Noser vs. Edinburgh Fringe

Noser Fringe poster.jpg

This August, I went to Edinburgh Fringe to perform Noser: The Startup Musical. It's a musical I co-wrote with my friend, Lily. We debuted it at Camden Fringe 2018, but this time we were aiming higher. (Edinburgh is much further north than Camden.)

So, how was it? Well, it was hard work, like everyone said it would be. There are 3,500 shows vying for people's attention at the Fringe. The average audience size is... 6.

We did our best to drum up attention with superlative flyers (thanks, Matt), an app (thanks, Josh and Rich) and 3D-printed key rings (thanks, Nat and Duncan).

We partnered with an Edinburgh perfumer to make our show smell great (thanks, Jorum Studio). We performed two showcases on the Royal Mile (one was cancelled due to high winds). We put half price tickets in the box office. We flyered (a lot).

I dressed up like (the ghost of) Steve Jobs, forcing my head inside what was basically a large condom—minus the lubrication. We schmoozed a local co-working space (here's an interview). We wore matching t-shirts, like real Shoreditch startup people.

Did it work? Did we go #viral? Um, no. At our lowest point, we had an audience of one. But we had some busier days, too. Every show was fun because we had an incredible cast of lovely people. And we started and ended each performance with a Celine Dion banger on the stereo. Celine makes everything better.

But what about the reviews? Well we started strong with a one-star review from Musical Theatre Musings. And we picked up this pleasant three-star mini review, which praised the cast ("tireless") and my songs ("catchy"). We also did an interview with Fringe Review.

Was it fun? Yes! Once I got used to the fact that our reception was likely to be underwhelming—much like all my other creative projects—I relaxed into the process. Annabel and I explored the city with Hyko. We drank lots of beer. I ate some haggis.

We took a day trip to Portobello. Hyko ran around the beach. I found the best bookshop of all time. Edinburgh shot to the top of our 'dream cities to live in one day' list and Annabel looked up house prices.

Would I do it again? Probably—but I'd do something much smaller. Putting on an amateur production with seven people is... challenging. Lily and I drove ourselves potty, trying to wrangle seven people's diaries with countless Doodle polls and one large spreadsheet.

I had stress headaches in the lead-up to the festival where it felt like my brain was trying to burst out of my skull. There were times when I was tempted to cancel everything. We lost quite a lot of money.

But now that it's over, I'm so proud of what we achieved. We did it. We performed a show at Edinburgh Fringe. And despite some shoddy reviews, I still think the show is excellent. I love it.

When I first came to Lily with the idea of writing a musical, I had no idea it could ever be this good. I knew Lily was funny, but her script was incredible. I can't believe we found such talented people, willing to invest their time and energy in the show.

So thanks to Ash, Beth, Josh, Kate, Lara, Lisa, Luisa, Nat, Scott, Thom and Tom for bringing this dream to life. And thanks most of all to Lily. It's an honour to have worked on this with you. You're destined for comedy greatness!

RIP, Noser. It's been a blast.


Here’s another blog I wrote about Noser in July 2018.

Luke LeighfieldnoserComment