I’m Not Doing Fringe. Hang On, I’m Doing It: How I Took My Hypnosis Show to Edinburgh Fringe and Had the Time of My Life

Hey there, fellow Fringe-curious! You may or may not know me as the anything-but-typical hypnotist behind Hypnotist Matt Hale – Top Fun: 80s Hypnosis Spectacular

I’ve been performing at Fringe fests for years … but not Edinburgh. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard all the wild tales about taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the biggest of the big of all arts festivals. Oh, believe me, I had my doubts too! But let me take you on a rollercoaster ride through all the reasons I wasn’t going to take my show to the Edinburgh Fringe and how, against all odds, I ended up having the time of my life and a wildly successful run (Disclaimer: doesn’t necessarily mean financially successful!).

Reason 1: It Costs HOW Much?!

Ah, the ol’ money talk. The Edinburgh Fringe is notorious for burning a hole through even the deepest of pockets. With all the venue and fest fees, accommodation costs that could make a grown person cry (and has done frequently!), and that’s before you dip into your life savings to afford the cost of street posters and other marketing – it all adds up quicker than you can say “nope.” For seven years after an exploratory visit, I thought, “No way can I make this work.”  So never attempted.  But then … an unsolicited email while performing at Adelaide Fringe from Gilded Balloon with a venue offer, a huge sense of FOMO, a complicated spreadsheet with a worst case scenario, it was either now or never.

Reason 2: A Nobody in a Sea of Somebodies

Picture this: an Aussie hypnotist steps off the train into the bustling streets of Edinburgh, a city already overflowing with talent and performers who’ve been at this game for ages. The odds of making a splash as an unknown entity seemed slimmer than the nutritional value of a deep-fried Mars Bar. Yet, guess what? The Fringe audience is still hungry for fresh acts that defy expectations. With a unique twist on a style of show, I managed to stand out in the crowd and carve out my own niche space in the program.

Reason 3: Venue Spaces That Make You Scratch Your Head

Ah, the whimsical charm of Edinburgh’s venue spaces – some smaller than a phone booth, others located in the most peculiar nooks and crannies you could imagine. A show like mine just can’t be performed in a space that might have once housed a medieval blacksmith’s workshop. But the incredible amount of venues means there’s a wide range of spaces, traditional and non- traditional, that fit all sorts of acts, big and small. And the Big Yin at Gilded Balloon’s Patter Hoose – a 240 seater traditional theatre style room was perfect.

Reason 4: A Show Drop in an Ocean of Shows

“Competition? Nah, mate, that’s not for me.” With over 3,000 shows vying for attention at the Fringe, the idea of standing out felt as daunting as a Highland cow trying to do the Highland Fling. But here’s the twist – the Fringe isn’t a battle of the biggest budgets or the loudest voices. It’s a celebration of creativity, a carnival of curiosities, and a melting pot of artistry. My 80s themed hypno extravaganza managed to find its own tribe of excited attendees amidst the sea of choices, proving that sometimes, a dash of uniqueness, and a lot of hustle behind the scenes can actually make it work!

So, there you have it – all the reasons I had on my laundry list of excuses for not taking my hypnosis show to the Edinburgh Fringe. But what actually happened? Drum roll … I chucked those excuses into the North Sea and took a leap of faith, a leap that has turned into a season of crazy hustle, ridiculous hard work, unforgettable memories … and packed shows!

It wasn’t easy, but I can say with a head full of fantastic recollections that my Edinburgh Fringe experience exceeded my wildest expectations. The audiences buzzed, volunteers on stage danced like nobody was watching, and I felt truly part of the Edinburgh Fringe community.

So, if you’ve got a wild dream, a pocketful of doubts, and a heart full of courage, an intimidating but vaguely enticing spreadsheet, maybe step over the line. Embrace the chaos, dive headfirst into the unknown, and who knows? You might just find yourself finally actually doing Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with the whole city cheering you on.

And as I write this going into the final week, the hustle continues. Please come to my show!

Matt Hale

5pm every night., Patter Hoose, Gilded Balloon.