(This was originally posted on comedy.co.uk here)
I’ve been going up to the Edinburgh Fringe since 2011 and along the way I’ve picked up some hints and tips that might be helpful for people who are going up for the first time this year. However if you’ve been going for ages and don’t need advice, this isn’t for you. These are the things I try to do up there after years of learning how to not spend the month being a dick.
1) Drink at least 2 litres of water a day. You may think this is a no-brainer but you wouldn’t believe the amount of dry ass looking comedians you see walking around those cobbled streets. Basically 2 litres of water a day helps your brain to stay hydrated, which help stops you from getting those little shitty negative voices in your head that tell you that you’re missing out on everything and everyone hates you. ALSO comedian Sooz Kempner once told me that the main cause for voice strain is dehydration and once you’re dehydrated it takes about 4 hours for that water you are drinking to reach your vocal chords, so keeping up on the water will stop you from sounding like Deidre Rashid on day 6. Whilst you are first trying to hydrate you will piss a lot, but after a while you’ll piss once or twice a day. Like a dry plant the water will go straight through to begin with. Once you’re at full hydration, it’s all fine. ALSO if you’re one of those knob heads who spend a shit tonne of money to go to Edinburgh and then spend the entire month pissed, then water will also help you from maintaining the ‘functioning alcoholic’ status until you get to September when your body gives way and you constantly update your social media with ‘LURGY’ ‘FRINGE FLU’ and ‘I HAVE DIED’. Which brings me on to the next point…
2) Don’t get pissed all month. You’ve spent a fuck tonne of money going to Edinburgh, a shit tonne of time preparing and annoyed everyone on the internet for ages promoting to then spend the whole month poisoning yourself? Don’t drink at all OR if you are going to, just drink a couple times a week. Being drunk is funny if you’re Charlie Chaplin (he wasn’t actually drunk) but up in Edinburgh it does the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve up there. Nobody invests any time into drunks. Also everything is already hard up there and the effects of booze make it all 100 times harder.
3) Treat yourself to a flyerer. That money you save on booze could afford you a flyerer. Look at it this way, 2 pints / 2 glasses of wine will get you a flyerer for an hour. Being alone and rejected all day by passers by is no way to prepare before a show. Pay a flyerer to come help you OR buy two and don’t do any at all. Flyering is a load of old shit and no performers like to do it. There are forums on Facebook where people are looking for work up at the fringe. £8 – £10 an hour will get you someone and if you get someone to do it with you, it means you can make sure they don’t just bin the flyers and go for a pint instead.
4) Get some good walking shoes / boots. You are going to be walking A LOT. You want something that supports your arches. It will stop back pain and keep you feeling energised.
5) Sleep good. 7 – 8 hours a night will keep the energy flowing. Audiences can tell a tired comedian instantly and you’re asking them for an hour of their time.
6) Eat a bunch of carbs 2 hours before your show. Not sugar, but like pasta is good. Just a big hearty meal. You’ll be buzzing like a wasp in a cup mate.
7) Achieve something other than comedy every day. Signing up to gyms, yoga, walking up the inactive volcano, sight-seeing, getting out of the city. Get away from performing and performers at least once every day. Too much of that will make you go doolally. This is a good pub to do work in or eat or be away from the middle of the city: Lioness Of Leith. A lovely chap called Benny owns it and it’s just a very nice place to go to and it’s away from everything. It has old 80s arcade machines, pool table and the food is lovely.
8) Unfollow all comedians on social media for August. Comparison is a performer’s greatest enemy in Edinburgh. All the times I’ve cried in Edinburgh it’s been because I’m comparing myself to others. Everyone on social media is posting the best bits of themselves to get people in. It ain’t real. You are on your own journey, fuck everyone else’s for that month.
9) Speak to normal people outside the festival every day. Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Nan or Grandad, aunties or uncles, best mates from way back. Normal people are the best and they will keep you and your ego in check.
10) Think of it as a job and lessen the emotional impact. If it doesn’t feel like it’s going well, problem solve until it does. Don’t despair. As soon as you give up it feels a waste, every experience is a new moment you’ll know how to deal with next time it comes around.
11) Eat well at home. Do a big shop, cook for friends, have people over. Eat greens. Cause it’s expensive to eat out well in Scotland. They’ll batter anything for cheap, but good grub is a bit of a strain on the bank balance.
12) No matter how big your audience, anything can happen. Be on your A-game all the time. You never know who has turned up to watch you. Don’t be disheartened by small crowds. They are the shows that prove that your shows structure is a strong one.
13) Take your own duvet and pillows. Trust me. Whatever overpriced shit hole you’ve been made to rent will not have your standard of duvet and pillows.
14) Dance. Find somewhere that plays good tunes and go for a bloody boogie, flirt with some people, get laid and loosen up. It’s so tense up there, dancing is always the key I find. Sitting in ‘artist bars’ talking about comedy is so dull. DANCING IS NOT.
15) Don’t read any reviews at all. I failed at this last year and it made me so sad one day that I didn’t want to get up and go outside. Don’t read yours, don’t read other people’s, just don’t read them. They are for audiences if anything and we’re not an audience, we are the performer. If we don’t read any reviews there’s no power in them right?
16) I’m full of shit, I never take my own advice. Do what you want.