Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Fringe Survival Guide part two

2. Plan Carefully.

To see everything you want is impossible, but with a bit of thought and planning you can see most things on your wish-list. It also helps if you're ever-so-slightly anal.

Some shows will sell out quickly: special offers, well-known comics, acts who did well the previous year. These will often be "known quantities", so should be a fair guarantee of enjoyment. Book up at least one evening of this sort of thing in advance. Then wait until the festival actually starts, read some reviews, sense who the buzz is about - and book up further shows then. Finally, always leave at least one evening unplanned until you get up there - some of the best shows you will see will be following the recommendation of someone you met in a queue.

When planning an evening of shows, take the city's geography into account. Try to book things on the same night at the same venue, if possible. You don't want to be tearing all over the city to get to your next show - you want to be gently supping a beer in the Pleasance Courtyard, acting all cultural and saying things like, "ooh look, it's Richard Herring."

Pace yourself too - leave time to chat, eat, drink and do all the things you would do in normal polite society. Shows will run late - leave at least half an hour between them.

Be democratic. It's best to go in a big group, so you will need to take everybody's views into account. Unless they suggest going to see Jimmy Carr, in which case ignore them by all means.

Vary what you see. You will quickly develop stand-up fatigue - the same jokes will start to appear, and you may even start to speak in the rhythms of the comic. Should this happen, either get someone to hit you (there should be an orderly queue forming amongst your party), or do something else for a bit. If all you like is comedy, see some sketch shows. Otherwise, see a play, see some art, even see some "physical theatre" (at some point every Fringe-goer must see some incomprehensible Polish interpretive dance - no-one will take you seriously otherwise).

And above all, relax. It's not worth getting too stressed about it all. If all else fails, you can just turn up at a venue and see the next thing going. If it's the worst thing you've ever seen, sit in a bar with your group and rant about exactly how shit it was. Some of my fondest Fringe memories are of doing precisely that.

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