Theatre: The producer - a Fringe diary

The annual exodus which empties the capital's theatres is already under way as performers and critics - if not the actual audiences - head north for the world's largest arts festival. Yes, Edinburgh is the place to be and this year, thanks to a couple of old mates from university, I'm in the thick of it.

It started in January when Phil and Stu phoned, asking if I would like to produce their two-man comedy show. Are they mad? I ask. That's what students do, not office-bound late twentysomethings with a mortgage and a pension. And anyway, I can afford decent foreign holidays. Why would I spend two weeks in a draughty church hall in Edinburgh? Go on, they say. It'll be a laugh. OK, I hear myself saying, why not?

February

We meet in the pub, to think up a theme for the show. We don't have many ideas. The evening soon descends into a drunken haze. The next morning, however, I find in my pocket a notepad with the words "The Road to Largs" scrawled on it. We have a theme.

March

It's time to tout our ideas around the venues. Phil and Stu, festival veterans, explain the score. It's a bit like prostitution, they say, except that we pay the money and we're the ones who get shafted.

The boys want a publicity picture of them peeing into a Perrier bottle. This will be that vital "controversial statement" with all the attendant publicity. I refuse. In the unlikely event of them actually winning the Perrier Award, they will accept it, even if I have to usher them on to the podium with a cattle prod.

April

We narrow down our favoured options to the Pleasance and the Gilded Balloon. To get a slot at the Pleasance these days probably requires at the very least having your own BBC2 series. The Gilded Balloon has a similarly strong reputation, but I send them some sketches and an outline of the show. Karen Koren, who runs it, rings up. She has a reputation for promoting successful Scottish comedy. She actually sounds interested and offers us a slot in the smallest venue. We feel like we've won an Oscar. Phil and Stu spend the next week drunk.

May

We decide to drive to Largs, a faded seaside town on the west coast of Scotland, to take some publicity shots and stimulate the creative juices. The pitch for the show is going to be along the lines of a road-movie in a pink Cadillac to Largs. I arrange the car and photographer. Or so I tell the boys. Actually, I get a Renault Megane. They're not particularly delighted when I tell them the photographer blew me out and produce my instant camera.

June

The Gilded Balloon rings up. They need a detailed breakdown of our show's requirements. Are they crazy? I know less about that kind of stuff than I do about the dark side of the moon. I don't ring back.

July

The Gilded Balloon's brochure with our entry appears. Embarrassingly for me, an employee of the Independent on Sunday, it is sponsored by The Observer.

Like a true professional, I've left it until way beyond the final deadline to have our posters designed. We have a few "creative differences" over the poster. I want lots of drug references. The boys don't. In the end, we don't have any drug references. Sometimes you've got to give the talent their way.

August

Two weeks to show time. NME interviews a pop group in Largs. Local girl Daniella Nardini - Anna from This Life - appears all over the papers. Suddenly, Largs looks like it might be this year's white elephant. And if it all goes horribly wrong, I've got a horrible feeling I know who's going to take the flak.

Just how much was that one-way ticket to Australia...?

Soapy Frogs, `The Road to Largs': Calder's Gilded Balloon II Wee Room, Canongate, Edinburgh, 17-31 Aug, 3.45pm, pounds 5.50 (pounds 4.50)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test