Park Bench Life
Thought I'd mix things up this week for my non-existent readership and do a Monday blog instead (basically I forgot over the weekend).
It's been a busy weekend though, travelling to South Wales with my family. It was partly for my granddad to reminisce about his time in the Rhondda Valley when he was a child, growing up, and we in turn learnt a lot about the area, and our family history. It was quite lovely really, and a nice time away, however, the main purpose of the visit was business. I was set to perform in the inaugural Merthyr Tydfil comedy festival!
The opening night was amazing, and I got to see the absolutely amazing Mike Wilmot headline the showcase. It was a true masterclass, and my stomach genuinely ached from laughter.
The next day of comedy, however, not so ideal.
I didn't really get to see any other shows*, unfortunately, and when it came to my own show, no one got to see that either! As it ticked over to 5pm for my show to start, not a soul, bar my family was there. Eventually, a few people sat down in the park benches at the back and I thought, "fuck it, let's do this". So, ten minutes late, I moved the mic and stand to the back of the audience, and performed to three park benches, two of which, actually had audience in them!
I announced at the start, that I'd do an abridged 30 mins, but we soon got chatting and joking, and before I knew it, over an hour had passed. It had gone so well between the five of us, that we finished the show having enticed a total of ten audience members, and two bar staff who stood and watched. Hardly any planned material was performed, but I just went off script and improvised with them for the hour. It was quite invigorating actually, and probably more fun than doing my actual show! We finished with a sing-a-long to Tom Jones' Delilah and I shook hands/hugged each individual audience member goodbye.
They were a lovely people in Merthyr, and Drew Taylor's comedy festival was great (it's just unfortunate my show was in a bar that was showing the Grand National during my time slot I think). Hopefully it'll be back in 2019, and I look forward to returning to South Wales.
*I did see one show, with Dorian Wainwright, Richard Jay, David Hoare, and Maggy Whitehouse - a great show with top South West comedians.
PS I know this entry is a bit awkwardly written in places, but it's 2am, and I refuse to go back and edit.
Wow, what a cool rhyming title Andrew!
Thanks man, it's really contrived to be honest, but hey-ho, so the whole blog.
And especially this entry, the meta conversation format will quickly wear thin.
Yes, I had considered that, which I was why I thought I'd make most of it a monologue loosely based around a question that italics Andrew would ask...so, you know?
Oh yep, that's my cue! Is it hard to promote events and sell tickets?
That's a very loaded question, which is most easy to respond to with a 'yes'. However, it is fun, rewarding, and often quite exciting. Well, I say exciting, more terrifying. Getting people in the door for any event is hard enough, and especially when they have to fork over money for a ticket, so I'll talk about this in two parts.
PART ONE: Free Events
I've done a fair few of these, and have had some good success. As well as my 2017 Fringe show being on the Free Festival (i.e. no tickets, just a bucket collection), I trialed the model on all of my preview shows as well. It was definitely easier I think, even outside of the Edinburgh environment where that was the norm. I managed to pack out most of the rooms in Salisbury and Shaftesbury, but it was very nerve-racking having no idea who would turn up if anyone. So it's quite stressful, but can be rewarding, with some bucket collections being above and beyond paid ticket profits! Profit is second to audience however, and that was the biggest advantage, just telling people to turn up and worry about money after. It's an attractive scheme, and for the most part, everyone puts in the bucket (or on some occasions bought me a drink etc.).
The actual promotion is a little harder, because it's difficult to gauge what budget to set, and indeed how much pushing people need. With ticket sales, it's easy to see if you need to ramp up the marketing - blind faith is not easy data to analyze...
PART TWO: Ticketed Events
is a whole new kettle of fish. Offering something for "free" is easy to market, but you have to do a whole lot of convincing to get people to give you money, even if it's as cheap as £1! I'm lucky in certain areas like Salisbury to have friends, family, and a small fan-base, but venturing outside of the area solo is difficult. Online seems to be where you'll get most views, but as fellow comic and promoter James Alderson (very funny - check him out!) says, you need to put something in their hands. A physical flyer or sheet of info is so much more convincing than a facebook ad, as it's much more targeted. Social media has a wide net to cast, and has success via deluge, but five flyers in potential audience hands is worth just as much as 1000 views.
Similarly so with actually selling tickets, handing over a physical ticket is much simpler and easier than online sales. Face-to-face achieves so much more, but obviously no one has the time or energy to do this enough for the audience you want.
Which is why, away from physical and online advertising, word of mouth is perhaps the most valuable tool. For free shows too, but especially for paid events. A recommendation from an audience member can boost your sales massively, as people often respect and go with their friends' choices more, no matter how convincing a critic or Press Release is. It's a social psychology thing (probably), so get people talking about your event - it's hardly too imposing or time consuming to ask people to spread the word, and if you've got a good enough product, they should do so happily!
Cheers bold text Andrew.
Any Old Bollocks
A weekly blog where I just share random thoughts, tangents, and stories.