download: Twinge the night away

Tweet the Fringe

Article by Alex Cole | 28 Aug 2009

The party was set, the act booked, and while the first few jokes came fast and furious, no one heard a thing. Even worse, the crowd was heckling back, though, thankfully, the comics never heard them either.

“#twingeparty Yesterday played French cricket, which is like normal cricket but with tongues,” Tweeted one of the Gimps, a comedy act booked for the Twinge Party at Appleton Tower this past August 14th. Fringe performers, staff, and curious onlookers all gathered for a night of drinking, eating, comedy acts, and, of course, relentless messages on the wall courtesy of Twitter. Early ticket buyers had to register a Twitter name (which led me to reluctantly sign up for the microblogging site for the first time), and throughout the night, anyone could jump on to one of the many computers available and Tweet whatever they pleased – jokes, running commentary, and especially complaints about the bar closing early.

Projectors set up around the room displayed any Tweets including the hashed tag #twingeparty. While new technology ventures are no stranger to the Fringe, this event had the unique distinction of being able to experience it without ever attending. A competition for best joke scrolled down one wall, but anyone could search by that hash code and read all the entries, along with who was performing, who was Tweeting next to them, and a very silent, very tech-savvy auction. The show was hosted by Infomatics Ventures, a Scottish IT promotional organization.

In what was thought to be the first live Twitter comedy show in the UK, four Fringe acts brought a short set and a lot of patience as their crowd divided attention between what was on the wall, and what was right in front of them. The Oxford Imps even worked it into their improv set, riffing on what was in the Twitter feed rather than audience suggestions. For all its bleeding-edge technical integration, however, the party definitely had a distracted air, as though all the attendees were trying to be in two places at once. The very principle of it meant that it might be more interesting to follow online than actually being in the room.

Still, that didn’t stop me from throwing in a few riffs of my own. Check the one about American beer and a canoe – I got a whole sketch based around it, so it couldn’t be all bad.