You might think the answer to the question is “not much”, and I might have done too, apart from the insight from eavesdropping on a phone conversation! Well, not so much eavesdropping, this is an actor we are talking about, so each word beautifully enunciated from the table behind us.
This actor was from a two man show we’d seen earlier in the week, and from the biog this man has a “proper” job but is obviously looking to see if this might go full time. His comments to a mate back home made me laugh and reflect that plus ça change…well, see what you think!
Word of mouth hadn’t taken off – well, you know what? Sometimes it doesn’t. And quite often certainly not in two weeks, even at the biggest arts festival in the UK. I know when I’ve chatted to some producers at different shows it’s a bit the same, that there’s been no big order. Well, sometimes you have to do the graft. Which brings me to the next point.
It’s all down to the work we put in – when isn’t it? Even getting a lucky break is usually backed up by a lot of slog. Right time, right place maybe, but you have to have the right product, which probably means you’ve honed the product and its presentation over time.
It’s really tiring – when isn’t it? I am sure pitching their show every day to punters looking for tickets is knackering, but if they hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have gone to see the show, as it wasn’t on our radar. We’re not looking for you, whether you’re a show or a new food. You have to find us.
We’re living in a caravan – sometimes the Ritz (or, in Edinburgh’s case, perhaps the G&V) just has to wait. I can’t think of many food producers I know who are living it up in top hotels when they are out doing shows. It’s about where you put the investment, what’s really important to you.
There’s an agent coming tomorrow – maybe it’s a buyer from a big chain, maybe they’ll turn up, maybe they’ll order. Whatever, your product needs to be great every day, not just tomorrow. Because who says the big chain is the best thing? Who says that someone you have a conversation with today couldn’t just bring something really important to your business. Which brings me to the next point.
We have met some interesting people – a little more positive. Networking, sharing experience and skills, all of that can help build the business just as effectively, if not more sustainably, than one big break.
We’ve sold 85% of our tickets – I don’t know how you make money at Edinburgh, I can imagine it’s not a moneyspinner, in the same way I can see most of the big food shows may not be. There’s a lot of expense, but it’s about the exposure. And the networking. And maybe the lucky break. But 85% would seem like quite a good result to me, compared to a couple of shows we saw. Even Michael McIntyre had to begin somewhere, and that beginning is unlikely to be selling out Wembley. Likewise with food, you might start out at the East Midlands Food Festival, but you have to start somewhere.
I don’t know whether they will make the big time or not. Personally, I didn’t love the show, it was funny but not particularly clever. Or different. I certainly didn’t feel a need to see it again, and yet there are several shows that I would race back up for tonight (if you see Luke Kempner out on tour with The Only Way is Downton, that’s worth the ticket price, as is Beyond from Circa).
The same for me applies to food. I meet businesses all the time, sometimes with a really unique idea, though not so often. For the rest, there has to be a spark of something that makes them stand out. And then they have to deliver. And with food, as with theatre, you have to keep on delivering. You’re only as good as your last batch!