In 2013 a major comedy management/production company employed me and 11 other 19-23 year olds to distribute promotional bits of paper to the often uncaring inhabitants of Edinburgh. The practice which I now know to be 'flyering' is very much a necessary evil at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival Fringe. That this company employed me despite my skillset and general disposition being almost diametrically opposite those required to be an effective flyerer is but one of the many quirks of this strange festivalular beast. As I am now taking my own debut show to the Fringe International Festival Fringe and will once again have to distribute flyers, the British Comedy Guide asked me to unlock some of the many painful memories from that month in 2013 in order to dispense some wisdom to any first time flyerers out there.
So, without further ado, here are my top tips!
As cities go Edinburgh is notorious for eschewing a single, easy gradient, opting instead to manifest itself as a bizarre multi-level hellscape something akin to a Borgesian labyrinth or MC Escher SimCity, and as a flyerer you bet your bottom dollar/ass you're going to have to traipse up these hills, stairwells and cobbled alleys for up to 27 hours a day. As such you should ensure that you find a comfortable pair of shoes. Once you've found these shoes, get eight other pairs of equal comfort level because those that you already have are guaranteed to make you bleed within two days.
If you are already a comedy fan (presumably you must be to do such a godawful thing for the majority of your summer), the Edinburgh Fringe International Fringe Festival Fringe can be a very exciting and overwhelming place where you will daily rub shoulders with your heroes and people who are more famous, successful and sexually attractive than you will ever be. These people who you admire, desire and envy are hearing every word of your embarrassing pitches, your corny taglines that you've come up with for acts you've barely any knowledge of ('the old dog is back - and at his best!') and worst of all they will look you dead in the eye when you are holding a placard bearing the grinning face of [REDACTED]. There are few things more embarrassing than someone you respect seeing you debasing yourself for some free accommodation and sub-sub minimum wage. Embrace it. Zen-like calm and the key to making it through this festival lies in the accepting the muck and the shame - get into the dirt.
Nothing says 'not funny comedy' like a student, tears streaming down their face thrusting a flyer at you, bawling 'funny comedy'. The pressure, the exertion and the rejection of flyering for a major production company are guaranteed to make you cry bitter tears, but for God's sake do them in private! Your employers will have likely hired a lock-up or community building somewhere near the Pleasance Courtyard - in 2013 we were located in the Salvation Army building - this building will likely have plenty of nooks and crannies perfect for silently howling and wetting the front of your branded polo shirt with salty sadness.
The Festival Festival International Fringe Festival is like a big holiday where everyone's exhausted, drunk and constantly questioning the decisions they've made to bring them to where they are and it's brilliant. After vocally decrying how difficult, unpleasant, mentally and physically damaging I found the 2013 festival I have returned every year to take part in this gloriously stupid thing in some way. I exhaust all of my work holiday allowance on it and bore colleagues with talk of nothing else. In 2013 I was - technically - paid to go to the Fringe, now I do so at my own personal expense because I love everything about it. Come September you'll be overjoyed to be back in whatever humdrum existence you've come from, but when October rolls around you'll want nothing more than to be crawling around the sodden streets, packing yourself into a sweltering attic room and sucking down Irn Bru. Enjoy the Fringe while it lasts!