On Saturday, I sarcastically alluded to the extraordinarily long lead time required to submit show information for the official Edinburgh Fringe programme.
With the Fringe's traditional start date of the first weekend in August, the programme needs to be available no later than the first couple of weeks in June to allow for pre-booking, which means each performer's 40-word maximum of promotional copy needs to be submitted by mid-April, along with the £393.60 fee (unless they want a 25% discount, in which case details need to be submitted a month earlier). Quarter-page display ads featuring a show's poster, often need to be submitted before the end of January at a cost of well over £1000.
Given that a lot of a performer's time before then is spent searching for the right venue for their hastily-titled and concept-free offering (spot all the show posters parodying films in programmes passim), it's hardly surprising that hundreds of listings in the fringe programme all read like the same show and feature little more than a load of press quotes for a show the performer was remotely involved in a few years earlier. Not exactly great when you're a punter in town for a few short days trying to choose between 2,000+ comedy shows and being charged anything up to £16 per show for the privilege.
So imagine what it's like when a performer misses one of these deadlines. Perhaps they need to get funding in place or arrange time away from their day job before confirming a slot, or maybe they're waiting for a cancellation at a particular venue in order to save some money. It's a risky strategy. Such a performer may have a show that's far more fully-formed than most others on offer, but because they're missing from the official programme they'll have to work that much harder with their flyering to stand even the remotest chance of getting more than a couple of bums on seats most days, not to mention standing a chance of persuading reviewers to come and see them as early as possible during their run in the hope that a positive review will led to an increase in audience numbers during the latter couple of weeks.
The reason I mention all this today is that one such performer who's not in the official programme is Iona Dudley-Ward, whose free character-based one-woman show Me, Myself and Iona can be seen downstairs at Rabbie Burns Cafe and Bar at 16:00 every day until August 27th, except the 17th. Thankfully, she did make the much-later deadline for the Fringe website, so you can read more about the show here: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/me-myself-and-iona.
So far, the lack of an "official" listing doesn't seem to have affected audience numbers too badly - although the show did get off to a slightly inauspicious start last weekend when a stage light fell on her noggin. It wasn't part of the show. Owch. Hopefully there won't be any further unpleasant surprises in store over the next couple of weeks; in fact, we all hope that today's show is especially pleasant as it's Iona's birthday. So if you're going along this afternoon, take along some Mr Kipling Fondant Fancies or something.
By way of commemmoration, here's some footage of the character that saw her reach the final of last year's Funny Women competition, unconfident confidence coach Lyn.
As for the Fringe programme, surely a separately administered programme for the comedy section with much later copy and advertising deadlines is long overdue, for the good of the festival as a whole? Discuss...