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Comedian Adam Riches On ... Recovering from a bad review

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Adam Riches won last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, sponsored by Foster's, for his show Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches, which transfers to the Soho Theatre next month (13 February -17 March 2012).

Ahead of this he’s giving a talk at the venue on putting a show together for the Edinburgh Fringe - a subject about which he knows more than most. It’s at 4pm tomorrow (27 January) and tickets are free. Here tells us how he turned disaster into triumph...

One triangle of one star, ‘Avoid’.

That was the first review for the first show I took up to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2003. I think it came out in the first week too and represented the high watermark of all the other reviews we received that year. Although I could just be making that up to make the story better…

Either way, what was very real was how much it cost me financially and how hard it hit me emotionally. It was a real double whammy. The loss of money I could take, it was after all just money, there’d be more at some point, somehow, so no big whoop. It was the artistic rejection I found hardest to handle. I’d spent seven years on the Manchester and London Fringe gaining the confidence and skills to write, perform and produce my own shows in preparation for this and there it was in print, the answer to the one question I had about whether I could cut it with the big boys. One triangle of one star. ‘Avoid’.

It was a good ten months before I wrote something new after that and a good three years before I decided to take a show up again. But you know what, in taking that plunge, I gave myself one of those crossroads moments you only get to call a ‘crossroad moment’ when you have hindsight on your side. I got back on the horse, swallowed my pride and made a decision to beat Edinburgh at its own game. I ditched the notion of a promoter, I thought long and hard about the type of show I wanted to be in and I stayed patient when the audience and reviews weren’t coming. I treated it as a long term project and it paid off.

So that’s why I wanted to stage a talk. To offer some free advice to those that were feeling overawed, confused or just plain intimidated by the Festival. It should be a big undertaking but it shouldn’t be an impossible one, which is maybe sometimes how it can feel, especially at this end, before your show has even been formed. Trouble is, it’s at this end that most of the decisions have to be made, so by chatting about my Festivals and answering some of your questions, I’ll hopefully provide a voice that I think I would have found useful when I first went up.

Topics covered will be choosing a venue, hiring a promoter, picking a timeslot, designing and distributing posters and flyers, to PR or not to PR and papering previews. I’ll try to offer a recognisable, feasible path through the minefield and encourage you to focus most of your attention on the most important thing of all, the show itself. The talk will be based on my own experiences, on things that worked out for me, so should not be seen as a one-size fits all template. But there will be common ground that we’ll explore as well as ways to keep your show on track and some money in your pocket!

Bring Me the Head of Adam Riches is at the Soho Theatre from 13 February to 17 March. His free Edinburgh Talk takes places tomorrow (27 January) at 4pm. Click here for free tickets.


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