Steffan Alun: Edinburgh Is The World’s Largest Green Room

Stand Up Steffan Alun has a fair few things to say about stepping up to stand up at the Free Fringe. We’ve asked him to write an irregular column for us about the whys and indeed hows of performing comedy in Edinburgh.

I am a standup comedian. Although I’ve been to the Festival before, this year is my first time putting on a show. I am so, so excited.

I love my show. It's nothing too ambitious – my friend Phil Cooper and I are splitting an hour on the Free Fringe in a small venue. I love Phil's act so much, and he's so positive - absolutely perfect company for a month in Edinburgh.

This means we’re protected from many of the stresses facing our more experienced friends – the ones performing solo shows in paid venues. They’re worried about reviews, sales and awards. Phil and I are happy as long as we have an audience.

But there’s one stress I hadn’t considered – the stress of being in the green room.

Normally, I can’t get enough of green rooms. I love getting to a gig early to hang out with other comedians, catching up on gossip and news, chatting about standup and the comedy industry.

In Edinburgh, however, it’s almost impossible not to get too much of a good thing. Four days in, I realise I’ve spent almost all my time with comedians, talking about almost nothing but comedy. Whether it’s preparing for a show, reviewing our own performances, recommending shows we’ve seen, seeing which of our friends have been reviewed ... there’s an infinite amount to talk about.

I reckon a necessary skill to develop as a comedian is the ability to make new friends quickly and efficiently. By the third time you see a comic at a gig, you should be friends already. Otherwise, the job becomes grim and lonely.

But fill a city with potential friends, and that skill becomes a curse. I can already feel my voice going, since I’ve spent 64 of the last 96 hours in conversation.

I understand now why some of my more experienced comedian friends like to go to the cinema or watch telly. Even the time we spend watching shows – we spend laughing. Suddenly, time spent in silence is incredibly valuable.

Since you’re here…

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Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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