As it’s now June the Edinburgh Preview season is upon us and the Edinburgh Fringe itself is fast approaching; naturally my thoughts turned to this particularly non-lucrative element of my work, as do the entire (comedy) world’s. So here it is, the blog that absolutely no-one has been clamouring for. The techie’s inside guide to getting the best out of your techie this Fringe.
First, some quick do’s and don’ts:
– Do buy your techie a drink. This is a good way to make them like you. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, it can be a coffee, a coke or a stiff whiskey. This is also a good way to judge your techie. One who refuses alcohol pre-show is more likely to be taking their work a little more seriously.
– Do be upfront about money. You’re both going to be broke and embarrassed about it, that’s the way these things work. £10 is a reasonable amount to offer for a fringe show, but if you can afford more you’re likely to be a popular person on the (tech) circuit. It is acceptable to offer less if you’ve only got 2 sound cues too.
– Don’t worry about bonuses. Techie’s work to the same standards of professionalism regardless, it’s not like a flyerer who has lost their spark mid month and needs a boost to make them get out there in the rain. That said, if you get to the end and decide that you would like to offer a bonus, then do. Everyone likes an unexpected surprise, and if you’re already broke money is a nice surprise. Sweets, cake or booze are also acceptable.
– Don’t be a dick. This person can easily make or break your show. Be at least civil and they’ll be more inclined to turn up promptly and do their job to the best of their abilities. This also goes for mistakes, they do happen; being angry doesn’t help. Most audiences will accept this.
– Do socialise a little with your techie. You don’t have to hang out with them every night, although if you’re getting on well then that’s cool. It’s nice to feel like a fellow human; invite them out to a drink. If you can get into somewhere fancy take them there, make them feel special. Obviously not everyone clicks, but lots of techies and their performers become friends, or partnerships. A techie who feels appreciated is more likely to help you out in a pinch, work for little or no money, and generally help you out.
– Don’t use your ipod for the music cues. Really, for the love of all that is holy please don’t. It’s just about useable for intro and outro music, and it might do the job when you’re gigging normally, but if you’re wanting any kind of nuance it’s really not that hard to pop the tracks onto a blank CD, or email them over before so your techie can do that. It saves missed cues or a sweaty finger leading to an incorrect or incomplete cue. That said, any ipod with a click wheel is okay ish, it’s the touch screen bastards that are problematic.
– Do just let them help you. If your techie is happy to cart things around and fetch a glass of water from the bar so you can have a last minute run through in your head; then say thank you and enjoy the extra few minutes this gets you. Techie’s may be highly skilled professionals but they also spend most of their lives carting PA systems and cases around the place. If there’s something they can’t do they’ll ask for help. Trust in that. I personally have ambled around Fitzrovia with a P.A. balanced on my hip.
And now for some general advice:
– If possible, try to have some a script or cue list ready. I don’t care if it’s “really easy” I want the cue written on a piece of paper, I don’t care if it’s on the back of my hand. A pre-prepared script is a wonderful thing. Even if you don’t necessarily stick to it, it will allow your techie to roughly follow where in the show you are and prepare for a cue. This leads to a slicker performance and no sudden blast of music because you’ve hit a cue when they weren’t ready.
– Some performers like to buy their techie a present to say thanks at the end of a long hard Edinburgh slog. If you’re good at gauging people, or at presents, well done! If not, the following are some ideas. Booze probably won’t go amiss, a nice bottle of wine can always be regifted to a friend, thus saving the techie valuable money. Alternately, a new sharpie/roll of tape (gaffer, electrical or masking) is a thoughtful little nod. Why not make them a mix tape of house music? Also handy!
– Your techie may become injured, try not to worry. Most techie’s are used to the injuries that come along with the job. Sprained wrists, broken toes and bruised calves are normal. Your techie will probably continue to work, perhaps with a limp or only using one hand, until such time as they are able to assess the damage. Do not worry. This is normal. You may see your techie repair themselves with tape. This is also normal. Gaffertape makes an excellent stand in brace if in a hurry. If your techie shows you how one of your prop boxes has caused little bruises that look like track marks on their arms, do not be alarmed. Techies like to trade injury stories. They are merely showing you this part of techie culture.
By following these guide lines, you should find yourself with a techie who is reasonably friendly and enjoyable to work with. You may also receive cake; and make a new friend.