One of the reasons people choose to go to the fringe is to network with other acts and agents. Every year before the fringe starts I’ve received emails and phone calls from agents and acts looking for a spot in my show “The Great Big Comedy Picnic” even though we don’t have guests spots.
When I started the show in 2003 I did have guest spots in it from some pretty established acts such as Alan Carr and Jason Manford. Compilation shows are really popular with free festival audiences because it allows them to see as many acts as possible when they’re at the fringe and because it gives them an idea whether they like a comedian enough to go and watch their solo show.
These compilations have always been a recognised way of getting audiences into a show and comics are keen to do them because they get a better audience return rate by making 25 people laugh in a gig than by standing on the royal mile randomly handing out bits of paper.
So it strikes me that if you want to start making networking connections with comics and their agents putting on a showcase is a good way to go about it. You’ll have to foot the bill yourself and it’s up to you how you divide the collection money at the end. Whether you give the acts a door split which will make you really popular or offer nothing more than the chance to hand out flyers to people when they leave the show. Normal rules about payment don’t apply at the fringe so as long as you are up front with people when you book them you shouldn’t have any problems. You might even consider giving the collection money to charity after you’ve recouped your expenses.
To book comics you’ll need to keep a diary accurately, confirm the gig on the day and make sure you run everything to time.
If you’re a new act it’s a good way to get a compering slot every day and if you’re there doing a show it’s another show to do a day.