Double Uppers on the Fringe

Leafing through the Edinburgh Fringe programme as one does I got interested by the numbers of performers  running two or even more shows in the festival – comedians, in particular.

One develops a nerdy appetite for possible phenomena like these – are there more of these double-uppers?  Is it something forced on performers by rising costs?  Just how tough is it to work two daily shows?

On the first programme look-through I circled a few in pencil.   Then I went back, and started with the As.   Which turned up Aidan Greene.   He is performing in Aidan Greene: Did I stutter?  at the Gilded Ballon Teviot, daily at 9.30pm.   But earlier in the day he is doing  Aidan Greene: Eternal Sunshine of the Stammering Man, in the PBH Free Fringe.    One show paid, one show free.

He’s not the only double-upping Aidan.  Just after him in the programme:   Aidan ‘Taco’ Jones – 52 Days.  The show is about keeping a journal on a deck of cards, once a week for a year.  It shows daily at 9pm, for a full run, in Laughing Horse at Espionage, and it’s free.   Then there’s Aidan ‘Taco’ Jones – Lightfoot James.   This show is about receiving taunting messages from a fake Facebook account in the name of Lightfoot James.   Also running non-stop from August 1-25, 2pm, also free.

 

Aidan Greene and Aidan 'Taco' Jones Edinburgh Fringe

Doubling Up Aidans

 

I had emailed Aidan Greene, as he was first on the list, to ask about his double Edinburgh run.  Here’s the reply.

“I’ll just give you the run down on why I wanted to do two shows. This is my fourth fringe run so far. It is also my fourth with PBH [Peter Buckley Hill, the Free Fringe founder]. I actually had two shows in my first two years however the second show those years was a comp show with a good comedian friend of mine.

“This year I felt that I had two distinct stories to tell. While both shows are about stammering (It’s hard for me to talk about anything else!) they are two different stories told in unique ways.

“Through my agent I was given the opportunity to do the paid Fringe this year. Having never done it before I looked at it as a great opportunity for a new challenge. I am proud of both shows and am lucky that I will have the opportunity to perform both of them this year.”

There were five repeat-name entries – ie double-uppers who were easy to spot – in the comedy section, under ‘A’.   The last were Anna Nicholson: Get Happy, running in  Just the Tonic at the Caves August 2-25, and  Anna Nicholson: Woman of the Year Gilded Balloon August 1-18.   Both are paying shows.

Anna also kindly replied to my nosey email.

“I am indeed taking two shows to Edinburgh.  I performed ‘Woman of the Year’ last year. This was my debut show.It sold out last fringe and I had the opportunity to take it to the Adelaide Fringe, where I won the Best Comedy Weekly Award.

“While I was there a representative from Gilded Balloon offered to program my show again this year in Edinburgh. I wasn’t originally planning on taking it back to Edinburgh but seen as it had received some interest I thought it might be worth it. I decided to do this as I have been touring the show more and more and want to push these opportunities.

“My new show ‘Get Happy’ I was always planning on doing this Edinburgh.  Both are character comedy shows with what I aim to be a universal appeal. So Edinburgh is key for me meeting an audience and also gathering interest for touring.”

Nicholson sent press releases that carried some pretty good reviews.    Her characters in Get Happy include “a vicar with a rival, an Instagram influencer, a Yorkshire granny, and a retreat-running hippy”.   In her other show four charismatic characters are competing for the Woman of the Year Award.

Nicholson is a rising star but it was interesting, though hardly surprising,  to confirm that bigger names also double-up.  Old Fringe favourite, Stephen K Amos,  is listed with two: Talk Show, over 13 nights , chatting with guests “hand-picked from the worlds of theatre, comedy and music”, at 4pm at the Gilded Balloon,  and Stephen K. Amos: Work in Progress, over 19 evenings at the Stand.    Scott Gibson is another comic name featuring on two shows; I’m sure there are many others.

Among the S’s, with Stephen and Scott,  I found Sasha Ellen: Pickle, at the Underbelly, early evening,  a “storytelling stand-up show about disastrous dates, ruining weddings and causing a national state of emergency”.

Double listings are easy to spot when both start with the same name.  But a further search on Sasha turned up trumps, with two other shows: Character Building Experience, a free show at Laughing Horse for a full run, at 1.40pm.  It is  a “Dungeons and Dragon Style interactive role-playing game” in “a unique mini-adventure with Game Master Sasha Ellen”.

She also appears in Adrian Tauss and Sasha Ellen: Get a Room
, where “Adrian and Sasha are stand-ups who have been inappropriately funny in public and have been told to get a room”.   Again free, at Laughing Horse, at four in the afternoon.

Sasha told me, again by email:

“A lot of my friends have done two or three shows for the past few Fringes; I don’t think it’s uncommon. The drive to do more than one show is partially financial. Doing the Edinburgh Fringe is so expensive you’re just more likely to make more money back if you do more than one show.

“Other practical reasons can be things like cross-promotion, so both shows do better because you are promoting them through each other. For me, it’s mostly that the Fringe is such an amazingly diverse festival that slightly quirkier shows can have a life there so I want to do all the shows I really enjoy doing. In the end, most people who head to the Fringe do it because they love doing comedy so it makes sense that we want to do as much comedy as physically possible, go home and take a very long nap in September.”

I asked if increasing costs, particularly accommodation, were at work.

“The price of staying in Edinburgh during the Fringe has skyrocketed over the last few year and that absolutely factors in to the financial considerations of taking multiple shows up. Doing more than one show definitely helps pay the rent.”

So some questions on double-uppers answered.   Leaving those nerdy queries still outstanding.   How many are out there, in theatre and comedy, and how have they pushed the number of comedy shows up, in particular?  Are people using cheaper (to their audiences, and presumably them) free shows alongside higher-budgeted paid shows?   Could anyone get two shows on an awards shortlist?

I’ll leave you with another act I pestered, Theo McCabe.  I noticed that a Theo McCabe was handling the press for Vampire Hospital Waiting Room by Beach Comet,  and also Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair at the Gilded Balloon.   Then there was Joe McArdle is: Theo McCabe with a Laughing Horse show.

Theo writes:  “I perform stand up in Joe McArdle is: Theo McCabe (as well as producing the show). With Vampire Hospital Waiting Room and Apocalypse Cruise Ship Love Affair I produce and direct the shows and also play main piano (they are musicals) during every performance, and occasionally some gags over the ‘God mic’.  I think this year I will also being doing a small intro to each show in character so I guess I perform in all of them? I’m not a lead cast member though if that matters.”

So he’s on stage  three hours a day on weekends, two hours a day on weekdays.  “It’s quite tiring especially filtering for an hour before each show, setting up and packing down etc,” he said.   “It’s even worse for Joe [his comedy partner in the show, Joe McArdle] who sings 2 musicals and has to be very careful to to lose his voice.”

“Luckily for us accommodation costs aren’t an issue because we went to Edinburgh University so i have friends who give us reasonable rates. I do the stand up because i think it’s good for my career to get my name out there and i do musicals because they are popular and will help me sell the stand up show.

“I think young stand-up comics will often take a second show if it’s on in a big venue for this reason, it means they can exit flyer etc, and use the popularity of that show as a springboard. Producing all  three does mean I have about £15-16k invested in this month though which is terrifying.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They seem to be a recurring thing in the pages of the comedy section – same performer, different shows.   Nose around a little more and there are other shows

 

 

 

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