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OPINION: Lunch Time Before Crunch Time

The venues may have been returned to their normal, year-round, use. The flyers all handed out and the performers enjoying a post-festival relax but the impact of Brighton Fringe still rolls on. The naughty boys behind Brighton Fringe hit Thunderflop, Zach Zucker, Viggo Venn and Jonny Woolley, finally put pen to paper to share their experience of their first visit to England’s largest arts festival.

Brighton was a surprise to all of us. When registration opened up last October we were still recovering financially from Edinburgh as well as setting aside money to go back to Gaulier. We all agreed that we wanted to continue performing on the international circuit and that we’d wait for Jonny and Viggo to graduate before we made any moves… Which is why Zach applied without telling either of them.

It’s never easy touring a new show. More often than not you’re traveling to places you’ve never been before with people who don’t know about you and don’t particularly care. Naturally, we were a bit apprehensive about doing the festival but looking back this was one of the best choices we’ve made in our career thus far.

The first weekend was a bit of a blur (we flyered for 9 hours a day) but here’s what we remember – We bought candy for the box office and got a discount in exchange for a ticket to our show. The candy lady came on Sunday! Viggo was attacked by a pack of savage children that kept pulling down his pants, forcing him to take shelter in a tree. Viggo forgot his costume one night and only realized an hour before. Zach was really upset.. Until he realised he left our suitcase full of props at the house as well. Jonny was the only one prepared.

We were pleasantly surprised by the reception we got in Brighton. We knew nobody who lived here and had never performed in England before. It’s hard to convince people you have a good show no matter how much you believe in it – because everyone thinks they have a good show – so rather than standing around pitching our show to people who only want to drink, we developed some sly and tactical methods to infiltrate the punter’s subconscious.

Our most successful mission came around Day Two when we started hanging out by The Warren Box Office. With some top-secret, insider knowledge (big ups to The Warren-Box Office lead by Natalie) we were informed that most people would walk up not knowing what to see.

The three of us split up and pretended to be random punters looking for a show, though we remained in costume the entire time (the samecostumeswe wear on our poster). We would stand around or behind a group of people and talk loud enough so that they could hear us. Our conversations went a little something like this:

“Ahh I don’t know what to see tonight– oooh I hear that Zach &Viggo show is pretty good”,
“What, the blue poster with the guys in tights? Yeah right!”
“No, no. Look – they got some real good reviews and have been performing in NY and LA!”

This worked surprisingly well, at one point we saw a guy who was standing behind look us up on his phone while he was waiting in line. He never even saw that it was us!

We used another split-and-reconvene tactic where one of us would flyer a table full of people in The Warren. About 15 seconds into the pitch one of us would interrupt the person flyering and say “No, no, no, you don’t want to see this show”,then take back the flyer and say, “you want to seethisshow” and give a copy of the same exact flyer. Eventually, the third person would come over and do the same thing until the punters were holding onto the flyer refusing to give it back (Suckers!). Finally, our most/least-effective tactic, depending on who you ask, came during our extended run. Zach sat in a bin, in the pouring rain, with a handful of flyers…crying.

In all, Brighton was no doubt the most valuable festival experience we’ve ever had. We received 4 and 5 star reviews, sold out shows, were extended, signed with a manager and won the comedy award. Does it get any better than that? Oh wait, it does – because we made some lifelong friends at The Warren.

Whether it was dancing on the bar with Ella and Josh, escaping the chaos of the festival with Scott and Fayaz behind Kitgum Kitchen, or annoying Lana while she was trying to run the theatre box, The Warren felt like a real home. For three boys who’ve been traveling and living out of a suitcase for the past three years, The Warren reminded us what we left behind when we dropped out of school to pursue clowning. There isn’t a venue on the circuit that’s run as well as The Warren and thats because we’ve got two of the best people running the show: Tom and Nicky. Those two went above and beyond throughout the festival to ensure that everyone who walked through their gates had the best experience possible.

We’ve done other festivals this year that have been going on for 10-15 years and Brighton is lightyears ahead. A lot of that has to do with real-life, superhuman Julian Caddy. There was no one who worked harder than he did throughout the festival. He was out seeing shows from 10am to midnight every day, while still finding a way to give everyone his time. Thanks for letting Zach pester you at Tuxedo Cat in Adelaide!

See you next yearxx

PS – Robin owes us£5!


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The Reviews Hub London is under the editorship of John Roberts.The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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