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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Fringe diary: Final fling
The Sketch Club
The Sketch Club have had appreciative but small audiences
Performer Tom Barnes of comedy act the Sketch Club has mixed feelings as he winds up an exhausting three weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

19 August

After two packed (and crackling) shows on Friday and Saturday, with lovely weather, Sunday's audience was small: in fact it was three, including the man from The Scotsman, which means that if you count Anne-Marie's boyfriend, there were three times as many of us as there were of them.

Nonetheless, after having given them the option of pulling (it's never fun being on your own in an audience), we did a blindingly good show.

Tom Barnes
Tom Barnes will be glad to get some sleep

Audiences just are low this year. Over the weekend we saw two shows, Live at the Mausoleum, which despite a rave write-up in the Sunday Times has had tiny audiences, and Taboo, which has got so little audience he has decided to quit a week early. Both were excellent, if very mad.

23 August

Four more performances to go, and the strain is starting to tell. We're almost out of flyers, but whereas in the first two weeks audiences were increasing, this week they've been averaging about 10 each night, which can get a bit depressing. This is in spite of our one fabulous review and fantastic audience reaction.

The show is getting better and better, and Stacey has promised that she can overcome her ghost phobia and return for the last couple of nights, but our target audience is just not here.

Yes, this is supposed to be the first of a three-year plan, but our normal London audience (25 to 40-year-olds) is just not present in Edinburgh, or not at our show at any rate, whereas the students and 45-pluses just love us.

The Sketch Club
The show is aimed at 25 to 40 age group

One couple in their 70s came in on Wednesday with faces like death and were chuckling, then roaring with laughter, from about 15 minutes in.

We are all rather lacking in sleep, too. The Fringe day doesn't stop until about 0400 BST, which allows for five hours of drinking (and recently for me dancing) after our show comes down. With that much booze inside me, I find it difficult to sleep and am often up at about 0900 BST. I am writing this at 0700 BST, after a particularly sleepless night.

Yesterday I saw three shows, and was in two. I have been drafted into the play The Sitcom Trials, which has garnered some unfairly terrible reviews, but is still selling better than Sketch Club, and would have seen another had not friends turned up in the bar, and we started talking till 0200 BST.

I have met lots of lovely people up here and everybody, including people whose name you don't know, is your instant friend.

25 August

I have seen nothing absolutely terrible at the Fringe this year, though the two best shows I've seen (apart from ours) are That's Me on the Left, in the Parka, Spalding Gray with piano, lovely moving show about self-consciousness and falling in love, and Count Arthur Strong's Forgotten Egypt - a totally mad character piece, but hysterically funny.

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

The buzz

In focus

Fringe diarists



See also:

04 Aug 02 | Entertainment
10 Aug 02 | Entertainment
17 Aug 02 | Entertainment
22 Jul 02 | Entertainment
17 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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