A short syndicated interview with Ian Fox about the his new book How to Produce, Perform and Write an Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Show First published 1st March 2012. If writing publicity for the book feel free to copy and paste anything for your article.
How many shows have you produced at the Fringe?
Off the top of my head 14 I think, of those 11 of them were stand-up compilation shows. The other three were solo hour-long stand-up shows.
How many people have asked you advice over the years?
Far too many to have kept track of. During the rest of the year at nearly every gig someone usually asks me something in passing, plus there are the quiet sit downs with a cup of coffee with comics who want to do shows, where we talk about all aspects of it.
The book is based on your blog site, how did the blog come about?
The blog started by accident. In fact thinking about it producing shows came about by accident. It wasn’t something I planned on doing it just happened.
In 2010, on the last day of the fringe I was sitting outside the Gilded Balloon which was quieter than it had been during the rest of the festival, sitting there with a cup of tea and a free ice cream – one of the vans was trying to get rid of its stock before the end of the business day - pretty much the only sound you could hear around the city was suitcase wheels on pavement, as everyone was leaving. I started thinking I should write down the stuff that I’d learned at the festival that year, as a reference for my memory and to help out anyone who was going to be doing a show next year.
So when I got home that was what I did. I put it on WordPress because they don’t delete anything. I thought there was a good chance the article would stay there long after I lost interest.
That first article started getting read, and then people started emailing and leaving messages on forums saying they really enjoyed it, and from there the site grew as I started adding new bits here and there and doing interviews with critics, promoters and comics about the Fringe.
Some time after that Ashley Frieze suggested that I turned everything on the site into an electronic book. As a way of getting the same material to a different audience.
I’m a bit traditional with books as I like mine on paper. So I started researching publishing companies who dealt with theatre production books. They all passed on it. Mainly because the upfront cost of printing books made it unlikely they’d do any more than break even in the long-term.
During the Fringe in 2011 loads of comics kept coming up to me saying “are you Ian fox? I’ve read your blog all year it’s really helpful” and a few of them suggested I did a book. I started to think that as there were no overheads with an eBook and on-demand printing that might be a way of getting the material out to people who would find it useful without any financial risk. Downside is the marketing falls on me to push the book.
In October 2011, I started writing up the book. The idea of repackaging stuff already on the site seemed a bit pointless. So I started reworking everything, adding more first hand experiences, to tie in with the factual stuff in the articles.
Ashley offered to edit it, which I’m grateful for because proof reading stuff isn’t my strong point. Not that great at writing coherent sentences either sometimes.
Amazon seemed the easiest option for selling an electronic book as they’re pretty much the world’s biggest bookseller, so I was writing to fit their format, then right before publication John Fleming suggested I should think about publishing with Lulu. Which I’m really grateful for that suggestion because I’m really happy with the quality of their printing. I was really impressed when the postman brought it.
What is the point of the book?
Mainly just to help out anyone who wants to put on a show. And hopefully save them money and help them get the most out of it.
What problems did you have writing it?
Aside from the general lack of discipline when it comes to sitting down and writing stuff. The biggest problem was trying to work out when stuff happened at the Fringe. If you’ve never been there for the month it’s just a complete assault of the senses. I can tell you everything that has ever happened at the Fringe when I’ve been there. I just can’t tell you the order it happened in.
The other problem was writing about stuff that was a relevant but where not all of those involved come out of it looking good. It can be a strain doing a show and some people react differently to others, people become stressed out and act out of character, others have had breakdowns or just generally become unreasonable. These things are relevant to the experience and problems you can come up against putting on a show but years later it seems unfair to highlight people for having had those problems. So I’ve used pseudonyms or missed names out completely because they are all real stories and real people.
I’ve enjoyed the bits when my friends have looked through the book since it’s come out, read passages and laughed then asked “so who was that then?”
How do you get hold of a book?
What are you favourite fringe memories?
There’s too many times when I’ve ended up laughing till my sides hurt, to single out any one thing. I think the memory that always comes to mind are those times when I go for a wander around the town when its past midnight and there are street performers juggling fire and musicians still out on the Royal Mile and people walking around like it was the middle of the day. Even at that time of night the place still has this incredible atmosphere.