Brett Vincent is one of the big promoters at the fringe. In 2010 his shows included Jim Jeffries ALCOHOLOCAUST in the 1000 capacity McEwan Hall, and CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY featuring “Cheers” star George Wendt, “Ugly Betty” star Michael Urie and “Buzzcocks” star Phil Jupitus, both shows sold out most days.He also produced 12 other shows including Rob Rouse, Carl Donnelly, Pete Johansson, Paul Zerdin and Andrew Maxwell.
How long have you been a comedy agent?
Officially since 2002 when I was with the comedy agency Bound and Gagged. But really Martyne my assistant is the agent in Get Comedy. We also manage comedy and music acts, promote shows in London, Edinburgh and manage comedy tours throughout the UK, book a large number of music festivals like Rock Ness, Camden Crawl, Camp Bestival and Bestival, we also book festivals like Altitude Comedy Festival at Snowbombing in Mayrhofen and other comedy clubs in Europe. To name but a fraction.
What did you do before?
I was a professional DJ / Odd Job Man / Flyerer / Inventor / Salesman / Croupier / Mushroom Picker plus a shite load more shitey jobs
How did you get into Comedy?
My brother Andre Vincent is a comic and he used to give me tapes of old comics or I used to steal them from his room around 1992, around 1995 I used to go to a lot of clubs with him like the Glees, Up The Creek, Comedy Store mainly to really just meet a lot of comics and hang out with them – It wasn’t until I was about 2001 I realised I just loved watching live stand-up and could spot talent.
When did you first go to the fringe?
My first Fringe was in 1998, I think Peter Kay was nominated for the Perrier that year, but Tommy Tiernan got it. (Ed Byrne had been my favourite show). I’d had a mental couple of weeks on the Isle of Iona and came to see Andre who was on at the Pleasance. There I met a lot of comics I’d seen once or twice on the circuit and realised it was clown school and how much of a laugh it was. I went back up in 99 and DJ’d a lot of the clubs and parties whilst flyering during the day to pay for my bad habits in the evenings.
When did first starting promoting shows at the fringe?
I was working with Bound and Gagged as a flyerer so really 1998 but I basically started running the promotions side of Bound and Gagged in 2002/3. That’s when I started running the street teams, organising posters/designs/ads/housing/etc…
Did you do any promoting before that?
Yes, early in the Rave scene throughout the south coast I was the guy putting posters in windows, on lampposts, getting flyers out, collecting beeper numbers and text messaging parties. There was a lot of guerilla and direct marketing in the music/rave scene that comedy really hadn’t caught on to, so when I started promoting comedy I took a lot of those tactics with me.
You invented the ‘Roam-Ad, how did this come about?
The ‘Roam-Ad’ came from a lady sitting in the Gilded Ballon doorway with a computer flatscreen just showing people her flyer… I later found out she’d never received her flyers and that was how she had to sell the show. Feeling a little sorry for her we got permission to get the sound on quite loud and we directed people to it,within minutes she had a crowd… People were drawn to it like shit on flies. This was 2004. So within days I got a record bag, flash drive, flatscreen, 5k speaker which I amp wired up to a scooter battery and had the worlds first wearable, digital and crystal clear portable multi-media flyer. It was a hit… I think, except with the Guardian. According to sales at high peaks we were selling a ticket a minute with it on. So it paid for itself and was a bit of a laugh in the process.
When does the process begin for you preparing for the fringe and when do you start signing up clients?
This year was ridiculous. I was approached by acts in August and am still getting one act a week looking for promotional representation at the Fringe this year. I was fully booked by December and was speaking to the venues before xmas which felt weird as it’s getting so early every year. Though only one really listened so maybe it was a bit early.
Do you literally do everything for shows you’re promoting from booking venues and accommodation to sorting out posters, flyers, press releases?
Yes, all but write and direct them. Though I have never been asked to do either of those. Oh I know why, I’m not funny.
How do you choose which shows to promote?
Firstly from the stable of clients I manage, then acts I have previously promoted, then either by reputation or talent. If I have room after that I have been known to scout for acts at comedy festivals in Montreal, Dublin, Glasgow and Melbourne where I found the amazing Sammy J and Heath McIvor. Also if friends or other promoters I trust bang on to me about someone I’ll go see them. I’ve also taken an act on via youtube. Lesson learned on that one.
Before the Fringe what do you have to do?
Book venue for each show. This can take a while as places like the pleasance are loyal to certain promoters so you have to wait in line whilst they get ALL their acts in first.
Book Ad space. This is over numerous publications and on-line. I don’t write fringe entries the 40 words are down to the comic – this is their first bit of homework. ‘How to be funny and sell me, my title and the show in 40 words’ they love it – if they miss the deadlines, I do it.
Submit fringe entries, pain in the arse doing 14/15 in one go but once it’s done you then have to do the Edinburgh Comedy Festival one! Grrrh
Book accommodation, most comics like to share so it’s just about matching them up with comics that won’t kill each other or commit suicide together. Then sometimes a few big acts need fancy accommodation, that can be a pain.
Press releases, these are down to the PR person for the comic I have selected or one the comic has been working with for years.
Find a designer and organise photo shoots for posters, loads of great people for this! Steve Ullathorne, Rich Hardcastle, Andy Hollingsworth, these guys also do designs but that is one thing I enjoy doing myself. I also have the best designer and fantastic creative genus working with me as well. Approve poster design. This can take DAYS!!! A few of my recent shows have taken over 40 changes to get the image/design right. Also when sponsors and affiliates get involved it can take ages for approval.
Sort out multimedia promotional stuff like websites, YES and NO, My website will be up to date but it is down to the comic to get theirs all correct and put info on all other sources of social networking.
Organise video shoot for on line trailer, I could do this, but every act I look after is easily youtube-able.
Persuade press to do features on the show, don’t do this, this is down to the PR agent.
Book preview shows, This is a 50/50 – I pass on a lot of previews and also book some myself so in a way it is both I and the comic seeking previews.
Give acts feedback on the show I do this a lot though I can never really get to previews early on in Edinburgh as that is always the most busiest time. I do try and make sure I see at least one preview of everyones show I am taking to Edinburgh.
Other ballaches include hiring flyerers, poster placement and street campaigns, radio campaigns, booking late night gigs, pulling late night gigs, finding props, sponsors, lighting design, brochure design, clearing music and PRS, finding giant projector screens, 3D projectors, 17,000 3D specs, sorting freight, budgets, ticket prices, days off, street team manager, 9 foot inflatable pokemon monster, also if they need a director, choreographer, pyrotechnic, a cleaner to wipe up paint that had been squirted from a naked Ukrainian ladies rectum (Jim Rose). etc..etc..
When do you arrive in Edinburgh?
Straight after Camp Bestival – I normally leave the festival Monday morning and on a train to Edinburgh for about 8pm arrival 3 days before the first show. After Edinburgh I spend 5 days in bed and then start heading to Bestival.
What is a typical day like for you when you’re there during the fringe?
You don’t get typical days at the fringe! But it could consist of checking ticket sales, checking flyerers, putting slash’s on posters, speaking to the PR about needing more press for more slash’s, speaking to venue managers about not having enough posters up, trying not to cause trouble, checking flyerers, trying to see a show, making sure everyone is OK and explaining to all my acts why tickets numbers were up/down and also letting them know if there was no press in or that they had press in. Missing shows, following that off with a trip to the Loft Bar probably to repeat said sentence a few more times. Possibly go put more posters up? Kiss my lady and retreat to bed..
After Edinburgh what do you do for the acts?
Mainly chase payment also follow-up on the comp tickets that were given out willy-nilly by the venues and PR and track down any work or thoughts on the show or the comic. Chase payment. Work out the budget for each and every act so we know how much an act has won/lost. Chase Payment. Console/Congratulate acts. Chase Payment.
What does George Wendt smell like?
What’s you favourite memory of the fringe?
Myself and my best mate Sam, waking up Thursday and going to bed Monday morning over the last weekend in 2003. We DJ’d the ‘So You Think You’re Funny Party’, ‘Perrier’ Party, Gilded Ballon Night Club and had 4 mad/ legendary house parties on Spottiswoode St. one of them with my Mum who only arrived at 2am and woke up to a house full of comics at 7.30am, within 20 minutes she’d introduced herself to everyone and got a bunch of probably 10 very spangled, now very famous comics hanging on her every word. We left to got to work about 1 and she kept them all entertained or kicked them out once they’d woke up and then she left the next day to catch her connecting flight? She became a bit of a legend that year and it sticks out in my head as a great year for all.. – but really, every year gets better. I Just pray it don’t rain!
Brett ‘s production credits at previous Edinburgh Fringe festivals include:- Stewart Lee, Jerry Sadowitz, Omid Djalili, Marcus Brigstocke, Stephen K Amos, Craig Charles, Rhys Darby, Jim Bowen, Jim Rose, Roy Walker, Ben Dover (Porn Star), Rob Newman, Tim Vine and Howard Marks.