Edinburgh Fringe

Robin Grainger: from an audience of one, to global news - 5 mad moments from the last year

Robin Grainger

Last year, on opening night, I found out I had sold one ticket. I decided to do the show anyway. Within a week, the story was global news; my audience member has spoken to Kate Copstick (legendary comedy critic for newspapers like The Scotsman and The Herald), who was at my venue to review the show after me. She put a post up about the show and my commitment to do an hour long show to just one person: Mike, described by her as my "audient" (which is a harrowing word to search on Google - 'One audience member or listener') and gave the show 5 stars.

Robin Grainger

The story went viral within the comedy industry over the first weekend of August and by Monday 8th August, I got a phone call from a reporter at the BBC. We had a chat, an article went out at 4pm and, by 4.30pm, I found myself the 3rd most viewed story on the entire BBC website. From that day to this, my life has been entirely different.

Here are 5 mad moments in the intervening 12 months...

The sheer span of the story

Once the BBC posted about the show, I was inundated with requests to do interviews across the globe; in the first week of August I did 50 radio interviews and the story was in newspapers in shops in Europe. I did an interview on BBC World Service one day and a friend in Australia messaged me asking why I was on his TV the next day.

An audience member told me that he had heard me on CBC radio in Canada and had come to see the show as a result. After the show, both of us stood in the middle of the world's largest arts festival, he asked me "So, what else is there to do in Edinburgh?" I replied "Nothing really, best just to head back home." Hopefully he didn't fly over just for my show!

Not too long, ago I was walking in Edinburgh and someone stopped me to say they had read the story while on holiday in the south of France last summer. These moments truly baffle me, and they are still happening almost 12 months later.

People recognise me now

Robin Grainger

I did shows at The Stand comedy club in Newcastle and the incredible Chris Ramsey was in on the Friday night and watched my set and afterwards said "I knew I recognised you! You're the comedian who had one person in the gig!" Which was a very cool interaction. The following day I was getting breakfast in the city centre and a man ran across the road, almost getting hit by a car in the process, to have a chat and get a selfie, which really added a risky event to my otherwise standard avocado on toast.

I was also stopped for selfies a lot during August, got lots of messages on social media about how funny the show was and on many occasions people would just shout "Well done Robin!" at me while passing in the street which is really heartwarming. Amazing comedians Kevin Bridges and Iain Stirling also mentioned my show across social media and urged people to see it.

Radio and media accolades

I did a LOT of media last August and was on my phone answering every single request for probably 18 hours a day. (I don't currently have a manager/agent and did all of this on my own which I'm very proud of). My mum messaged me to say "Turn on BBC Radio Scotland!" and I found out that the station does a thing called Thought For The Day where a religious person likens a news story to a parable. Turns out I'm the shepherd and my audience member is the lost sheep in a story about perseverance.

Robin Grainger

I became a "Hero Of The Week' on Helen Skelton's BBC Radio 5 Live show, and had wonderful conversations on countless radio shows with presenters such as Claudia Winkleman, Michelle McManus and Jamie Theakston who were all delightful.

Fan gifts

During the course of the fringe run last year, I would often arrive at my venue to find presents; clothing companies sent me free merchandise, people would send me copies of newspapers and magazines from across the world etc, but my absolute favourite was a large portrait that an NHS nurse in Edinburgh had drawn of me using only a biro pen, which my venue pinned up outside on the boards with review clippings and articles. It's absolutely stunning and I love it.

I was doing a tour date of last year's fringe show at The Y Theatre in Leicester then, the following night, a preview of this year's show at The Big Difference and some audience members brought me bath bombs (I did a bit of material in last year's show about a well known soap shop), so I happily got the train back to Edinburgh in the best smelling carriage ever.

Mike returned

At the end of the last show last year, I was shaking hands and taking selfies with the sold-out audience (once the news broke at the start of August, the fringe run sold out then I went on tour with it) and a man walked out of the room with a huge smile across his face. The man turned out to be Mike, my audience member from the very first show! He had got the train from London to Edinburgh, bought the last ticket and snuck in to see the show again. I asked him why he didn't heckle me and make himself known as he would have got a standing ovation. He chuckled and replied "I just wanted to see the show with an audience this time." Beautiful.

We chatted about the insane month, and I told him my idea for this year's fringe show. I wanted to call the show An Audient with Robin Grainger in homage to Billy Connolly's incredible show An Audience with Billy Connolly (where he speaks about incontinence trousers, one of my all time favourite bits) and that I'd try and get the biggest venue possible to use for a photoshoot of one person in an empty room, and I asked Mike if he would be up for being in the photo.

Robin Grainger

Fast forward to this June and I am onstage at the iconic Edinburgh Playhouse, with Mike sat in the centre of an empty 3,059 seat theatre getting photos taken for this year's flyer, all because I decided to do the show to one person. Life is wonderful.

My show is on at The Stand Comedy Club (Stand 2) at 8pm every night until 27th August and it's a really funny show about conquering fear and having a laugh along the way. I'd love you to come and see it and I'm very pleased to say that tickets are selling very well so you won't be the only one there this year :)

Oh, and Mike has already been... he snuck in last Friday and heckled at the end. The house lights went up and he got the ovation he thoroughly deserves. I was speechless for about 4 hours after because he hadn't told me he was coming to the show.

Robin Grainger

Share this page