The Free Fringe and Free Festival: A beginner's guide

Feature by Lizzie Cass-Maran | 08 Aug 2009

There's this elitist view that if something is free, it's not worth paying for. But the Laughing Horse Free Festival and the PBH Free Fringe are every bit as good as the stuff you pay for. In the same way you can pay £25 for 45 minutes of something that makes you want to eat your own face, you can spend a whole evening for free and enjoy some top class comedy.

So why on earth would brilliant comedians such as Graeme Thomas, Mark Nelson and Ro Campbell not charge? Well, it boils down to the fact that they don't charge because they don't pay. They don't pay the venue (which makes their cut from the extortionate amount of money people spend on alcohol during the Fringe.) They don't have expensive ticketing systems and levies to pay. They just have to work damned hard on putting a good show together. So, my recommendation is to see as much free stuff as you possibly can, observing just two simple rules:

If you enjoyed it, pay into the hat at the end. This means that the good folk get more money and will live to gig another day; genuinely fair pricing for the arts. After all, they do still need to pay for a roof over their heads.

If you’re not enjoying it, don’t decide it’s ok to be rude just because you didn’t pay. Don't wander in and out, talk loudly and heckle meanly; just because you haven't paid is no excuse to ruin what for some people might be an enjoyable performance. One man's Connolly is another man's...Connolly.