The show must go on – even if there’s no one in the audience - Vladimir McTavish

The Stand’s New Town Theatre, George StreetThe Stand’s New Town Theatre, George Street
The Stand’s New Town Theatre, George Street
It’s the first Saturday of the Fringe and my show tonight at The Stand’s New Town Theatre is well on the way to selling out. It’s always nice to get the first weekend off to a good start. Sadly that is not the case for every comedian.

Already some people are panicking. I know one person who has yet to actually do his show, because on the first two days he didn’t sell a single ticket. He’s seriously considering packing up and going home, but I would encourage him to persevere. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And for every hard-luck story, there is an uplifting, heart-warming tale of a performer overcoming adversity. Like my fellow-comedian Robin Grainger. His show started on Thursday evening, and his audience figures were 25 times greater than for his opening night last year.

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Admittedly, he did start off his 2022 Fringe run playing to an audience of one. Luckily for him, comedy critic Kate Copstick happened to be in the bar next door. She did a write-up about it, the whole story went viral and he ended up on the front page of the BBC News website. He’s back this year, doing a show all about his performance to the solitary Mike from Leicester.

Small audiences can be tough and they certainly don’t pay the rent, but they can have great anecdotal value.

Back in 2017, I was doing a solo show at one of The Stand’s venues. I had sold out on the Saturday night, but the next day my pre-sales for Sunday were two. Come show time, there were still only two people in the audience. They were a Scottish couple who had seen me play to a full room the previous year and who had actually tried to buy tickets for the sold-out Saturday night.

When I suggested to them that they took their tickets to the box office and change them for another night, they explained that they had now moved to London and were flying back to Heathrow the next day. So I did the show, and thankfully they loved it. So much so that afterwards one of them bought my DVD.

Fifty per cent of the audience, still my highest-ever per capita DVD sales.