Room for a Laugh: Edinburgh Fringe tips by Tom Taylor

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Room for a Laugh column: The world of Tom Taylor, promoter of Harrogate’s Sitting Room comedy club and finalist in So You Think You’re Funny contest at Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Tomorrow comedians, actors, musicians and artists of all types – but mainly comedians – descend on Edinburgh for yet another Fringe.

I did my first full month last year in a four-hand show called ‘One of Us Might Be Famous’.

Subsequent to that show one of our quartet, Fern Brady, has appeared on 8 Out of 10 Cats, Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience and Newsnight so I now deeply regret not calling the show ‘One or More of Us Might Be Famous’.

I feel like I have prophesised my own mediocrity (and that of two other comedians, one of whom has now given up) and I only have myself to blame. Myself and EdFringe’s maximum title length regulations.

Anyway, as a recognised stalwart of the Fringe, I have put together five top tips for performers and audience alike which I hope you will find useful should you ever go.

Spending a whole month performing an underprepared show in a distant city can be tough so, if you like, see this as an essential survival guide for the month, like Waitrose Essential Ardennes Pâté. Essential!

Refer to the Art Festival, the Military Tattoo, the Festival Fringe, the International Festival and the Book Festival as ‘Edinburgh’.

There really is no need to distinguish between festivals. Everyone understands ‘Edinburgh’ actually means ‘Festival’, especially the locals.

The city actually closes and reverts back to farmland at the end of August. It’s like Glastonbury but cobbled.

Live how you would normally live when not in Scotland. Wake up, cry, call your parents, cry, start drinking, leave your reasonably priced rented accommodation, start walking up a hill, walk up a different hill, hand out and receive flyers, have a falafel wrap, find somewhere to be alone for just one minute (toilet cubicle), vacate toilet cubicle for another comic, cry into your pint, walk home up a hill (Edinburgh was designed by Escher).

See every show. There are over four venues with shows on throughout the day.

I know that seems a lot but compare that to over 240 television channels included in Sky’s Variety Bundle.

Not so impossible now, eh? Do go through them alphabetically though, chronologically can be overwhelming.

Meet your heroes. They’re your heroes for goodness’ sake! They won’t let you down. They can’t, it’s not in their job description.

Unlike us mere mortals they never perform to four people in the corner of a nightclub or have their show programmed in a Yurt tent in the middle of Cowgate.

Thus, they never get sad or turn to drink. If they’re unshaven and slumped on a bench it means they really want to talk to you.

Talk about Scottish Independence at every available opportunity, especially to Scottish people, or ‘the Scotch’.

If you’re a comedian, talk about Braveheart.

I’m certain this has never been done before and if I were doing a show this year I wouldn’t be giving you such a gem.

For Braveheart, you can also substitute in Alex Salmond. Remember Scotland elected him (silly!) I’ve forgotten how we got Cameron, I don’t think it matters.

So, it’s that easy. Have a great time! And if you’re at ‘the Festival’ on August 12, why not come and see me compete for £500 of Nando’s vouchers? For the love of art, eh?

Sitting Room Comedy Club returns to the St George Hotel, Harrogate on Wednesday, September 10 with Sitting Room favourite and celebrity quizzer, Paul Sinha, plus a strong undercard of Christian Reilly, Ian Smith and compère Katie Mulgrew.

Tickets and more information are available at

Tom Taylor tweets at @tomtails