Edinburgh Eight Steps

Eight Steps To A Better Fringe: Q1

Published on Sunday 28 July 2019

This summer we are asking some of our favourite Fringe people to offer their advice – sometimes sensible, sometimes silly – for getting the most out of the Edinburgh Festival in eight steps, by answering out eight quick quiz questions. Here are the answers to question one…

Beyond posters and reviews, how do you suggest people pick shows to see at this year’s Fringe?

Joz Norris: Oh boy, oh boy, talk to people. Sometimes the most incredible shows aren’t even the ones with all the great reviews or the most eye-catching posters. See what people are really excited to tell you about, it might be something that’s flying completely under the radar.

Julia Croft: Listen to the word of mouth. Once the Festival is underway, you quickly start hearing from folks about the shows you cannot miss. And take a few chances – see something you might not usually go to see.

Chelsea McGuffin: Take a risk! There is so much on and so much to see. See something suggested, see a must-see show and see a bunch of things you have never heard of, or a style or form that is new to you. Edinburgh is something to be experienced so get in amongst it!

Al Samuels: Poll three or four Fringe super-nerds for recommendations. There are some people who somehow fit 50-60 shows in over the month.

Andy Field: One of the great things about the Fringe is how many bad shows there are and I love a bad show! A few years ago I found a Shakespearean-style tragedy based on the trial of Oscar Pistorious. They gave out stickers that said Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, PISTORIOUS. You just don’t get to see people taking such bold, ill-advised creative punts that often in life, so you have to grab these opportunities with both hands. Someone flyers you for a show that sounds objectively terrible? Go to it. It only takes an hour and you might see something that stays with you forever.

Scream Phone: Word of mouth is a HUGE deal at the Fringe, so ask your friends and family what they have seen that they would recommend. And following on from that, spread the word when you see something you love! Twitter, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr… tell everyone!

Tanya Agarwal: Flyers! We’ve seen some brilliant things we found out about from random flyers that we’ve been given. The Fringe is such a great place to see things that you would normally never see and be pleasantly surprised – for the most part!

John-Luke Roberts: Take a few chances. Follow your heart and your impulses and go and see something you’d never normally see. Best case scenario, you see something brilliant you never expected, worst case scenario you have a great story about when you saw that awful one man production of ‘Finnegans Wake’ performed in Spanish and couldn’t leave because you were in the middle of a row.

Ian Smith: Word of mouth is probably the best way to choose a show – find a like-minded friend and see what they’ve enjoyed the most. Also, it’s worth just taking a chance and seeing something at random, because there is so much going on, you never know what might blow you away.

James Rowland: Absolutely word of mouth. If someone you like recommends you something, chances are you’ll like that too.

Susan Harrison: Chatting to people in queues can be a good way to hear about which shows are capturing people’s imaginations, as word of mouth really does count for a lot at the Fringe. I also like the randomness of going to see the first thing you get flyered for – whatever it is! – as that way you are pretty much guaranteed to see something unexpected.

Just These Please: Talk to literally anyone: people in queues, people in bars, people in bins (there’s a lot of weirdos in Edinburgh during August) and ask for their recommendation. Word of mouth makes the Festival. Just check why they saw the show first, cause there’s always a good chance that they’re the performer’s mum.

The Thinking Drinkers: Try and pick up on word of mouth, speak to people in pubs and coffee shops, have a look on Twitter and listen to any Fringe podcasts. But more importantly than all that, just buy a ticket for the next show that’s on near you – especially if it’s not something you’ve heard of or it’s something you’d not normally choose. It may be rubbish, it may be absolutely brilliant. It’s what the Festival is all about.

Micky Overman: Take recommendations! If there’s a performer you particularly like, look on Twitter to see if they’ve tweeted out recommendations. Lots do! If they haven’t, ask them to do it! That way you get to know about acts you maybe otherwise wouldn’t necessarily consider/know about.

Jordan & Skinner: Ask a local! Many Edinburgh folk are well seasoned Fringe-goers and often know where to go to take a risk and where to go when you want to see something specific.

Samantha Pressdee: Close your eyes, open the Fringe brochure at a random page and then spit on it. Go see the person who’s face you’ve just spat on. It’s only fair that you show them some support after what you’ve just done!

Alex Gwyther: Understand that reviews are subjective, so if it’s a topic you’re interested in – or if it grabs your attention – don’t be put off by reviews. Go and see it. Also, word of mouth. Listen to people’s recommendations and definitely give recommendations. It helps a lot!

Natano Fa’anana: Ask someone working at one of the cafe stalls or bars or food outlets near the venues. They usually hear what audiences have to say about the shows. Or just take a punt. There are literally thousands of shows to choose from and there’s a real chance you might stumble across a diamond in the rough.

Oliver Forsyth: It’s a tough one, but I always get swayed into shows based on a good, old-fashioned flyering pitch. If the person talking to you can get you interested or get you laughing, then the chances are they can do that on stage as well. Anyone can have a good poster.

Sukh Ojla: Word of mouth and Twitter are great resources. Keep an open mind and look beyond comedy and theatre!

Naomi McDonald: Occasionally it’s fun to let the shows pick you. Some of my favourite experiences were when I was so hungover I didn’t have the energy to say no to a pushy flyerer and was coerced into seeing something totally random. Yes it was awful, but that’s Fringe life baby!

James McNicholas: Throw a dart in Bristo Square, and whichever comedian it hits, you see their show.

Eric Lampaert: Take risks. Playing safe is boring. That’s what the large majority of people do with the rest of their life, so don’t do it at a festival. Get weird and challenge yourself to try new flavours.

Robyn Perkins: My top tip is compilation shows. Compilation shows are a great way to see a lot of acts in an hour, and get a feel for what you like. I’ve HEARD there is a great one at 1.30 in the afternoon called ‘Laugh Train Home’ with an amazing host (me!). I’ve heard. Also, talk to other punters. Word of mouth is a great way to find hidden gems. Talk to audiences at shows you like. Or if you like a performer, ask THEM who they recommend. Ask everyone! There are so many styles of shows, one person’s top show may not be someone else’s.

Ed Night: Use a website to randomly generate a number between one and 200. Open the Fringe Guide to that page, then Blu Tac it on to your wall open at that page. Go down to Argos and buy some darts – don’t forget to bring your ID! – then throw a dart at the Fringe guide. See which show it lands on and then come to mine instead. Alternatively, check your favourite comedian / actor / musician/writer’s Twitter page. A lot of people are recommending their favourite shows to see.