The harsh realities of putting a play on at the Edinburgh Fringe hit home today as my manager went through the projected costs with me. Under current projections (with quite a big cast) if I sell every seat in a 500 seat theatre for every day of the Fringe i will lose over £10,000! And I can't really see me selling anywhere near that number of tickets. So the loss could be a lot more. Perhaps I am being foolish this year, taking quite a big financial punt with two projects, but it's only money, right? It's certainly an incentive to work very, very hard on making the play as good as possible. There is the possibility of some investment from other people in the idea, so it might not make me bankrupt, but it's still a big commitment when I haven't even written a word of the thing yet.
I wrote four plays in the 1990s and put them all on at the Fringe, but eventually lost heart with the process. I lost a five figure sum each year and none of the plays were picked up to be performed elsewhere (though a couple of them have subsequently been done by amateur groups). I got good and bad reviews for them, but felt like the theatre people were a bit sniffy, thinking I was a comedian writing plays and putting my stand-up routines in them (despite the fact I didn't do stand up then) and the comedy people thought I'd got a bit above myself. I wanted to write plays that were properly funny (not just "theatre funny"), but that also worked as plays. I thought I did pretty well with them, but I guess that in general the powers that be disagreed. In the end the work paid off as I am sure that by demonstrating my ability to write characters and narrative led to me getting TV jobs. I am not sure I would have got the Time Gentlemen Please gig without them. Also they made me a much better writer.
I am hopeful that this time the play will go on to have a life beyond the Fringe (I think it might make a great film too - if I can get it right), but it's going to make for a jittery August for me. If the audiences are in double figures and the reviews are negative (and if the play is just rubbish - which it might be, there's no way of finding out until I've written it) then it might be a bit of a depressing time. But I think it's worth the gamble. This year feels very make or break all of a sudden. All in all it's more likely to break me. But I am glad I am giving it a go. If you see me on the second series of the Jump or advertising crisps this time next year then you'll know things have gone tits up. If you feel like buying a badge to minimise the loses from one of my over-ambitious projects then that would be much appreciated. There's a slight hold up on the first episode of Meaning of Life by the way, though it should be available (at least to subscribers) next week (the shorter free show might take a little bit longer to edit). There's still some tickets for show 3 available (only a tenner) and a few for We're All Going To Die! in Leicester on Thursday.
I am really enjoying how varied my job is at the moment. Today I went to help workshop ideas for another comedian's TV show. It was an enjoyable day of sitting around a table chatting and drinking coffee and hoping we'd spark off some ideas. There were no Haribos on offer so I couldn't shame myself (though there was a small bowl of small jellied sweets and I did eat most of those). When I started Warming Up in 2002 I was spending most of my time in the house, trying and failing to write about cocks and going quietly insane. And much as I enjoy writing it's important to mix things up a bit. This week has involved being on a Sunday morning TV show, previewing new material, doing a radio show and helping with ideas for another comedian and in the coming few days I will be writing on my own project, thinking about my play, doing my tour show, filming Meaning of Life and doing the first in a new series of RHLSTP. There's a little bit of time for fun too (I am going to a wedding on Saturday) and I am just about to go for a 7 mile run in the rain. But I am delighted to be busy and delighted to still be having enough drive and ideas to be pushing myself into ever increasingly dangerous money-losing endeavours.
It all makes for the more boring type of blog of course, which I can only apologise for. Hopefully something comical will happen to me tomorrow. And of course the 2015 homeless blogs are going to be fucking hilarious (depending on your sense of humour).