May 2012 – the month that sanity forgot

May 2012 is definitely going down in history as possibly the most bonkers 4 weeks ever – but not necessarily in a bad way.  We did 15 gigs (lots but doable), got 20 standing ovations (good arrows), covered 2500 miles (so…?) , I left my job of 7 years  (okay that’s quite extreme), we bought a car whilst on the way back from a gig (possibly ill advised), Doug got tattooed (ouch!)  and we won an award (big fat yay!).  All of this going on whilst essentially taking part in Brighton Fringe for most of the month.

Suggested new poster for Brighton Fringe

Last year’s Brighton run proved to be a good gage of how Edinburgh went, so given that Brighton 2012 run sold out, we’re really hoping that the same thing will happen again.  Though hoping isn’t really terribly helpful..if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last year its that ticket sales don’t happen due to any one thing… and this is true for Brighton and Edinburgh.  Talking to people after the show about where they heard about it, it really is all kinds of places.  Some through the brochure, some from flyers, some just googled, some from the Bfringe site, some saw Doug at the launch party back in April some saw him at Vive Le Cabaret at the Komedia at the start of the Brighton Fringe.  So take nothing for granted.

Award!!

Now I have 10 days off between my old 3 day a week job in London and my new exciting job in digital marketing at MMK in Norwich.  I say 10 days off…. but actually we’re still touring so I will finish this post now as we’re about to leave for Nelson Ace Centre in Lancashire where Doug’s the headline act, then down to London again tomorrow.

The Islington Ninja Gig

Last month arrived with a dilemma. Various sorts of important people needed to see the show, at short notice, in a good venue and fast! Do we risk asking them to come out of their way to see the show, knowing that if they turned us down we’d lose the opportunity to work with them or do we go balls out and try and turn around a London gig at zero notice in a decent venue, and probably make a loss.

Answer: Bite the bullet and do the balls out uber fast London date.

Enter ‘THE ISLINGTON NINGA GIG’

We’d heard that the Hen and Chickens Islington was renowned as a great place for previews so we booked it – on the only date they had – which was only 8 days later… agghh! Not much time to promote really is it? So we resigned ourselves to losing money and probably performing to the important people in question with a half empty theatre .. but still better than nothing at all and its an investment right?

However, to our surprise the risk paid off. Not only did everyone come as required, but we got the added bonus of having the lovely people we’ll be working with from Mick Perrin’s team in attendance.

And …. we sold out!!! We were turning people away….

So, we learned several things that night:

Invest in your future – Don’t take important risks with people who are going to help you. Bite the bullet and make it easy for them to see you even if it means investing time, money and a lot of effort – they are important if you want to make a step change in what you do.

Team is important – help them help you, getting them to see your show is really important, for them and for you. Their enthusiasm and feedback was wonderful. So thank you to Rowan and Sarah for coming from Brighton at short notice on a Tuesday night and for being so supportive.

A decent venue is worth the riskThe Hen and Chickens is a great theatre for previews… the staff in the pub downstairs are helpful, Mark who runs the theatre is a delight, and they have a loyal clientele who come and see preview shows …even at short notice.

WIN!

It made the 2 hour drive home and the 4 hours sleep I got before getting up for work the next day so much more worth the sacrifice.

Level Up!

My blog from last year tracked the ups and downs of our first year doing anything like this.  I think we can definitely say it was a success – the ups to downs ratio was healthy.  Amazing stuff happened and we were overwhelmed not to mention excited with the success. 

As a quick recap: we sold out Brighton Fringe, did some great previews, sold out EdFringe, got lots of great reviews had Neil Gaiman come into see the show and secured Mick Perrin as our promoter for EdFringe 2012.  On top of all this we met some really fantastic people and made some awesome friends.  You can read above all this in lots more detail if you’re interested – ‘Fringetrimmings’.

However.. that’s all great and lovely … but everyone says each year is a totally different ball game so it seemed appropriate to have a totally new blog to cover our adventures doing Edfringe year two.  I say its about Edfringe because that’s the ‘Big Kahuna’ and unlike anything else, but I’ll also talk about the run up events like associated gigs, festivals and other shizz.

This time around the stakes are high.  The opportunity is ‘Uber’ so the main focus is being bigger and better and generally.. trying not to screw it up.

One of the main observations in my last post of Fringetrimmings is that the whole excercise is like a game of super mario.  If you get to the end of the level and you score enough points you get the ‘boss fight’ and move up a level.  This is not the end of the game it means that the following year you’re staring in the face of something  which seems familiar, but actually the challenges are different, higher, harder but even more impressive if you conquer them.

Mad Feb - the dots are gigs or events we're doing. Some how in all this I also managed to fit in a 'Hen Week' in Tenerife

My second observation is that there’s no such thing as a quiet period.  Jan, Feb, March are supposed to be ‘down time’ for a touring show and also corporate performances.  But our February calendar has been insane with work both paid and promotional stuff.

My third and final observation of this post builds on this last point about being busy …. in that the reason were quite so mad busy is that if people offer us opportunities to get involved in promoting the fringe – we what to do them.  It gives something back and its good exposure for us.

Fringe Roadshow panel - Doug's second from the left dishing out 'dubious advice' as he puts it

It is quite weird being asked to be on a panel of experts at the Edfringe roadshows talking about how to have a successful show.  Doug and I remember being in awe of Frisky and Mannish last year talking about their Edfringe debut on the roadshow podcasts.  Its odd yet wonderful to be asked to do it this year.

Equally being asked to take part in the Brighton Fringe launch was a huge honor.  We so enjoyed meeting up with new people (many of which we’d already talked to on Twitter) and meeting friends we’d made last year.  It was worth the trip alone just to see Mr B perform again!

However, all this stuff is great but ultimately striking the balance between doing all these things and not over stretching ourselves is the tricky bit.

When you’ve been too busy to remember you need milk for tea in the morning then you know something’s gotta give.

Doug and I are capable of nothing without 3 cups before 9am.