So I’ve nearly finished my month long run at the Edinburgh Fringe, via London where one particular event hogged all the media attention. The Olympics, don’t know if you’ve heard of it?
After experiencing both, I’ve noticed some subtle differences.
The Olympics opening ceremony was globally acknowledged as a creative, visual and musical success on every level, and viewed by billions.
This won’t happen at the Edinburgh Fringe.
In London people are still loving the Olympics, and it’s nearly half done.
In Scotland, people are already over the Fringe, and it’s only just started.
The Olympics happens every four years, and people wish it were yearly.
The Edinburgh Fringe happens yearly, and many locals wish it would just sod off.
Athletes don’t hand out flyers. Even the fourth reserve on the Bolivian water polo team, who can’t even swim.
At the Edinburgh Fringe, everyone hands out flyers. Even the big names. Last week I was flyering next to Bill Hicks, who is both famous and dead. That’s a huge effort.
People want tickets to the Olympics. For one ticket, I caught the last train to Staines after midnight, waited fifteen minutes, was let to an abandoned tunnel by a series of coded text messages (they were in Welsh – a code the English are yet to crack). Where I met a guy who shone a torch in my eyes, so I couldn’t identify him. Cost me twice the listed price, but it was an adequate seat to the semi-final of the B-Grade men’s 85kg weightlifting. The British guy finished second last.
At Edinburgh, you can’t give away the tickets. When I arrived at the train station, on my walk from the train to the toilet, I was offered free tickets to thirty-three different comedy shows, and one sexual favour. Actually, twenty of the comedy tickets were for musical and improv. So I was offered tickets to thirteen comedy shows.
Exercise does not inspire marathon drinking sessions. Only marathons. In London, the pubs and clubs are not full of revelers all celebrating the triumph of humanity that is supposed to be the Olympics. They’re full of sad sacks that are there all year round, because they can’t stand being at home or don’t have one.
In Edinburgh, most punters are at home watching the Olympics, or counting the pennies they’ve got left until next benefit day, thanks financial crisis. So the pubs and clubs are full of performers, all whingeing about the triumph and celebration of the human spirit that the Fringe used to be.
Olympians are naturally gifted.
Fringe performers are naturally self-loathing and attention seeking.
Olympians train ridiculously hard. Unless you’re an Australian swimmer, then you just lose.
Fringe performers work just as hard, if not harder. They put in more hours than an Olympian with all the writing, rehearsing, performing, marketing, flyering, and twice as many in the pub talking about how hard they work.
At the Olympics, the gold medal goes to the best performing athlete.
At Edinburgh, nobody remembers who wins the top prize, or even what it’s called, and all the money goes to whoever’s on the telly.
An Olympian’s sole focus is being the best, or at least doing the best they can at their chosen discipline.
At the Edinburgh Fringe, a performer’s sole focus is trying to change the world through art. Or at least it should be.