Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Tortonto Fringe Festival

By Guest Reviewer: Jimmy Hogg
Guest Festival Ranking: 4 out of 5 bow ties.

Guest Festival Description: The "Get in, get the money and get out" fringe.

The Sunny-side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe is the bomb)

1. All centralized and within walking distance, you don't need a car or even a bike- it's easy to get around.

2. Venues. The venues are fantastic- better than any other venue I've been to- and really well organized.

3. Fringe Club. There's a fringe club where artists and patrons congregate every night. I think it's really important for every fringe to have a base like this for people to meet.

The Flip Side: (Give 3 reasons this fringe sucks or what makes it difficult)

1. I haven't found this, but a lot of people think it's hard to get audiences. However if you look at the stats the average box office return to artists is amongst the highest in North America. I think you just have to work a lot harder to get bums on seats cos it's a big city and there's a lot going on.

2. Comps. This is a problem with a number of fringes. I would like all artists to be able to see my show for free- obviously not ahead of those paying, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot- but 5 minutes before the doors close, any artists waiting should get in for free. Otherwise artists don't go and see each others work which is a shame as I think that's one of those most beneficial things about the fringe. Some FOH Managers will let you use a password- it's at their discretion- but this just means that you have to know the artists who are going so that you can tell them your password. It's just a pain in the arse for everyone.

3. Beer prices. For some reason the fringe club was charging over $5 for a 16oz pint in a plastic cup. If I remember rightly it was $5.75. This is ridiculous considering you can buy 20oz's of the same beer much cheaper all over the city. And come on, we're fringe artists, we like beer, but we don't have tonnes of cash. That pissed me off.

Your Money Sock: Size 10 men's sock. It's not cheap here to drink, but the public transit is cheap and you can get anywhere in the city- including the airport for $2.75. And there is an abundance of cheap eats that are really good- you just need to know where to go. Like any city it can be expensive if you don't know what's what.

How to Fill Your Seats: What’s the best way to fill your seats here marketing-wise? Flyer, flyer, flyer. Firstly 2 days before the fringe starts paper the town. And that doesn't mean leaving big wedges of flyers in every coffee shop- leave just a few. But poster everywhere so that people get used to seeing your image, so that by the time you flyer fringe line-ups (which you must do relentlessly for at least the first 5 days of the fringe) people are already aware of your show. And talk, talk, talk. Don't just hand a flyer to people, talk to them- and be up beat, none of this, "Yeah, it's a pretty good show-" sell it! And finally, go and see shows- you'll mix with patrons and artists, you'll be able to give recommendations and you'll become a part of the community which is rewarding in itself, but also puts bums on seats.

Is there a fringe central? Yes.

Fringe Specs:
Age in Fringe Years: The frisky 19 year old with a bit of a premature ejaculation problem.

Festival Dates: July 4-15

Application Deadline: January 31, 2008

Applying: www.fringetoronto.com

Festival Cost: $660 application fee + $20 processing fee.

Ticket Prices: Do you get 100% of door? Oh, yes.

What’s the ticket range price? $10 max.

Do performers see other shows for free? Negotiable.

Payment: Do you get paid each night? If not how? Were you paid on time if the money was sent to you? Yeah, paid cash each night and the rest of the money was in my hand very quickly. They're very good at that.

Showcase: Is there a showcase for out of town performers? Not specifically for OOTP's, but there is a live chat show every night which you can sign up for and do a segment of your show or talk about it.

Venue Location: Can you walk to all the venues? If not how did you get around?
Easy to get anywhere.

Travel-in: What city do you fly into and how did you get to you destination? Toronto. You can get local transport downtown and be at your digs in around an hour from the airport.

Billeting: Did you use fringe fest lodging? If so, how was the lodging? If not, who did you stay with? I stayed with friends.

About Mr. Fringey's Guest Reviewer: Jimmy Hogg, world class performer/writer

Check him out at: www.myspace.com/jimmyjimmyhogg

What categories does your show fall under? (IE, comedy, women, religious, etc). Comedy.

How long have you been fringing?
3 years.

How many fringes do you do each year?

What has been your favorite fringe?
Minneapolis 2006, cos it was my first big fringe with a solo show and I was stunned by how many people turned out to see my show and how responsive the audiences were

What has been your biggest money making fringe?

What fringe did you make your most important contact?
Impossible to say, I've met so many people at so many fringes. If you put yourself out there you will meet influential, intresting and exciting people.

In one word, why do you fringe?

What's the name of the show (s) you are fringing this year?
A Brief History of Petty Crime

Do you use your own tech person at your shows? If so, how much do you pay them?
No, I have no tech person.

Any fringes to avoid?
Sorry to say it, but Fraser Valley. There was literally no-one there. No-one. It was a disaster for everyone involved.


Tim said...

This is my armchair traveller talking, but it seems to me that Toronto shows usually have the most eye-grabbing titles. Did you notice that?

And did you find Toronto fringegoers and/or the press favoring any one particular type of show (musical/ stand up/ one person comedy, etc.)?

Mr. Fringey said...

Yeah, I think the Canadian shows go for the glitz in titles which seems to be a more European phenomena. It doesn't work so well in the states, although you think it would.

Toronto seemed to be to go for the mondo bizarro stuff.