So what's your experience with the Free Festival been like over the last few years?
Anything you're particularly fond of or that drives you especially mental?
It’s been really good. I first came in 2009 and did ten nights at the Meadow Bar and have been back every year since. On the whole it has seen the crowds get bigger, keener and more inebriated.
I like the idea that people stick in a bucket at the end what they think the show is worth. As a punter I think it’s much more conducive to taking a chance on new stuff, and I say that as someone who more than once wasted a tenner on seeing something woeful on Bristo Square. That said, if there had been the bucket system in place on one of those occasions I think I would have pulled my pants and trousers down and squeezed out a jobby into it.
Is the Free Festival a particular philosophy that you think supports your show? Or is it the opposite, that they just leave you alone to do your thing?
Before I found out about the Free Festival I had pretty much given up hope of getting on at the Edinburgh Fringe after getting rejection emails off all the main comedy promoters and PBH’s Free Fringe. Laughing Horse has luckily worked out a good fit for us and there seems to be much more of a punk ethic about the Free Festival. You have to be prepared to do a lot of the work yourself as far as finding your audience is concerned but then if you’re not up for doing that I think you’d end up playing to two men and a dog wherever you were on.
How would you describe the Free Festival
to someone who had never been to
It’s like a big share size bag of Revels. You
might get the odd coffee one but if you are
prepared to dip in again there are plenty of
Maltesers and Peanut Treets. And it’s at Asda
price as opposed to cinema multiplex.
There seems to be a pretty good vibe
between the Free Fringe acts (the launch
party is always a laugh). Do you mingle
much with the rest of them or do you
keep to yourself during the Fringe?
I’ve made some good friends in the last few
years. I don’t think the Free Festival is different
from any group of a couple of hundred people
really though. There are some great people
who you get on with really well, some you
haven’t got much in common with but who are
still friendly, a few are complete arseholes and
there’s probably one or two who are
Do you think free performers are getting a bit more confident about asking for money these days (as in, more people suggesting a tenner rather than a quid)? Are audiences willing to stick a bit more in the bucket?
I don’t see any harm in suggesting it’s OK for people to stick a fiver or a tenner in the bucket if they can afford it. You can suggest all you like but there will always be students holding a tight fist over the bucket and dropping in 15p in coppers and at the end of the day no one is going to stick a tenner in if the show they’ve just seen was a complete lump of dogshit.
Would you up sticks to the Pleasance Courtyard if they invited you?
I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening to be honest. I did visit the Pleasance Courtyard to see a show last year. It was a particularly memorable visit as in the gents toilets I encountered one of the worst example of bangers and mash I'd ever seen.
One of the problems with free shows is that it's a nightmare getting into the popular ones. Are you happy with that or would you rather see some changes to the way free shows or organised? (BTW: I'll be surprised if the City Cafe doesn't see at least one major riot during your shows)
If people turn up early enough they normally get in, though the weekends can be a bit mental. First come first served is a pretty fair system and I can’t really think of any better way of doing it. If you made the shows ticketed there’s always the danger that with tickets being free people would get more than they need and you’d end up with empty seats.
I quite like the sound of a major riot though. It would be good publicity, and not the kind that could upset any of the other comedians’ agents, unless of course Daniel Sloss got trampled to death in the melee.