Comedy Festival has rolled around again. This year is our 11th consecutive festival in our great city. Doesn’t time fly?
All the preparation and rehearsal has long been finished and now our days are spent readjusting our body clocks and resting our voices for the immense slog that is ahead of us. We do 22 shows, every night except for Mondays, over a period of 4 weeks. We don’t get off stage until 10:45pm and it is hard to come down from the highs of doing a great show. Stand up comedy is truly one of the best jobs in the world when it works. There’s only one downside…
Flyering. v. To hand out flyers to unsuspecting punters in a futile attempt to get them to chose your show ahead of the 500+ other shows.
Back in 2003, when we first started out as youthfully exuberant little upstarts, flyering was great. We really got the feeling that we were a part of a festival – getting amongst the masses of people spewing out of the Melbourne Town Hall and proudly flogging your own show. Excitedly meeting other comics, discussing different flyering techniques, stopping every hour for our “union enforced beer break” upstairs in the Peter Cook Bar, rubbing shoulders with heroes and legends of comedy. We had so much energy. Ernie and I would go to battle each night, back to back, unloading thousands of flyers with our faces on them as swarms of punters swallowed us up.
And it works. Of all the marketing and advertising available to us, print ads in newspapers, street press, the MICF guide, posters, radio ads, internet ads, billboards and pictures on the sides of trams, flyering is the only method you can be 100% sure that it works. You hand a flyer to a person in the street, then you see that person in the audience. Sale!
I’m not sure if it’s just me getting older, but flyering seems a lot harder this year. The swarms of people have gone and the steps of the Town Hall are crawling with comics & mercenaries with no one to push their wares on. You end up having the same conversations with people over and over again, hypothesising different reasons as to where everyone is. It’s the last hot night for ages, people are having barbecues; it’s raining so everyone has stayed home; there’s a footy game at the G; the economy; the government. In actual fact, the people are in theatres watching shows in the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Every year the attendance record gets set. Everyone is seeing shows, there are just too many shows for everyone to see.
Maybe it is the wisdom of age that makes me realise this. Or maybe the marketing strategy has changed in the last 11 years. I dare say it has. Facebook didn’t exist 11 years ago. The term “social media” was yet to be coined. When an ad “went viral”, it just meant that you did a huge letterbox drop in your neighbourhood. There used to be a lot more face to face advertising. Frankly, I’d be happy to see the end of flyering. It’s tiring. It’s depressing. It’s not the ideal way to prepare for a show.
In the words of the great Danny Glover: “I’m too old for this shit.”