WOW's guide to the 2014 EDINBURGH FESTIVALS

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

10 things you only know if you’ve been to the Fringe

Published by Matthew Dunne-Miles

Think you’re an Edinburgh Festival veteran? Then you’ll be familiar with these 10 things you only know if you’ve been to the Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe

Maybe once you were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as you made your first venture to the world’s biggest arts festival on the hunt for entertainment, enlightenment or just belly laughs.

But now you are a steely-eyed, seasoned pro – you have studied the city layout, know the best venues and have already booked your table at your favourite restaurant. What’s left, old-timer? It’s time you passed on your knowledge to those looking to try the Fringe for the first time.

Here are 10 things you only know if you’ve been to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

You know turning down flyers isn’t impolite

It’s actually pretty essential. We’ve all seen many a good tourist continue to smile and say ‘thank you’ as they crush their vertebrae under the sheer weight of all those paper advertisements. When you spot the promotion teams down the Royal Mile, get working on your best stone-faced ‘no, thank you’.

You know that natives know best

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Want to know the shows that everyone is talking about? Well then ask the people that everybody is talking to. Bartenders, shop assistants and all kinds of workers from Morningside to The Shore have been asking customers how their days have been and what they’ve seen that’s been good.

You know that being nice to the Edinburgh locals means tapping into the real source of knowledge, finding out about the hottest shows, the best restaurants and most reasonably priced pubs. Good manners cost nothing.

 You know that ‘free’ doesn’t mean ‘unfunny’

All top comedians have to start somewhere and often it’s at the Fringe that they make their big break. You may be sitting in front of one of the funniest acts at the festival, even if it is just you and handful of people packed into a pub’s cupboard listening to them.

You don’t shun the free events as being terrible – they’re there to explore. Also, if they’re not funny then you can at least laugh about how bad it was afterwards.

 You know that ‘free’ doesn’t quite mean ‘free’

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They say there’s no such thing as a free meal and the same applies to Fringe shows too. These comedians have got to eat and will be waving a bucket in your direction when you’re heading for the exit.

As much as you’re sure all the acts would love to say they did it for the spirit of comedy, Fringe veterans know to have a few pound coins at their disposal.

You know the audience makes the atmosphere

Fringe venues can often be a little on the intimate side, so a bit of good will goes a long way. If you sit down with your arms folded, waiting impatiently for the performers to prove why they were worth the ticket fee, you’re only contributing in your small way to a terrible atmosphere to build a show upon.

An experienced audience member will clap big or laugh loud to get the poor sucker on stage relaxed and surely make the best of the show for everyone involved.

 You know hecklers never prosper

You’ve seen it play out both ways. Either the mouthy guy in the back row gets well and truly slammed by someone who is a paid insult professional (we’ve seen the likes of Frankie Boyle and Jerry Sadowitz dish out the kind of put-downs at the Fringe to make their targets want to curl up in a ball and whimper), or he continues to slur his way through the entire gig until the comedian has to focus on them for the entirety of the gig. Either way, it’s never worth piping up.

 You know not to bother comedians on the street

Long gone are the days when you would have cornered Tim Vine on the Cowgate to incorrectly repeat his jokes back to him. Comedians in the street usually mean they’re rushing to another gig or they have just finished for the day and are probably not looking to do material outside the Subway in Tollcross.

You catch their eye and you give a nod of affirmation, Fringe vet.

You know sitting in the front row means you’re part of the show

Comedy – and occasionally theatre – is an interactive medium, but Fringe venues are usually pretty short on lighting. Performers interact with those they can see and that generally means the front row. You know from past experiences that unless you feel like sharing your career plans with a room full of strangers or becoming  a red-faced prop in an impromptu theatre production then it’s best to avoid that front row of seats like the plague.

You know not to take jokes too personally

OK, you grabbed a last-minute ticket to a show and dashed in to find that the only seat left is in the front row directly centre stage. You’re in this one and that’s not changing. What do you do? You enjoy it – that’s what. The silver-tongued joke-smith on stage is being paid to give you a few jibes so anyone who has been to the Fringe before knows to just enjoy the ride. Laugh along, take the comments in the way they are intended – a joke.

Finally…

You know you will run into Phill Jupitus at some point

Phill Jupitus
[Jupitus:  then, now, forever - Getty]

As sure as you are born and as sure as the day is long, you will eventually run into the Jupitus. You don’t know how, nor do you know when, but Phill is an unavoidable force of nature when it comes to the Fringe. You will be crossing paths whether you like it or not.

• How to make the most of the Edinburgh Festival

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Matthew is a freelance journalist & copywriter who is currently in the role of 'Digital Media Intern' at WOW247.

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