I’m taking Between Us to Edinburgh Fringe for the first time this year, so I wanted to hear from other seasoned improvisers about their Edinburgh experiences. I caught up with Michael Joseph Brown, who’s not only a seasoned Edinburgh improvisor, but also happens to be the box office supervisor for our venue!
Rachel: We’re so thrilled to have a friendly face working at TheSpace! Can you give us some insider tips?
Mike: Absolutely the best thing to do is to talk to the staff in your venue. They are the first people you meet at your fringe, and the first point of contact for audiences looking for show recommendations. If you are really nice to box office and techies you might find you have more audiences and people on your side if things get tough.
Rachel: Noted! How tough can things get in your experience?
Mike: Watching friends bring their shows to Edinburgh, knowing that the show is great as well, and then watching them struggle with the festival is heartbreaking, but that’s where supporting each other really comes into its own. Just remember it’s the largest arts festival in the world and that you’re not alone, so talk to other performers. Trust me – they are not hard to find!
Rachel: Tell us about how you started performing improv at the Fringe.
Mike: I’ve guest performed for several different shows over the years. The great thing about the festival is that opportunities are just created out of nowhere. My first ever fringe experience was with Tom and Allan of The Same Faces in a short form improv jam in the basement of a Chiquitos. That quickly turned into a surprise gig an hour later in a packed-out Irish bar. I remember having to fight my way through the crowd to get to the stage, thinking, “Oh crap! Here we go!” Looking at the hordes of scary fringe tourists who’d been binging comedy all week! We had so much fun and must have impressed some other people with that jam as we were asked to form an improv team with one other improviser and opened for the Nursery’s main show that night, a few hours later. That was my first ever fringe day. One gig turned into three, we met some amazing people and started in the basement of a Mexican restaurant and ended the day opening for one of the biggest improv establishments in the UK!
Rachel: And why do you keep coming back to Edinburgh?
Mike: There is a unique energy that engulfs the city. When the festival is in town it’s a chaotic pilgrimage of artists and audiences alike, all there for one thing. But no one knows what that thing is!
Rachel What’s been your Edinburgh highlight?
Mike: I watched 14 shows back to back in one day (I’m hoping to top that this year) and the sheer randomness and being completely unprepared for what I’m about to experience is like nothing else. I laughed, cried, yawned, was weirded out and made some truly great friends, as well as having serious ammunition as a box office member to give show recommendations too! Binge the fringe!
Rachel: How do you prepare when you’re performing in an Edinburgh improv show?
Mike: I’m the kind of performer that prefers to get into my own headspace before a gig so mini meditation helps. Just clearing your mind from the chaos and then going big or going home! Just keep the brain healthy and ready to react to stimuli at all times of the gig.
Rachel And where can we see your healthy brain performing this year?
Mike: If you’re looking for a guest improviser then feel free to stalk me on social media!