Wearing a lanyard on the street? You may as well be walking around shouting 'Look at me, I’m doing a show!' - Vladimir McTavish
This is showing-off of the worst kind. They may as well be walking around the street with a loudhailer shouting “Look at me, I’m doing a show!”
The fact is that nobody needs to wear their lanyard and artist’s pass where they are out and about on the street. The only time they need to be shown is to get backstage access and to take advantage of any discounts that may be offered at bars in their venue.
In fact, by now, even that should be unnecessary. If front of house and bar staff don’t recognise you by the second Saturday of the Fringe, that’s a surefire sign that your show is on the skids.
I have even seen some idiots wearing their performers’ passes on stage. They obviously had so little faith in their ability that they had to have a badge around their neck so that the audience could work out what they were doing there.
I can understand people wanting to get any discounts going, as doing the Fringe is an expensive business. I’m fortunate that I live in Edinburgh all year round, so I don’t have to face the crippling accommodation costs that many of my fellow performers are having to deal with this month.
Every year, my wife and I suddenly become very popular in August, as long-lost friends get in touch asking it we have a spare room or a couch or a floor to sleep on. This year, we have two comedians staying for the full Fringe, plus random folks staying overnight. I opened the cupboard under the stairs yesterday and another comedian fell out. Apparently, they’d been staying there since Tuesday night.
We’ve even got another old friend staying in his camper van in our garden. Globetrotting stand up Nick Wilty is doing a show called Veteran Comedian at the Gilded Balloon’s Patter Hoose on Chambers Street.
It is all about his experiences as a young soldier serving in the Falklands War in 1982.
He was struggling to sell tickets over the first weekend, and reckoned that the total audience numbers for the first two days could actually have fitted into his van. Things then took a bit of a turn when he was arrested last Saturday.
For some reason, he decided to fly a drone over Edinburgh Castle, which very quickly attracted the attention of the Military Police.
They summoned the civilian plods who confiscated the drone and his phone.
In the meantime, Nick was chatting away to the military cops about his Falklands experience, and they came to his show the following day. That’s how far some people will go to get an audience.
Without doubt, the unluckiest comedian at this year’s Fringe is my old mate Raymond Mearns, one of Scotland’s finest stand-ups and a true force of nature. He suffered a stroke last weekend and has had to cancel his entire run.
The Stand will be holding a benefit show for him, featuring Frankie Boyle and Fred MacAulay, at the New Town Theatre on Tuesday, August 22. Even if you see nothing else, make sure you see that show.