Postby Abi Roberts » 01 Sep 2015, 23:50



I love the Voodoo Rooms. It is my favourite Edinburgh venue by a country mile. Sumptuously decorated, professional set-up, a fantastic great booze and food menu, committed and enthusiastic venue staff and chock full of quality shows… everything a performer could want for a Fringe run.

This is my second time with PBH at the Voodoo Rooms and it was by far the most successful Fringe run I have ever undertaken – as a singer/cabaret performer or as a stand-up. We filled the room to capacity every day, with up to 110 people, barring one day (Black Wednesday) when we “only” had 87 in! During the run, we played to well over 2700 people, many who came back to see the show again and quite a number who had seen last years’ WIP show and came to see the finished show. On average we had to turn away 20-30 people every day who could not get into the show and we sent a fair few away to see other FF shows both in the VR and other PBH venues, but we encouraged people via our email database, Twitter and Facebook, to come early, plonk themselves in the bar and have something to eat and drink before the show, which also helped manage queues. We also had our own FOH person who helped the venue staff with numbers, queue management for ours and other shows and who assisted in getting people seated/into ours and other rooms quickly.

My sincere thanks to Brendan Denahy, Ewan McNaught, Alistair and the bar crew, Aidan Goatley, Luke Meredith, Paul B. Edwards and PBH colleagues for their commitment, help and support during the run. Long live the Free Fringe!

I would love to come back next year to the Voodoo Rooms if you’ll have me!

Show Time

My show was at 4.15pm in the Speakeasy and this was a perfect time slot as my show has lots of adult themes. The new system of staggered shows was massively helpful in managing the numbers of people coming to one of the most popular Free Fringe venues. Our neighbour Anna Morris’s show was also extremely popular and the venue staff were brilliant in making sure the punters were organised and ready to go to each show at the right times. Staggering the time slots differently was definitely a very good idea and in my opinion was one of the major contributors to a successful run for everyone.


This is my second show with PBH at the Speakeasy and it was a total joy. The room holds around 85 seated on the flat, with room for another 5 or so standing plus 8 or so seats at the back of the room.

The bar crew and venue staff were always fantastic, always on hand to assist if needed and we used the venue’s in-house tech Jedh, who was so good, I ended up incorporating him into the show. He was always on the money with cues and nothing was too much hassle. I’d definitely recommend him to anyone needing a fantastic tech person.

Room – the room is perfect for “pure” stand-up shows as it is just like a major comedy club, with theatre-style seating with booths too and room at the back for standing customers. The room is totally dark and intimate, which makes for a great room to play to for a stand-up like myself.

It’s a real bonus having a bar in there too and it allowed the audience to get refills and added to my ability to riff with the audience during the crowd work bits of my show. We asked a number of the audience members about the venue and the remarks were that the bar was very reasonably priced, the food good and that they would return again next year.

Stage/Lights/Sound – the stage is perfect for stand-up – I can see the audience and the lighting state is from the side, so there is no light glare into my eyes onstage. I also had the ability to bring up lights from the desk during the bits in the show where I needed the audience lit. The room has the audience in the dark, low ceilings and a flat low stage – again, perfect for stand-up. The stage itself is long and wide (but low), which allowed me to access all parts of the audience and to talk to the first two or three rows.

Aircon – this is a MASSIVE bonus to have. Especially on the really hot days and even more so as we had full houses…in fact, I’d go so far as to say it was a blessing!

Bar - again, a real bonus to have a crewed bar in the room. At busy times, the upstairs bar was full, so punters were able to order both drinks and food and have it delivered into the room.

Tech – I needed one mic onstage, one off stage (which Jhed used to call me onstage), plus a DI box for the last section of the show. It all worked perfectly – perfect sound, perfect lights, perfect tech.


Flyering – Aside from flyers on the tables and posters in the venue, we had three flyerers (plus a FOH person who assisted in flyering on the quieter days, usually midweek), who were positioned in strategic points around the venue and occasionally, on the Mound. Our FOH person managed the queues outside the venue with Alistair and made sure the WBBs were given out to the public and the assembled queuers.

On days when we had to turn people away, I had our flyerers talk people through other shows at the VR and each flyerer was instructed to tell people to come back the following day around 3pm and get in the queues early as all the shows in the venue were proving popular. What REALLY worked well was telling people via our email database, Twitter and Facebook accounts, to come VERY early. Some were arriving for ours and other shows at 2.30pm…such was the popularity of the shows there.

Buckets/Audiences: as you can imagine, our bucket take was very good throughout the run and it made no difference whether it was a weekend or a weekday. Coins were few and far between, with notes being the most common form of bucket donation. Our foreign coin count was also very low: 10 US cents, 2 Centimes, 5 euros and for some bizarre reason, three pfennigs. And a packet of Wine gums.

Publicity: I did not employ a publicist/PR, I had no big poster campaign or agent support, no press campaign and I did very few pre-run interviews, so the success of the run was due almost entirely to the reputation of the PBH Free Fringe, word of mouth about the show, return customers and a small well-briefed/trained flyer crew.

I also used my 3000-odd Twitter followers, Facebook Comedian page and my email database to send out regular updates, pictures, video and posts to promote the show, even on the last few days.


We didn’t realise there was storage at the venue until mid-run, so we often had to bring flyers with us each day and pop the box outside the door, but once we had some storage, things got easier!

Colleagues shows

The Voodoo Rooms is a venue of choice for audiences, with different types of quality shows in every room, all day, with huge audience awareness of it as a PBH venue. Once again, I was extremely lucky to have supportive, friendly and helpful shows alongside me – Jess Fostekew, Anna Morris, Aidan Goatley, Al Lubel, David Mills et al - we helped each other when we needed help to resolve any problems and worked together as a solid crew to make the whole Fringe run a success for each other. This is how it should always be done and I hope I am able to work alongside the same guys next year!


A perfect run. We all worked together, the room was full every day and everyone helped each other and supported each others’ success. You can’t ask more from a run really!
Abi Roberts
Posts: 3
Joined: January 2015

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