It’s not funny how much work it is being a comedian
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs from August 3-27. So all I need to do is turn up, do my shows and leave. When I’m not sleeping off a hangover, probably use my spare time to check out some castles, attempt to digest some haggis and have a look for the Loch Ness Monster.
Being a comedian sounds awesome. Once you get past that whole fear of talking in public, and fear of people not laughing. Then there’s that first time nobody laughs, and you’re so embarrassed and shattered, you never want to do it again.
Get over all that, make people laugh on a regular basis and you’re at work for a maximum of three hours a night. Usually much less, and not only do they serve alcohol at your workplace, often you get it for free.
I wish. Most of my work happens offstage. It’s still a week and a half from my first ever Edinburgh Fringe, and I’ve already been preparing for months.
With nearly 3,000 shows all competing to sell tickets, the only way to stand out is to already be famous, sleep with someone famous and put it on YouTube, or to work really hard.
Since I’m not already famous, back in February I started to work really hard. At sleeping with a celebrity. It made Kim Kardashian famous, and Liz Hurley. Apparently she had some profile before Shane Warne, but I’d never heard of her.
So I began searching for my very own celebrity squeeze. However, with Paris Hilton out of the country, and both Delta Goodrem and Lara Bingle in relationships, the options were very limited. After a month of hearing nothing back from Dannii Minogue, it seemed that I was actually going to have to do it all myself.
Step one was to find a venue. Which involved filling out application forms, and bothering producers with DVDs of my material, and invites to Australian festivals where I was performing. Every year the big venues in Edinburgh get hundreds more applications than they have available spaces. Several emails and international phone calls later, I was lucky enough to get a slot with C-Venues in the centre of town.
Next I had to put together the deposit, including registration fees. Now comedy does not pay well. At all. It is common for comedians who headline around Australia to work part or full time jobs. You know when you’re at the supermarket, and the guy on the checkout looks like that comedian from the telly? That’s because it is the comedian from the telly.
To scrape together the deposit, I saved up money from gigs, and worked as a freelance copywriter, kitchen hand and electricity meter reader. Seriously. The meter reading was fun, apart from being chased by dogs and asked several times a day, ‘Why is my bill so high?’ and ‘Are smart meters a tool of the devil?’ The answer to that last one is, ‘Of course they are. That little red light on them, that’s Satan.’
Even when I’m not getting ready for a festival, I spend a maximum of an hour a day writing material. The rest of the time, I seem to be doing the type of full time job I was hoping to avoid by becoming a comedian.
At the beginning of June, I wrote press releases, put together marketing plans and worked with graphic designers on poster artwork. Not funny or fun at all, but nobody is going to do it for you. Unless you can afford to pay someone because you’ve made it, or your parents made it and don’t mind wasting their money on your dreams.
Over the last few weeks I’ve sent over 600 emails, trying to generate some interest in my two shows, Binge Thinking and News Smash. So far I’ve gotten eight replies. That included four, ‘Please never contact me again’. British people are so polite, even when they’re angry. To the list of jobs involved in being a comedian you can also add, ‘Sales and Marketing’.
Then there’s booking flights and accommodation, finding other gigs to do while you’re over there, and on and on. As this is my first Edinburgh Fringe, I’ve been told several times to expect to make a loss of over $10,000. After the festival, most performers need a second job to cover the huge debt they’ve incurred. I can’t afford that. Every day of the Fringe I’ll be facing the dilemma – do I eat or drink? I’ll probably drink.
So that’s me. Emailing, organising, promoting, working for money, and when I should be sleeping, I’m writing and rehearsing. Until Dannii Minogue replies to one of my emails.
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