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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.