9 PM Friday 31st August 2012 Nunhead Heights.
One minute I was taking Cong rockets in the Quang Nam outside Da Nang City and being drenched in my mate Skippy’s blood and the next day I’m lounging by the pool in Coronado slurping banana daiquiris with UC San Diego co-eds.
My show “Lewis Schaffer No, YOU Shut Up – albeit not much of a show, just me – averaged 62 audience members per show in my Three Sister’s room. I could have had more but I didn’t allow latecomers and cut off the total at 80 punters – all seated. I recommend all free shows have a doorperson and not allow latecomers or standing.
The show had a free admission policy but that doesn’t guarantee an audience. I did less than 45 minutes of flyering per show per day and had no flyering team, minimal poster placement, and no advertising. Imagine what could be done with more money and more work?
My show next year will be called “It’s Ten Quid, Biatch! Pay Upppp!”
Reviews were a mixed bag, as they always are.
I got seven reviews. Two “Four Stars”, three “Three Stars”, one “Two Stars” and one “One Star” – for an average of 2.87 stars per review. Remove the highest and the lowest and the average is 3 Stars. Not that stars matter – word of mouth matters and repeat customers – and stars!
I also got, but don’t count in the total, Three Stars from the website www.PurchaseAFiveStarReview.com (I couldn’t afford the Five Stars). I got Four Stars from ScotsJew, The Magazine of the Scottish Jewish Community. They said I was “Jewy” but could be more “Jewy”.
Kate Copstick of The Scotsman wrote in the most prestigious Edinburgh newspaper that…
“[Lewis Schaffer] gleefully violates every comedy rule in the book… an hour with Lewis Schaffer is an hilarious, cathartic, exhilaratingly appalling experience. He wants you to hate him. I, for one, just can’t.” Four Stars. Why not five? Ah, the mystery.
Steve Bennett of chortle.com, the main comedy website, came to my show when the microphone wasn’t working and very early in the run. He gave me Three Stars but reported that the show has “been fun. It’s been an experience.”
He’s seen me often so to say it’s been fun and an experience… I am not going to say it deserves more but…
On the other end, Hannah Smith from the website and review sheet BroadwayBaby gave me One Star.
“His loathing is as boundless as the ocean and encompasses women, black people, Jews, Scots, the English – if it can be described as a demographic then it is ripe for the picking from this vitriolic shambolic comic. The problem isn’t that he’s reductive and vulgar. The problem is that he’s unoriginal and unfunny.”
Who would you believe? Hannah, of course.
This was the festival that I took up a local gent’s offer of free accommodation. There is no such thing as a free room and, at One in the morning, he decided he didn’t want me in his place.
Homeless, I chose to leave my suitcase in a venue storage room. In the bag was maybe £600 – maybe more – and when I returned the cash was gone. Not Jimmy Carr money but still, valuable money my audience gave me out of love.
A fool and his money are soon parted. It has also been said that a fool doesn’t deserve to have any money. I have no money.
Luckily friends came to the rescue and put me up on their couches and spare bedrooms – Dan Willis, John Fleming, Paul B. Edwards and David Whitney. And I made new friends. Twonkey co-artist Paul Vickers and Mary Trodden who had me as their guest in their lovely art-filled Stockbridge flat.
I don’t recommend being homeless but I think I came out of it with a net gain.
More thank yous:
My Show this year, “No, YOU Shut Up”, was sponsored by Peter Goddard, who is a nice guy – he gave me money to print the flyers and the posters and hope he thought it was well spent.
The show’s name was suggested by Karen O. Novak and the poster idea was by Sajeela Kershi with art assistance from Karen and David Hardcastle. Photography by the studio of Peter Cattrell. I was assisted in writing by the young Alex Mason who has a comic mind far advanced for his 23 years alive.
The show was produced by Alex Petty of the Laughing Horse Free Festival and by Bob Slayer’s Alternative Fringe. They gave me the use of two of the best rooms – Maggie’s Chambers at the Three Sisters and the Bunka Room (the smaller cave) at the Hive. I am glad I was banished from the Counting House Ballroom because its high ceiling is death to comedy and I am sure I would have tried for a fourth year to make the room work.
Plus, a thank you to comic Spring Day from Missouri and Toyko (or is it Kansas?) who laughed at my jokes. And Richard at the Loft Bar for giving me a pass and for letting me bring in those three young women and making me seem famous.
What to do next year?
There are too many free shows at the Festival. There are too many paid shows. But since the dawn of the Fringe there has always been too many shows.
More acts will chase fame and fortune – or at least some notoriety and the break-even point – than there are audiences and money for them. Hence the yearly bitching and moaning.
Will I be “free” next year? Who knows? What do you think?
@lewisschaffer on twitter
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