Two years ago in my debut Edinburgh show I played a gig to just two women and Roy Chubby Brownís agent. That was a strange night. Should I be misogynist? Of course I was Ė always play to the industry. Iím joking. I think.
Caimh McDonnellís idea is to pay for reviews Ė and more mentions like this and itís paying for itself. Iím also paying people to come to my shows this year, but Iím paying everyone. Iím paying £1 to each audience member who comes to see my stand-up show ĎFree Poundí and 50p for people to watch my documentary film I Am Orig about a year giving my own money away.
Why am I doing it? Am I desperate for audience? Yep (see above). Desperate for press and attention? Why do people send in Chortle articles FFS?
But theyíre not the biggest reasons. Is it for the audience, press and industry, or for the idea itself?
Both shows are about money and generosity so giving away money in them was a natural fit. For the film, Iíve spent a year giving away my own money Ė on the streets and at gigs. I havenít given out huge amounts: 50 pence pieces and pounds... but I did give someone £50.
Iím not rich and need the money Ė†to pay for Edinburgh for one thing, PR is expensive! As are Edinburgh escorts, despite the discount being offered via the agency sponsoring Chris Dangerfieldís show (another good publicity stunt see?).
But giving away money has proved to be as addictive as discounted escort girls. Iím a gambler so maybe that helps, but I have got a buzz out of peopleís responses as Iíve splashed the cash. These have raged from delight to disgust.
My favourite reaction which I got a few times: ĎHow dare you just give money away?! You should give it to charity!í
ĎIf you take it, you could give it to charity.í
ĎÖThatís not the point!í
Iíve had the help of the fantastic Barnaby Slater to give away my money for me, and as I watched him hand out my babyís nappy cash I giggled with excitement like a little girl watching Chubby Brown. But thatís not the real reason Iím giving away money.
I thought the idea would get some press and it already has in a few national newspapers, so that bodes well to stand out from the Edinburgh crowd without having to resort to wandering around the Mile on a daily basis with a massive foam penis on my head.
Iíd like reviewers and industry to come to watch but I genuinely only want them there if it helps me reach out to my audience, which is why I do stand-up isnít it?
Of course a good review (ĎCould be amongst the most astonishing, tear-inducing sights at the Fringeí Jay Richardson 2011) is better than a bad one (ĎThe most offensive joke is charging peopleí Kate Copstick 2010) but neither affect my mood; itís how they translate to the audience coming the next night thatís important.
So itís not about the press. If I want a good review Iíll pay for it.
So itís all for the audience then? Well obviously I want them to turn up like they didnít do on that night in 2010. Thatís why Iím doing the Free Fringe this year, I want this show to play to as many people as possible. But I donít think all my audience deserve a pound. Some of them will come in for the money and leave straight away. If any stand-ups I actually like come they deserve more than a pound. If Doug Stanhope, Daniel Kitson, Stewart Lee, Glenn Wool or Chris Dangerfield comes Iíll give them £50. Thatís my hooker budget decimated.
That last point is the key to this. There are far more important things to me than press, reviews, industry, even the audience. The respect of stand-ups I like is worth 100 good reviews, even if I have to pay £100 for them to come.
But thereís something else driving me forward, making me give my money away. And thatís someone I loved, who saved his whole life for a day that never came. Iím not telling you the whole story here, as I want you to come to my shows. Why do you think Iíve written this article FFS? Money? Grow up. I spit on your money.
As one of the Occupy protesters said at St Paulís as we tried to give them money, ĎMoney doesnít existí. If I win the prize for best article of the month Iíll give the £75 to charity. Now thereís a bribe...
- Nathan is raising money for charity at justgiving.com/freepound. Text ORIG99 1 to 70070 to donate £1 to the Alzheimerís Society.