Friday, 30 November 2012

Edinburgh Outside the Fringe

The Fringe is wrapped up and everyone, except a few local enthusiasts like me, have disappeared and gone home.

Whilst I try to support live comedy all year round, a mixture of work and personal commitments and lack of cash prevent me from getting out as much as I like and seeing acts... and when I do, I tend to go to the cheaper new act gigs, partly because of the price, but also because I like to see up and coming acts and keep my finger on the pulse.

We all know that Kevin Bridges or Jimmy Carr will sell out the Playhouse or the Festival Theatre and The Stand will sell out at the weekend with the best acts all going there.

But outside of that, what is there for comedy enthusiasts in Edinburgh? Not a lot to be honest. It seems that most Edinburgers prefer to feast on comedy and culture during August and barely dip their toes in the rest of the year.

The Beehive Inn runs comedy three nights per week (Friday and Saturday plus a weekday new acts night) and a few comics occasionally run other nights in upstairs rooms of pubs, including a good monthly one at The Counting House. I've been to both the Beehive and the Counting House and audiences have been decidedly average. There are some good new acts competitions including the Laughing Horse (next up on 5th and 6th December) and the Scottish Comedian of the Year competition gets a lot of publicity too.

But all of the above doesn't exactly represent a lot of bums on seats and many of them will be visitors from outside Edinburgh (or friends and relatives of the acts in the case of the competitions).

So why is it that locals don't venture out to see live comedy during the rest of the year? Perhaps they don't think that they'll get the same quality? But in my experience, that worry is simply unfounded.

My friend Nik Coppin, (whom I've mentioned before on the blog) is coming to Edinburgh this weekend with his Shaggers Christmas Special tour. I spoke to him just before tickets went on sale he was slightly unsure about his decision to come to Edinburgh.

"I'm just not sure about Edinburgh outwith the Fringe" He said "We come here during the Festival and put on a show for free and that's fine because we're part of the Free Festival which means we are not forking out as much on expenses, but when you come to Edinburgh the rest of the year you've got a lot of costs to cover and you're not always confident you'll get it back".

But take a look at his show... It's at the same venue as during the Festival... The upstairs room at the Three Sisters so it's slap bang in the middle of town during party season. He's got a great line up including local favourite Bruce Fummey as well as Sameena Zehra, Paul Gannon and Janice Phayre. Tickets are only £10, reasonably priced for a Saturday night with all pros on the bill!

Yet he thinks he's going to have to flyer like mad just to get enough people to break even.

The lure of a sell out Fringe show seems to do the trick in other cities throughout UK, but not in Edinburgh itself it seems!

So here is my shameless plug... Get out and see Shaggers! Or if you can't make it, go and see some new acts during the week at the Comedy Competition at the Beehive! The only way for the comedy scene in Edinburgh to improve, is for people to get out and support it!