With the Heroes set of venues Bob Slayer as emerged as one of the leading lights helping to reshape comedy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the past few years, helping to make things fairer for both artists and audiences.
His Pay What You Want model has been something of a revolution, bridging the gap between the often overpriced shows at the Big Four and the sometimes amateurish nature of free Fringe performances and venues. And it’s no surprise the model is now being used by several other promoters this year.
Bob’s up again in 2016 with a host of great acts at Heroes’ flagship venue The Hive, as well as the magnificent BlundaBus (a double decker bus that also serves as a bar and show venue) and new venue the Dragonfly on the Grassmarket. Not only that, Bob’s also doing 24 different hours over the course of the month! A busy and insane man.
Hello. How are you today?
I’m very excited to be alive and also at liberty. On July 4th I will have owned a 10 ton double decker bus for a whole year, its really something to celebrate that I haven’t killed myself yet (or anyone else)
Are you ready for another month of Edinburgh Fringe action?
I’m currently sat in my bus, in the the sun, in Gorebridge just outside Edinburgh. I am full of Fringe anticipation and cider… I am ready! I am the safe option!!
As head of Heroes you’ve inspired a new way for acts to actually make some money at the Fringe by using the pay what you want format. How do you feel the model has made things better for audiences and performers?
The Fringe is a beautiful balance between creativity and commercialism, which every now and then needs a really firm kick in its knackers to stop it falling over.
What are your thoughts on other promoters that have taken up the model?
Horrah! The more the merrier. I’m very proud of the success of PWYW for acts and how many established promoters are adopting the model.. It’s part of a wider movement to put creativity first… So any commercial operation with their grubby fingers in the performers buckets (tip jar) is still fair game for a running hoof in the plums.
I hear Heroes venue The Hive has had a bit of a facelift. Will we be able to walk across the floor without our shoes getting stuck?
Your shoes were not stuck they were just clinging on wanting to stay in the venue with the best line up at the Fringe! They will be even keener to stay this year. The line up is immense..
Heroes is hosting a tonne of great shows as usual, but you’re also coming up as a performer. What can we expect from your own shows?
Thank you. Its blummin nice of you to notice. I only created Heroes to have the right space to play in. I took last years show Fat Jockey on tour around Europe. I’ve also been driving around Europe in my BlundaBus looking for a damn good story for the Fringe. I didn’t find one. I found 24 of the buggers. I’m doing a different storytelling show every night. AKA Bob Slayer: 24 hour shows. On my bus. Next to Potterrow Underpass. 10:45pm.
You’re also bringing up the double-decker bus again. Is everything in working order?
We have had some teething problems but she is flying at the moment. The other day Brenda (BlundaBus) and I pulled up at some traffic lights in the suburbs of Edinburgh. She stopped and wouldn’t start again.
There was a warning light on the dash I didn’t recognise. These sort of things usually mean the emergency exit door or something is open. I opened and slammed all doors. I checked the wheelchair ramp. Nothing. I disconnected and reconnected the battery to reset. Nothing. I even removed the fuse to disconnect the dash with the flashing light on it and still she wouldn’t start. I may have sworn at her… Arghhh… on top of this my mobile was out of juice. Double arghhh. I was in a proper pickle and stranded at a really awkward junction.
Then a man came by on his bike grinning at me. It was my friend Chris who used to be festival manager at Leicester Comedy Festival who just happened to be cycling by. How could he help? After sadly discovering he wasn’t a bus mechanic, we agreed he would stay with Brenda while I nipped off to charge my phone.
I ran around the bus to get my phone charger from my bag that was just inside the emergency door. That was when I noticed an engine flap had worked itself open. So I closed that. Had another try. And vroom vroomm she started straight away. Horrah!
I then had to wait for the air pressure to build up again so I chatted to Chris. He told me his job as events manager at Dunfirmline council was going well. In fact they had just got the budget for two big events. And then he booked Brenda and I for both of them!
I think Brenda knew all about this. When I was shouting at her to start. She was saying “No we have to wait here because a man is coming. A man who wants to book us in for some fun!”
Brenda really is like a real life Herbie. Let’s go bananas!
What are your tips for getting people to see your show?
Have an amazing show. Or 24 amazing shows? Oh and get a bus?!
Any shows you’re particularly excited about seeing?
All of the Heroes shows. And all of mine. Oh yes, as well as 24 hour shows I’m also doing a handful of kids shows on the bus. And a half run of Comedyopoly. And will be conducting the best late night aftershow mayhem on a bus at midnight in Edinburgh (With a piano).
Other than the great shows, what else are you looking forward to about your trip to Edinburgh this year?
Every year I make a bunch of lovely new friends. Last year included Tony the bus driver who will be serving pies and other wonderful food next to the bus this year, a very hairy and kind man called Broome and the brilliantly funny Mat Ewins who will be performing in the Hive. I wonder who it will be this year?
Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it.
I’d just like to say I blummin’ love the Fringe. I know to some who have been involved in it for years, I who first came in 2008, am the upstart Bobby come lately. But you know it’s good to get an outsider to shake things up. So who is going to pick up the fringe baton next and kick me in the dairy lee lunchbox? Come on. I can’t continually kick them myself.
Bob Slayer: 24 Hour Shows
Heroes @ Bob’s Blundabus
4-29 August, 10.45pm
PWYW or £5 to guarantee entry