form and writing in the third person, take that GCSE English teachers. I’m writing in the third person because really famous people talk in the third person all the time. I think it will be good practice for when I become really famous after Edinburgh, but I’m sure we can discuss me getting really famous in future blogs here. Unless I get really famous during Edinburgh, in which case I’m not going to lie to you, I’ll be way too busy to do a blog.
Right! What’s the threat to the Fringe this year? Before I announce what the title of this blog gave away a long time ago. I must make it clear Stewart Lee is possibly the best British stand up out there, I have the ultimate respect for him as a comedian but I need publicity for my show so I am going to slag him off for the next 600 words . But enough about my personal life.
Every year in Edinburgh as sure as Scottish landlords will put the price of the rent up by 300% and acts will make a joke about deep fried mars bars in their show Stew will write an article saying how the fringe isn’t what it used to be. It’s probably due any second now. However this year he is part of the problem not the solution. The fringe is supposed to be a place where artists on the outside of comedy find an audience (clue is in the title, The Fringe) how are they supposed to do that when acts like multi award winning Stewart “Two TV shows” Lee are there taking away audiences from lesser known acts?
His two TV shows have turned Lee into a one man big four, hoovering up tickets for both himself and all the acts he has endorsed in his Avaloffthekerb rival “alternative”coterie. It’s just really hard to take someone seriously who’s Comedy Vehicle show is so nepotistic that it books the same act every week, him. Why does he even need two TV shows? Lording it up like a comedy equivalent of John “Two Jags” Prescott whilst us up and comers can’t even get TV meeting let alone a TV show!
When he’s not telling Audiences how to attend the fringe or saturating the TV schedules with his own shows he’s telling comedians how they should be comedians. He has so many rules I just wish he’d write them all down because I’m losing track of what we are allowed to do and not do. And after the articles, the lecturing, the TV shows, the books all of this he then has the audacity to tell us after travelling 300+ miles to get to the festival we must then go a further two miles away from where all the comedy is to support the Stand.
Stewart if this piece ever reaches you in your ivory tower that you have had erected in Stoke Newington with all your TV money to store all your awards in please stop and think about the consequences of your fame and success. Think about acts from the “New Wave” who share your time slot like Nick Helm, Mae Martin and Nicholas Parsons. Think about how you would have felt if Tom O’Connor had done what you are doing now in 1987 when you first attended the fringe. And finally think about coming to see my show Wrong Way 18:00 Pleasance Courtyard.
Stewart if you could enter into the spirit of the article and get really offended and maybe write a response that in turn pubiscizes my show I’d really appreciate it.
Stewart has since come out and said that he comments about acts using writers was taken out of context http://pastebin.com/tcMx7Wvy However I have it on good authority that he got an unknown act to write this staement and didn’t pay them.
.• To get two free tickets to Harry’s show, simply find a Wrong Way flyerer in the Pleasance Courtyard between 4 and 5.30 and say “right way”. Offer only available Monday to Thursday. No show on the 13th. Check @deansbomb on Twitter for details