I came up with the idea of Stand Up Tragedy at the end of the Summer 2011. I started enquiring about venues and, after a casual conversation with a friend of mine who does freelance radio work, I found myself going for a meeting at the Leicester Square Theatre to talk about putting the night on.
The next thing I knew I was booked downstairs in the Lounge Room on the first Monday of each month for the first five months of 2012. The easy bit was over. Now I had to produce and market a show, basically on my own.
Luckily I persuaded a few people to help me out which probably just about kept me sane at the end of it all.
But even though I threw myself in at the deep end I luckily just about managed swim. I managed to put together a series of really interesting nights. Even the third night, which sadly had very little audience, still deserved to have had one. Apart from that night the rest of the SUT run was really well attended. I also managed to raise some money from a crowdfunding campaign which, whilst it got no where near it's target, did allow me to pay the performers. Only a small amount. But something never the less.
The task was to book people from a variety of creative disciplines to performed short tragedies. Basically what you see is what you get, audience members who came to SUT and saw a series of people standing up and "doing tragedy". What each act considered tragic was up to them. I sourced both established and unknown creators who I thought would fit the night and booked them in to perform. We had comedians, musicians, authors, true storytellers, cabaret acts, aural storytellers, live art, improv, spoken word, and acts that you can't really pin down as any one thing. And the variety of what they did didn't just come from their style, it came from how they interpreted the concept. The more varied the interpretations and styles the better the night worked.We ended each night with a cathartic sing along. Audiences laughed a lot, occasionally cried and generally had a really great evening.
I'm pleased to find the format worked. I really loved the anarchic variety and the atmosphere it created. So I fully intend to do more with the show.
The current plan is to take it up to the Edinburgh Festival as part of the Free Fringe in 2013. It will be a nightly show made up of tragic acts that are mostly sourced from the vast variety of talented shows up at the festival. Both a cabaret and a showcase.
Before I take the show up I intend to hold some London based nights to raise money for the adventure. I'll probably hold them in pubs in different parts of the city, in what I guess you could call a very localised tour.
I recorded the night and released it as the free weekly The SUT Podcast, the last podcast of the 5th show came out on Friday 29th June 2012 . When we start the shows up again in 2013 we'll be recording and releasing more, and we'll be recording during the 2013 Edinburgh run too.
In the meantime, to keep the tragedy going, I'm going to be releasing Stand Up Tragedy Spotlights. These will go out every other friday.
Stand Up Tragedy Spotlights will be short form podcasts, between 5 and 15 mins long, that shine the focus on a performance from the first 5 months of shows. Tasty little tragic morsels to wet our appetites for the future shows. They'll go out in the same feed as their older siblings which can be downloaded from iTunes, downloaded or streamed from the soundcloud or streamed via your mobile on the free stitcher smart radio app.
10 things I've learnt from Stand Up Tragedy's first run?
- To crowd fund you need a crowd as Amanda 'Fucking' Palmer will tell you.
- It's a tough sell to ask people to crowd fund a project and at the same time ask them to support you with their patronage. Not if your tickets cost £10. You also need better perks/products to offer people than I came up with.
- Your friends and family are not your fans. The maths of crowdfunding needs to account for this. 150 fans will give you £10 each. 150 friends and family will not. Although those who do give will give a lot. And those who can afford it the least will give the most.
- If price of entry and of drinks are very expensive this doesn't mean anyone is making any money. Or at least not the people running the nights and the acts performing.
- The number of people who say they'll attend an event on facebook has nothing to do with whether they'll attend it in real life.
- Bank Holidays are bad days to do shows on. You should remember to look out for them when booking Monday slots!
- The show is at it's best when it has a real variety of acts, veering from one feeling to a different one, whilst linked by a central theme.
- Artists will be really pleased/grateful for small amounts of money.
- Doing an interview with a newspaper doesn't mean they'll run the story.
- In London people will leave a show they are enjoying at the interval due to the trauma late night transport.