Show some love to the flyerers...

Heath Franklin – aka Chopper – on the unsung heroes of the Fringe

So the Edinburgh Fringe is on again, which means whole forests of trees are being pulped and turned into glossy A5 flyers for shows like mine. Right now someone may be reading this and is getting ready to start an online campaign to stop flyers and flyering forever. They will be sweating indignantly into their Crocs sandals, overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility like they have just become the world’s only tree with internet access and a Facebook account.

To you I say chill the fuck out. You can read news on your iPad so go whine about trees being logged for crappy newspapers, in fact whine about that book the Kardashians put out.

I digress. I was saying we've all had an afternoon completely destroyed by some wide-eyed young obstacle with a flyer in their hand for something that we are clearly too busy to see. But now I am hoping to show you what it's like to be on the other side of the flyer.

Firstly, when a flyerer goes home they don't go home to a palatial apartment with slaves that wave palm fronds, a gilded albino tiger and a dim sum chef on call. Chances are they are going home to sleep in the sock drawer of a crowded apartment.

I can also assure you they don't want to be there. It's not a conspiracy to slow your pedestrian activity, or some masochistic anthropological experiment on how many smug comments they can illicit from strangers. Whether they are flyering their own show or being paid two-fifths of a bees dick to flyer someone else's show I can assure you that if they could, they would bin every goddamn flyer and run away skipping like they've just been released from Fritzel's basement.

I would rather push the entire contents of this room (three couches, a coffee table, a flat screen, a lamp, a spiky pot plant and my friend Chris) into my nasal cavity than flyer ever again, but unfortunately it is a massive part of getting audiences to festival shows. Most of us get to walk past fuckwits, people with flyers meet every single one of them.

They are just hoping to give you a chance to see a show you might want to see, and if you try and score easy points from someone flyering shows you are pretty much a sack of fuck with a dick at the end of your neck.

You know when someone pretends to throw a ball for a dog but they don't let go and the dog rushes off to fetch it anyway? You know the stupid look of satisfaction on their face because they have outsmarted a dog? Wow, a member of the species that put a rover on Mars outsmarted the species that sniffs dicks as a greeting. That's what you look like when you try and be 'clever' to a flyerer.

They want to tell you to get fucked, they should tell you to get fucked but they aren't allowed to. The customer is always right, even when the customer is a pissy alpha male who likes to think they can look awesome in front of their friends by outsmarting a 19-year-old girl who isn't allowed to fight back. It's the social equivalent of fighting a toddler, easy won and nothing to be proud of.

When someone offers you a flyer it's actually really, really easy to say 'awesome, thank you' have a look and keep walking. Or if you are looking for a show (and you're at one of the world’s largest arts festivals, so it’s a fair assumption you might be) use the fact that you are a fully grown human person to engage them and find out more.

Everyone worries about carbon footprints, but please also consider the karma footprint. Sure you may walk away with several pieces of paper, a devastatingly confusing and emotionally draining situation to be in I know, but if you get an anxiety attack just put them on a table somewhere so that someone else might see them.

So next time you are out at the Fringe, or anywhere, remember that flyering is the most vulnerable, humiliating, powerless and soul destroying way to spend an afternoon and if you act like a dick to these people you may be heavily featured in their suicide note.

  • Heath Franklin's Chopper in A Hard Bastard's Guide to Life is on at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, at 20:50; then will be at the Priceless Wonderland in London from August 20 to 24.

Published: 9 Aug 2012

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