The Edinburgh Fringe. That heady time of year when the city’s population quadruples and for an entire month you spend every second you’re outside treating poor unsuspecting flyerers like they’re war criminals.
I know, I know – it seems unreasonable of me to be a Fringe crank and, in many ways, it is. To have unfettered access to the world’s largest arts festival is something pretty special, given how many people spend a small fortune coming here to visit. Not to mention the fact that it has enabled, nay, encouraged my life-long quest to discover the absolute worst show that’s ever existed (a task that has proven surprisingly difficult, given the plethora of terrible the fringe generally has to offer).
But in this, my seventh fringe as a resident of this fair city, the cookie finally crumbled. And not just because I work right in the heart of Fringe-land and spent the entirety of August dodging tourists, ticket touts and inordinately expensive food and drink. (In the words of the great Anthea Middleton: “Idea for next year: Special travelators for residents who just want to go to Sainsburys to do their shop.”)
No. It was because it finally spread its little Fringey fingers into that hallowed of spaces: my online dating profile.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. For the first time since I ventured into this crazy virtual world, I got Fringed. And it is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.
Basically, what happened is that I would match with someone online, spend oodles of seconds – sometimes even whole minutes – thinking up an appropriately witty opening salvo, only to have them reply with…an advert for their Fringe show.
On more than one occasion.
Now, the important thing to remember here is I’m not an overly confident person in this particular area of my life. I do not, as a rule, expect the adoring masses to fall at my feet should I grace them with my bitchin’ one-liners. But when you’ve spent weeks engulfed by the noise and hustle and distraction of a major festival while navigating a stressful job before wading your way to the relative solace of home (until the fireworks start, of course. Every night. Twice.) the absolute last thing you want is to have the thrill of matching with someone online sunk by the torpedo of them using that space to advertise you their friggin’ Fringe show.
And it’s not something that only I experienced, by the way. It’s an actual thing.
Hey, look. I get that the Fringe is a dog-eat-dog world for performers. There are billions of shows to choose from, and having any kind of edge is an important thing.
But guess whose show I didn’t go to see? That’s right. The pain in the arses who squandered my absolute comedy gold openings in order to advertise gigs that would inevitably be neither brilliant, nor so terrible that I could finally achieve my aforementioned worst-show-ever goal.
So if, for some unfathomable reason, you are someone who has ever considered trying this strategy and you happen to have stumbled onto this particular blogpost, I implore you – do the dating world a favour and don’t.
Unless your show is the worst show ever, of course. In which case, you know where I am.