Edinburgh Report #3

Numbers. It’s all about the numbers. As a poet I am no stranger to small audiences. It’s an acquired habit, right? Only for the incredibly intelligent with excellent taste. 

These days on tour I play to pretty good houses in most places. There are still a few rooms that feel more cavernous than they rightly should but things are beginning to look up. It only took sixteen years. 

But here in Edinburgh the old obsession creeps back in. “It’s quiet everywhere today;” “it’s not really started yet;” “I reckon we’ll get quite a good walk-up;” “no ones really buying tickets in advance at the moment.” All the old mantras creak into use. We tell ourselves this to feel better, of course. We should know better,  they are cold comfort, and all just variations on the old adage: “it ain’t you Luke, this whole business is going down the swanny.” 

Which isn’t true. Across town my pal Bryonny Kimmings has sold out her entire Fringe run. So there are punters out there. They’re just not coming to see me. Yet. 

Yes! Panic not, things are not lost. I have two things on my side. My shows. I have two excellent shows. That sounds boastful. But I’ve just spent four paragraphs lamenting my woeful professional situation, so cut me some slack. 

I believe in both of these shows. Stay-at-Home Dandy is my strongest suit of poems to date. It’s already toured the country and has assured me of that. In fact, even though I had a small house (of about 20 punters) yesterday we all had a great time. Even two years ago, a small crowd would have made life difficult for me to really get everyone laughing. Not now. It’s under control. 

What I Learned From Johnny Bevan is selling fewer tickets. But I can see the expressions on the faces of the audience at the of the show. I am reading their tweets about it. Surely it’ll break, surely. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s the fourteenth show I’ve made as well, so I know a thing or two about this. 

So it comes down to two factors: word of mouth and reviews. I’m waiting on about five reviews. I ‘ve had one so far. Johnny Bevan had a lovely review yesterday – go on, click it. Not bad eh? 

I know this all sounds rather self-pitying. It’s not. I don’t feel sorry for myself. Yet. Ha ha ha. But this is the reality of it. You spend a year (or more) sweating over your art (yes, I went there) and that is the brilliant feeling. To work on something you believe in. To believe in something. And then you come up here and it’s all: “what’s the bottom line?” But y’know, you want people to see your art. Christ, I made this for you! Umm, that was an blasphemous exclamation btw, I wasn’t addressing Jesus. I didn’t make a one man play about the class and the death of New Labour for Jesus. 

And of course there is that other thing: money. It’s cost about ten grand to bring these shows up there. So far I have made about a tenth of that back. #rent # food etc. 

Right now I am sitting on a bench in Southside. I’ve paused on my morning walk to pen you this missive. There’s that lovely early morning tinge to the air. And I don’t feel defeated. I feel hopeful. And that is a sweet thing. Today I shall try to remember that brilliant feeling and keep the numbers at bay. 

8 Comments

  • Rachel August 10, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Chin up Luke! I’ve enjoyed your work for yonks, starting with a grudging admiration when I interviewed Aisle 16 at the Edinburgh festival for The Student near the start of the millennium – you mooted doing a show called Bums On Seats (“it’ll be about tramps”) – plus ca change, eh? Full blown admiration set in when I heard one of your appearances on The Verb. I marvel at your artistry. Now take a swig of that early morning air and get to it. #Art #fortheloveofgod

    Reply
    • lukewrightpoet August 10, 2015 at 6:51 am

      Hi Rachel. I remember you and that interview! Thanks for the words of encouragement. Chin is up!

      Reply
  • denise August 10, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I have used everyone of those phrases at events, plus “it’s the bus company’s fault. People can’t get home now they stop the busses after 6.30…”
    (I’m guessing that one wouldn’t work up at the fringe.) So I find this post incredibly reassuring!
    Hope the reviews are sweet and the audiences – whatever their size – have a great time with you, (and go back and tell their friends!).

    Reply
    • lukewrightpoet August 10, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Thanks Denise! xx

      Reply
  • James August 10, 2015 at 7:40 am

    As an 18 year old Fringe goer I’m probably not your usual punter, but since seeing Essex Lion and Posh Plumber at a Best of the Fest, our family has had quite the infatuation. So much so in fact, my Dad (an Essex boy), timed last years visit home to tie in with one of your gigs in Colchester. I was at Stay-at-home-Dandy on Saturday and I brought a liberal, arty friend – he is sold, he absolutely loved it and was at times incredibly moved. 20 or 200, you should be incredibly proud of a bloody good show!

    P.S. My parents visit the Fringe next week, so that’ll be two customers at least!

    Reply
    • lukewrightpoet August 10, 2015 at 7:43 am

      Thanks James. That’s always nice to hear and I’m loving the shows. Truly I am. I’m never happier than when I’m doing the dandy show. It’s so much fun to do. Numbers never matter when you are on stage.

      Reply
  • Reg Ruse August 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Quality will out, remember you are a Prince amongst men and that you can’t keep a good man down. You did not sound self pitying to me, quite the opposite in fact. Take care Droogie.

    Reply
    • lukewrightpoet August 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Cheers my fellow Droog. Onwards and upwards. xx

      Reply

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