A special post for some special people

Last year two of my high school friends got married, and I was chuffed to be the MC.

At that wedding I met some family friends of the bride and groom, who had travelled from Edinburgh for the wedding. They found out I did some stand-up comedy and insisted that I come to Edinburgh.

‘In a few years’ I replied, ‘I’m not quite ready yet.’

But they said all the comedians come to Edinburgh – even the very new ones, and I really should, and that I could stay with them.

I thought about it, and then thought ‘worth a shot’.

I applied for a grant from DCA to part fund the two months of performing, writing and seeing shows.

I cried when I got the envelope saying my application was successful. I knew before it started that this whole trip would mean a lot to me. Even just getting the grant gave me a huge boost because it meant that OTHER people thought I was worth betting on, not just my family or my friends…

I hadn’t spoken to the couple I’d met since the wedding and the phone number I had for them wasn’t connecting. Google came to the rescue and so I emailed the address that came up:

“This is Bonnie (Perth, Australia) who you met at Briony and Harry’s wedding late last year… I’m pretty sure this is the right Bill and Helen because I remembered you made knitwear and then when I googled your names and Edinburgh the shop came up in the search”

A day later and I got a reply.

“Hi Bonnie, I think this must be the right Bill & Helen because we remember you too, so we can’t all be going lala. How great that you go the grant, well done, I’m sure we can help with the accommodation if you let us know when your dates are.”

Bill and Helen let me stay with them for free for a month, when most people are renting out rooms at extortionate amounts during the Festival.  They didn’t know me at all when they offered, but they managed to make a HUGE difference to my year – if they hadn’t insisted that Edinburgh was the place to be I certainly wouldn’t have gone this year. The whole time I was there they treated me like part of the family and I was sad to say goodbye.

There will be another post about Edinburgh, but this one is just about them, if you are ever in Edinburgh please check out their shop and say ‘Bonnie says thanks!’

Bill Baber – Knitwear (handmade in Scotland)

It’s in the Grassmarket – off Cowgate Street and the website is here.

This was the goodbye present I made for them when I left.


A Mary Poppins silhouette – because it looks believable from their window!

Flyer Etiquette etc

If 2,000 of the shows at Edinburgh printed at least 5,000 flyers (which is the minimum for most shows) then that would mean 1,000,000 flyers handed out over the festival.

That’s about 350,000 flyers being given out a day.These estimates are conservative, so the realistic figures could be higher.

In my short time flyering for Only Planet I’ve collated some basic etiquette etc* notes on how a fellow-flyerer should conduct themselves. Please feel free to comment/email me to add to this list (I’ll make sure you’re credited, because I’m polite that way).

* etc is for bits that aren’t strictly etiquette but are still flyer related

FLYER ETIQUETTE ETC V1.01

1. Do not flyer other flyerers.

In fact if you are an audience member who is sick of having A6 gloss paper pushed at you then you can hold a small stack of flyers in your hand and other flyerers will assume you are one of their own and won’t flyer you. GENIUS! The only exception to this is when someone states ‘FLYER SWAP’ and flyers are exchanged by mutual agreement.

2. Sitting down, does not mean sitting duck

Just because someone is sitting on a step, park bench or at a coffee table doesn’t mean they are looking for something to do. Give them a break people!

3. Be assertive, not aggressive

Blanket flyering means you push flyers out, but don’t necessarily match that with audience in (to your shows).

4. Embarrass yourself

Sing, dance or state your undying love for a statue if it works. Although don’t always assume it will, other people have had the same ideas and the statue will probably hand YOU a flyer…

5. If they are busy, or are trying to look busy, then they’re probably not interested

If someone is walking quickly, has headphones in, is mid-conversation, is texting or looking away then they’re not playing ‘hard to get’. They really don’t want anything from you.

6. Make your flyer funny (or at least notable)

This is more for the new comedy shows. If you are an unknown act and you manage to hand a flyer to someone they are more likely to attend if it has something to make them smile. If you can’t make them giggle with an A6 gloss card then a stage and a microphone probably won’t help you much anyway…Of course it’s not always the case and there are definitely exceptions to this, for example A Nifty History of Evil by John Robertson. His flyer is black, white and very dark. But it gets your attention so it works.

7. Have fun

If you’re getting silly with it, it tends to make people less grumpy, and sometimes they even take a flyer.

Offer them

‘FREE FLYERS’

‘Limited edition flyers, ONLY 60,000 left’

8. Bribe them

We give away free biscuits at our shows. I’ve also seen free pork pies, free cups of tea and free lollies (stapled to flyers). It actually works occasionally, and you can always eat what’s left over 😉

Would you like a FREE flyer?

Edinburgh Festival has over 2,000 shows and 21,000 performers and all of them want YOU at their show.

Some acts can afford to spend money on things like postering poles (which get covered almost immediately)

Or if they really have some cash to splash they can hire space for their own giant posters.

Most of the acts don’t have budget for this though and rely heavily on flyering to get people to come to their shows. The main action goes down on the Royal Mile (High Street) in the centre of Edinburgh where every second person is holding a stack of flyers, every third person is a busker and the occasional person is an actual audience member.

It’s a lot of people, a lot of flyers and a lot of shows and that will do anything to get your attention…

Below are some photos of a few of them 😉

1. UNDERPANTS FLYERING

This guy clearly thought you might be more likely to read from his underpants than take a flyer.

2. ROLL BY FLYERING

These guys were either lazy or playing the disabled card – and rolled around with their flyers stuck to a couch on wheels. He can walk. We saw him.


3. DRESS UP

Self explanatory.

Here are some guys in matching jackets.

And some nuns…

4. ELEVATE

Another common card played is to elevate your height by standing on a pole-block to attract attention.

This is a variation on the ‘elevation’ technique – this time using people instead of pole-blocks for extra height.

This woman isn’t actually flyering, but I wish she was!

5. DRESS DOWN

Rather than put fancy clothes on, he took his off.

Certainly got my attention.

6. SHOW ‘EM

Just a simple spread of flyers for passers by.

7. GET DRAMATIC

Oh no! Man down!

Oh no wait, he just wants you to take a flyer.

This does attract attention, but isn’t fool-proof.

PILE-UP!

7. STICK YOUR FLYERS TO SOMETHING

At first I thought this was a giant table, then realised they’re just moving a display board. I think the moving of the board is probably more effective than the board itself.

7. PUPPET POWER

When people are sick of taking flyers from people, they may just take one from a puppet.

8. MY FAVOURITE

This was my favourite of the day. It drew people in, held their attention and by the time you finished reading you felt obliged to take a flyer.

If you are one of the shows featured above please send me your details and I will link to your show.

Things I noticed, on the way to somewhere else

Tomorrow is bump-in day. Day after that is show day.
So today was walk-around-do-errands-and-look-at-things day.

Here are some things I found when I went to buy some milk. Then some things I found on the way to the Festival Venue.

Oooh.. what’s that red thing behind fence…?


Oh it’s just a car.

I overheard a discussion by some passers by who decided it was an artwork or an ingenius prank.

This is what happens when a 100 year old barber gets their branding campaign done by a Gen Y advertising executive.

Possibly re-acting to comments that they are hard to understand, the Scottish have designed a sign that clearly says NO LOADING.

But just to make sure you get the message they put them EVERYWHERE.

Another example of handy sign work by the Scottish. This bin takes everything EXCEPT CYCLES.

And finally, I saw these two on the way home from my errands. They could well end up being one of my favourite festival performances of the week. You can’t see it in the photo – but the guy on the right is really rocking out to the guitar (nodding his head, tapping the beer can etc – about as much emotion as you can expect from someone who may well be English) and the guy on the left is giving it all he’s got and the whole street can hear him singing.

Girls In Comedy, Hey?

This article was originally written for The Doll Rag and published online in November 2009. I thought I would re-post it here too, with a mild edit. Original article and comments can be found here.

Girls in comedy, hey?

This is one of those topics that I’m not always sure about discussing… Is it making a bigger issue out of it to bring it up or is it useful to bring it up…

In some ways, it’s almost (close) to being a non-issue to me. I have personally found that the Perth comedy scene is so supportive of everyone, whether you’re a girl, boy, puppet, alcoholic…or Britney Spears fan. We have a few good girls on the scene already, and more are signing up from time to time. Perth comedy is like a big family, even if there are the distant relatives that crash the gatherings quite often, and I feel included and love all the comedy kids and (I think) they love me too.

It’s not about me being a girl, and being funny. It’s about me being Bonnie, and being funny.

But then occasionally you do have to look at some of the facts..

FACT ONE – There are often line-ups with no girls.

And when there are girls on a line-up it’s noticeable. Not because there aren’t normally funny girls, but because there aren’t that many girls on the scene.

FACT TWO – Because of this it’s easier to identify the girls.

So of course if a girl does well on stage it’s noticeable, and she’ll be told

‘I don’t normally find girls funny, but I liked your stuff’

And if she does badly she won’t be told anything but people will leave whispering to each other

‘I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t find girls funny’

Actually they just found a comedian funny or not funny. Being a girl has nothing to do with it. I always think that the comments people make say a lot more about them (or the world they live in) than it does about the comedian. Note how I did not use the term ‘female comedian’ or ‘comedienne’.

FACT THREE – People make assumptions based on gender

Of course some people switch off as soon as they see a girl walk on stage.

Again, says more about them than it does about the comedian.

It’s only natural for everyone to be a little bit sexist about the whole thing. We make instant judgements on people every day. Why would standup be any different?

Standup comedy is relatively new in the world. In the days of Shakespearian theatre women weren’t allowed to perform and men would dress as women. Look how far we’ve come today.

I don’t think it’s a problem that there are a lack of women in comedy.

Ok I do.

But I think that it will only be a problem if there continues to be a lack of women on stage. But I predict that this will change over time as more and more girls see girls on stage and realise ‘hey I can probably do that’.

People who say they don’t like ‘female comedy’ have probably not seen that much comedy… or just some bad comedians…tampon jokes, period pieces… sure there are some terrible ‘female’ jokes out there. But they are equally matched with cock, sex and cum jokes from the boys.

Or boys simulating sex on stage (quite accurately). Puh-lease. Keep it in the bedroom boys. No-one wants to know how you swing your kit about, and if they do they’ll approach you after the show.

The thing is that (often) when a girl makes a bad joke you remember it, and if a boy does you don’t.

No, really.

At an open mic room in Perth a load of comedians got up.. two of them destroyed (comedy term for doing really well), the MC killed (comedy term for doing really well) and everyone else died (comedy term for not getting any laughs and wanting to cut yourself when you get home)…

What I’m saying is

Eight guys died on stage.

One girl died on stage.

What everyone remembered was

The girl was terrible.

That the MC and other two boys were funny.

There is a load more I could say about all this.

Stories I could tell. Examples I could give. Books to write, movies to make, documentaries to pitch to the ABC.

But you know what, I just can’t be fucked.

I’d rather just be funny.