Monday, 23 August 2010

Other people's experiences...

As a counterpart to my own personal thoughts, I would like to quote other people’s reactions to the Ediburgh Fringe. 

I am intrigued, for example, by the cynical pessimism expressed by Armando Ianucci in an interview he gave a couple of years ago: "I always carry with me, when I arrive in Edinburgh, that inherent sense of the disappointment of it all." “…you might as well assume now that this is a waste of your time.” And how about these comments from someone like Greg Davies (in a Time Out interview, October 2010): “The amount of work, sweat, fear and narcissism that goes into it is exhausting. It’s such an intense thing to do. You get lost in the Edinburgh bubble and we all convince ourselves that it’s more important than it actually is – the rest of the country doesn’t give a shit, really.”

Is Edinburgh still what it used to be? Or is the spirit of the Fringe dead? See, for example, veteran John Fleming’s ruminations in his blog: “Scots comedienne Janey Godley has been telling me and has blogged that she feels this year’s Edinburgh Fringe is different. That the spark has gone. That it has lost some of its character. I told her it felt that way every year.” “But, in the last few days, I have come round to agreeing with Janey Godley. The old Fringe is dying or is already dead.” John Fleming seems to see the future of Edinburgh in the free fringes, as does Project Adorno's Russell Thompson in his (not terribly optimistic but very candid and incredibly spot on ) review, where he says, among many other insightful comments:the Edinburgh Fringe is about the most regimented thing you can do: it’s a case of get up, go flyering, go home, do rehearsal, do show, go home, see a show, go flyposting, go home, collapse;”  “There’s an oft-repeated snippet of Fringe lore that goes: ‘Did you know that the average audience-size for a show is [any number between one and seven]?’ ” (thankfully, the average audience for ITNOTF was higher than that...).

I wish I had read earlier the wise and thoughtful views that Tom Webb had shared online at the start of this year’s Fringe: "I have heard so many sad, tired stories from my returning Fringe friends. They wince and moan about the cost and small audiences and terrible venues, all with their own myriad misadventures. The only similarity is that they've all come back improved – battered and bruised, but better."

I also fancy including here a comment from Matt Panesh, The Monkey Poet, whose show went on every night at the Banshee Labyrinth after UTTER! We were chatting outside the venue, during one of his fag breaks, when he said something like: “Just the fact that a person has chosen my show and has come to see me is rewarding in itself.” I couldn’t agree more. The knowledge that, out of all the shows on offer each night, someone out there – this anonymous audience member whose motives I cannot even begin to imagine – chose to see me (picked my show, made the effort to find the venue, arrived on time, stayed until the end, clapped) was very special indeed.

To sum it up, I could just quote David Mills quoting a comedian he met at one of the open mic shows where he performed: “We are all going to die.”

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