Category: Comedy, Life in Britain

3 PM Friday  3 August 2012 Edinburgh

What exactly is the the Edinburgh Fringe? It sounds like some kind of plaid window curtain. In fact, it is the comedy world trade fair. It has been described as “a cluster fuck of creative sludge in a World Heritage Site”  by my young writer friend Alex Mason.

The Festival is only marginally more interesting to outsiders than one of the industry shoe trade shows I went to when I was trying to sell advertising space for Footware Plus Magazine in New York. The only thing that kicks the Fringe up a notch is that it’s possible that some of the people I mention here you will one day see on TV. [Oh, there is Al Murray, the Pub Landlord! Not really. I am in front of bank of computers at the Fringe Office.

I am often asked what is the one thing that can be done to improve the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The other evening I returned to the lovely yet boiling Counting House Ballroom. Remember that was my old venue and the one I was banned from for telling them how to solve their heat problem. Almost every show space is boiling hot from 14 hours of continuous shows.

Well, what needs to be done is open a friggin’ window and put in an extractor fan. There is only a billion cubic metres of cold air right outside every venue in this town. Suck the cold air in. Force the warm air out. Problem solved.

Why don’t they do that?  Well, Paul Mindus, American and former resident of  London explained it to me. He called it “The Drill.”

 In Britain “new ideas on their own have difficulty gaining traction. People need to know that someone proposing a new idea understands how things are currently done and can explain fully how the new way is better. “

If William Burdett-Coutts of the Assembly Rooms or Karen Koren of the Guilded Balloon created the “Let’s Open a Window and Put In An Extractor Fan Campaign” I am sure people of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe would open a window and put in an extractor fan.  And the festival would be 100% better.

Yesterday, at 6pm I was a  comedy genius and at 9pm I was comedy fraud.

That’s the horror that goes in my mind. Two shows. One good, the other a nightmare.

The second show was as typical a debacle as any I have had. I looked around my new room – Maggie’s Chamber in the Tree Sisters – for anyone in the industry and was relieved. No reviewers. Then a hand was raised. The Perrier Award people were there to scout for their comedy prize – now called the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. I breathed a sigh of relief. I am not going to win that thing ever, so no worries.

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