Liam Rudden: Gimmicks galore

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A TOY tractor, a finely crafted marionette, half a moustache on a stick and a phial of what I hope was moisturiser purporting to be the sperm of a Nobel prize winner.

Just some of the weird and wonderful gimmicks I’ve been sent over the years by acts coming to Edinburgh for the Fringe, all desperately trying to grab attention. Some, it has to be said, work better than others.

Yes, come July, opening the mail is like having your very own daily lucky dip. In fact, right now, my desk looks like a bric-a-brac stall...

There’s a squeezy stress eye-ball, that I think came from the Edinburgh Dungeon; a cardboard pair of Yelevision glasses (from Rob Auton to promote The Yellow Show, poetry and stand-up and The Banshee Labyrinth, August 4-25); some mini-shovels, which double as spoons for eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream; and the container of faux bodily fluids - a gimmick for a 2009 Fringe show called A Stroke of Genius.

There’s also the obligatory collection of novelty condoms, badges and various bits of desk furniture.

In other words, if you are coming to Edinburgh and thinking any of the aforementioned items will create an extra buzz about your press release, sorry, it’s been done.

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to for a good review. The producer of a four-star show once offered me, “A bottle of wine? A meal? My sister? Myself!?!’ for the elusive fifth star.

Of course I declined all four, and though he was laughing at the time... well, you never know. Truth is, as ‘novel’ as these gimmicks are, and though they do raise a laugh in the office, there’s nothing better than word of mouth when seeking out a must-see show at the Fringe.

Which is why I’ll have my ear to the ground over the next few weeks, searching out the best of the Festival and highlighting them here in The Guide, as well as tweeting the results - you can follow me on Twitter @LiamRudden).

As they say, watch this space.