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Abigail Paul Interview: Tips for producing your first Edinburgh Fringe show

With two years of the Edinburgh Fringe festival under my belt, attending as both a spectator and reviewer, I am fascinated by the behind the scenes of the event and what goes into producing a festival show. Preparing for Fringe involves months of planning, sometimes as early as Autumn/Winter of the previous year and if you are aspiring to take a production to the festival for the first time, it can be a daunting experience. The Fringe society has put together some extremely helpful guides and articles for first timers, but I thought it would be interesting to hear from a performer first hand, who went through the experience last year. A side of the festival that spectators don’t often find out about, I was keen to hear about what it’s like in both the months leading up to the festival and on the ground during the month of August.

Abigail Paul Interview: Tips for producing your first Edinburgh Fringe show

When thinking about who to interview for this piece, I instantly thought of comedian Abigail Paul, who received a glowing 4-star review from me in 2023 for her first solo show ‘Involuntary Momslaughter’. It combined “storytelling, standup and theatre”, with Abigail sharing her complex upbringing with the audience and using humour as a method of healing. As an experienced standup comedian, improviser and actress who was nominated for the 2023 Popcorn Award for New Writing at the Fringe, she has performed at many venues across the USA and Europe and brought a breadth of experience to the festival. Abigail kindly agreed to sit down with me for an hour to chat about what goes into producing your first Edinburgh Fringe show and share some tips for anyone planning to take a show to the festival in 2024 and beyond.

Abigail Paul Interview: Tips for producing your first Edinburgh Fringe show

1. Be ahead of the game with your festival planning.

Heading to the festival for the first time in 2022 with the intention of bringing “her life’s work” Involuntary Momslaughter to Edinburgh in the future, Abigail credits this initial scouting mission as helping her to “scout, check out and learn the lay of the land” ahead of her 2023 solo debut. She was coming from a unique perspective as a “really experienced performer” who was also a “complete novice” to the festival.

When it came to choosing accommodation, she didn’t wait for the EdFringe accommodation portal to go live, she utilised the Theatre Digs website and had a positive experience living above the Steamworks Sauna, with her drag queen landlord.

2. Don’t be afraid to do things on your own and ask for help.

Whilst Abigail’s husband helped her with planning in the lead up, she decided to go it alone for the month in Edinburgh. She also found herself not waiting for deadlines and milestones throughout the planning process and asking friends or festival staff if she needed a hand with anything. She describes the teams behind the major Fringe festivals as “extremely approachable” and says it is “okay to ask a lot of questions”.

3. When choosing a venue, follow your heart and don’t just look for prestige points.

Initially Abigail felt that having a “curated venue” was one of the most important parts of choosing where to perform, given its prestige factor. In hindsight however, she believes that you should “follow your heart” and choose a venue that is right for you. Feeling like she wouldn’t fit into a comedy venue given the multiple themes of her show, she was looking for something a little “left of centre” for her festival run. Finally settling on Greenside @ Riddles Court, the venue’s supportive nature throughout the planning process was one of the reasons why she ended up choosing to perform in such a central location.

4. Time slots are so important.

Knowing how “dark and theatrical” Involuntary Momslaughter was, the time slot was incredibly important. She says that this is what she believes “performers value the most” and felt that a start time of 5 – 7pm, would be appropriate given the nature of the material.

Willow Studio programme at Greenside, Edinburgh Fringe

5. Know what your goals are for the festival.

Abigail’s goals were to “get people in the seats and get good reviews”. She says she did better with the latter, noting the BBC Popcorn nomination as a highlight of her festival experience, and with hindsight says that she needed “10 years of experience at the Fringe to make some sort of ticket sales breakthrough”. Selling more tickets was “definitely a pipe dream”, but her dreams really came true when she “got people who really wanted to see [Involuntary Momslaughter] in the seats” and the conversations with members of the audience “were extremely important” to her.

6. Prepare for doing your show to 1 – 5 people.

With comedy, Abigail says that you “really need that feedback” when performing and having the “mindset” that you could be performing to a small audience helps. She experienced a “lull at the 2+ week mark” and in advance of a performance, would sometimes only have about 2 bookings. More would “show up at the door” though and she found herself breathing a sigh of relief “as the line got bigger” outside her venue.

Poster for Abigail Paul: Involuntary Momslaughter on the Royal Mile

7. Know what you want to do next.

Abigail attributes this piece of advice for helping her adjust, after returning home from the “adrenaline-filled experience”, which was 8 months in the planning. It felt like she had been “shot out of a cannon” and was on a “ride” from January to the end of August. She found herself “crashing” after she got home to Germany and was grateful to festival support systems for helping her get back to reality, including a one-woman solo storytelling group on Facebook, where she could chat to other performers who felt the same way.

What’s next for Abigail Paul?

Whilst Abigail says that Involuntary Momslaughter is “not done”, she is parking the show for now and “going for the enjoyment factor” with a work-in-progress standup piece ‘Miss Communication’. She will be at Brighton Fringe in May and is looking forward to just “performing again”, as there is so much involved with creating your own show, from “writing press releases” to “building an audience”. This time around she is “building from a place of strength” though, after completing her first solo show and compares moving from Involuntary Momslaughter to Miss Communication as “night and day”.

Poster for Abigail Paul: Miss Communication at Brighton Fringe

What can audiences expect?

Wanda Sykes and Katherine Ryan are Abigail’s favourite comedians and she is hoping that there will be a similar “high rate of laughter” with her new show, as well as room to “challenge assumptions and points of view… especially about women”. She has found that she has a “shock factor when she speaks” as a result of her unique upbringing and audiences can expect jokes about her life experiences and “skewed version of normal”.

Miss Communication at Brighton Fringe

You can catch Miss Communication at the Brighton Fringe from Wednesday 22nd – Saturday 25th May. Abigail will be performing at 9:15pm at The Caxton Arms venue across these dates, with tickets available via the festival website. I am hoping to see her perform in May, as I find her absolutely hilarious.

Quotes from the press about Abigail Paul's comedy

It was a joy to speak with Abigail for this piece and I hope these tips for producing your first Edinburgh Fringe show are helpful to fellow artists. Roll on the festival in August!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx



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