"Someone put a lot of bloody big hills in the middle of this city..."
"Someone put a lot of bloody big hills in the middle of this city..."
© Ben Hewis

1. Collaborate

You're doing what? A solo show at the Fringe as your debut? You're relying almost exclusively on your own flyering abilities, while also performing and dealing with the steady stream of admin that's piling up? Are you mad? Yes you are. Reach out as much as you can for feedback, help and a shoulder to cry on (see lesson 6).

2. You're better than you think

Audience numbers aren't what you hoped for? That middle-aged couple haven't given as much of a chuckle throughout your show? There's going to be moments you feel brilliant and moments you feel like the hapless charlatan that you (that is, ‘I') are (that is, ‘am'). Grab hold of the shows that work and the audience members who have the taste and intelligence to laugh and use these memories as an emotional shield against the low points.

3. But you're not that good

Once you've taken the brave step to see other performers, be prepared to have your confidence shattered as you laugh at their oh-so-hilarious jokes. There's some very talented – and much more experienced – people here. That's okay.

Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski
Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski

4. Deodorise your feet

Possibly the best bit of advice I can give. With bedrooms shared and audiences often up close, keeping armpits, hair and other potentially-smelly bits clean and fragrant is a must. But someone put a lot of bloody big hills in the middle of this city and if you're going to keep an audience focused throughout your show – and your flatmates from bad mouthing you behind your back – you're going to have to invest in some foot deodorant. Trust me.

5. The public aren't evil

Just because someone happens to be the 721st person to refuse a flyer from you today doesn't mean they're the spawn of Beelzebub. There might be a caveat to this. Those people who smugly refuse a flyer saying "we've booked all our tickets already" could be evil, because they're either lying and don't have the strength of character to say a polite "no thank you" or they actually have booked all their shows before arriving and are therefore coming to one of the most diverse and interesting cultural events on the planet armed with an inflexible agenda and a reliance on their own preconceptions. That is quite evil.

6. Prepare to cry

Someone doesn't laugh at the best bit of your show? Another prop has broken on stage? You haven't been able to have a clear non-Edinburgh-related thought for 10 days? It's alright, cry yourself to sleep – everyone else is doing it. In fact, even when someone comes up to you at the end of a show to thank you and praise your work, your first impulse will also be to cry. Don't worry.

7. Eat

Flyer, flyer, flyer, perform, cry, flyer, drink, cry some more, collapse. Can you see what's missing here?

8. Sleep

If eating doesn't cure the shivers, emotional outpourings or general signs of madness you're exhibiting it might be time to have a little shut eye. When sleep beckons, embrace it – you're going to have to go through the whole damn thing tomorrow.

9. Use all opportunities to plug your show

Finally, whenever you can, plug your show. Something like: "Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski's debut comedy Rights and Responsibilities (or How a Horse Was Tried for Murder) is on at 13.20 at the Caves everyday until 28 August (not 15)."

For all our festival coverage, click here to head to our Edinburgh page