I decided that handing out as many flyers as possible was both boring and pointless and so developed a mildly illegal but extremely effective way of my own. I pick either one person out of a group or a lone wanderer and start a conversation. It would usually go like this:
Me: Hello! How are you? (We’re now walking side by side for as long as this takes)
Poor Unsuspecting Victim (hereby PUV): Um, I’m... well, thank you... how are you?”
Me: I am wonderful, thank you (insert fact about why my day is so good, usually involving what I had for lunch)
*A pause whilst PUV wonders what is going on*
Me: What are you up to today?
PUV: Going to see a show later (or something else a little bit banal)
Me: Wonderful! I have something even better for you.
*Flyer is produced and then actual flyering begins*
After this, it was a case of telling them all of the marvellous things about the show, for instance, Sad Faces Threw a Party would be (a constant stream of dialogue seemed the most effective – breathing is superfluous):
Me: These guys write for the Now Show on Radio 4, they write The Amazing World of Gumball which is Emmy AND BAFTA nominated so they MUST be good, they have their own show on Radio 4 Extra AND they have their own sketch show here at the Pleasance Courtyard at 4.30 where they invite you to their party and you’re both the audience and the guests at the party and it’s kind of immersive but not ridiculously so, I mean, if you don’t like audience participation then you just don’t sit on the front row and it’s wonderful – it’s really awkward, really happy sketch humour and who doesn’t like awkward humour? I do, I love it! So, you should go. It’s on at 4.30 and its mega close AND you get a party bag at the end!
So, are you going to go?
They will usually laugh, ask some more questions and then you either ask their name, shake their hand and tell them you’ll see them there or just send them on their way.
Bam, PUV has been flyered. It’s so important to be excited about the show though – I’m talking about over-enthusiastic arm waving, jumping around, loads of eye contact. Don’t be afraid to look a bit mental, you will be the most effective because people will remember you.
Incidentally, this was also how I met some of my best friends at the Fringe.
How did you get the job flyering at the Fringe?
I went onto http://www.edinburghfestivaljobs.com where Ditto Productions were advertising, applied with a complete CV and, again, over-enthusiastic, bubbly covering letter and got the job!
What did your average Fringe day look like?
I usually started at about 1 so at the beginning, I would be up at 8 ready to see a show or do some yoga. Once Fringe fatigue set it, however, I would be out of the house at 12, wander across the meadows listening to Whitney Houston to get me in the mood to flyer and go from 1 until 4.30. I’d grab a quick lunch, usually at Elephant and Bagel or Mosque Kitchen with one of my friends who I met in Edinburgh and practically became sisters with and then see a show until 6 when flyering would start again until either 8 or 11 with an hour’s break. After that, it was time for another show and then out for drinks with some of the many friends you make at the Fringe. To be in bed before half four was an early night and a rare luxury – too many times, I saw the Scottish sunrise.
Did you have time to do much else other than flyer?
Absolutely, there was always time for late night shows and time in the breaks to see something if you were determined. Edinburgh Fringe seems to run in a different time zone to the rest of Europe so you could begin socialising at midnight and that was completely normal.
Was this your first time at the Fringe, or have you been before? If first time, was it a good way to experience the Fringe first time?
I had been to the Fringe a couple of years ago but I was shy and just there for a week so I didn’t see or do much. This felt like my first time and it was great. The company I worked for, Ditto Productions, was like a big family so you had an instant connection with a lot of people and working rather than just visiting was so much better. It felt like you were really involved in the whole thing... to the point where we began to discuss the ‘tourists’ with some amount of pity, forgetting that we had arrived ourselves just two weeks before.
Advice for overcoming Fringe flu?
Don’t stop or try to combat it. I was perfectly fine, if a little snuffly, and running on 3 hours sleep on average up until halfway through the last week. Then, I thought to myself “How much better would I feel with some vitamins in me?!” Around half an hour after downing some Vitamin C supplements and Spirulina, I was sneezing and freezing and moany. It was almost like my body had been woken up and thought “Finally! We can do all of the things that have been waiting for three weeks!” It meant I missed our last staff drinks and spent a lot of time being very melodramatic about the whole ordeal.
Coolest places you went to in Edinburgh?
I wasn’t actually that adventurous, I have to admit; we spent a lot of time in lovely restaurants, the Dome Bar, the various member’s bars and Hive. Hive until Five is a rite of passage and we took that a little too seriously.
Did flyering cover most of your costs in Edinburgh, or was it still expensive?
It did indeed cover all of my costs! As long as you’re willing to work hard, you can make enough to enjoy yourself a lot.
Any truly terribly flyering you saw?
The worst and unfortunately the most common flyering technique had to be the flyerer standing still by a wall, no smile, one line of “____ ‘s five star show tonight” and then a dismayed look as every passerby either ignored them or was just plain rude.
Tips for overcoming post-Fringe blues?
I decided not to think about it. Instead, I had the obligatory one day’s rest (this, admittedly, was nowhere near enough – it’s a week later and I’m dead on my feet) and then throw yourself back into life. I have so far slept in my own bed for two nights. The best way I got rid of any pangs, however, was talking to fellow Fringers. I’ve spent time with my Fringe sister and had dinner with another great Edinburgh friend and talked to countless others. If you’re all working at the Fringe, the chances are that you are kindred spirits. Hold onto them.
Michaela Carroll is currently studying at City University London writes (amongst other places) here! Follow her on Twitter @MickeyJourno