The other way to go is simply to live on your instincts. An overheard recommendation between friends in a bar or coffee shop, a chance flier shoved into your hand or catching a snippet of a show acted out on the pavement and seeking out the full version because you were stopped in your tracks by what you saw.
I was not a 'natural beauty' per se. Ahem. I was... gawky. I had pointy teeth at the front. I was whooping cough skinny. I had a big nose for my age. It's a shame it doesn't work for noses the same way it works for IQs. "My daughter has such a big IQ for her age." "Well my daughter has an enormous nose!" *awkward slow nodding.*
So here I am, on the great man's birthday, on an incredibly mild January night at the Jermyn Street Theatre, sitting next to a young actress, recently graduated from drama school (and I didn't even have to slip the box office lady any notes), and I in my late thirties, feeling all Trigorin with my projected gravestone reading: "not as good as Michael Billington."
With this guide we have tried to approach a visit to Edinburgh with a more honest view of what it's like to visit the city as a festival-goer, or a comedian. It's true that the Royal Mile is a cacophony of fun, and also as Jeff Leach puts it, a 'Gauntlet of Broken Dreams' which has to be navigated by many acts on a daily basis.
Chronically underfunded, defiantly commercial or both, the inherent fragility of fringe festivals has also become their greatest strength. Everyone mucks in and makes do, building a resilience that defies sound logic. As Britain languishes in the doldrums, Brighton Fringe saw ticket sales grow by more than 30% in one year. And it's surely not alone.
Jonathan is also half of comedy duo Teakshow. But, as well as the comedy streak running through him there is an entrepreneurial streak.
It's been two weeks since my exhausting 24-show run at Edinburgh Fringe Festival ended and I have thrown myself right back into my day job. My days at the moment seem to be spent working and sleeping, though I am able to fit in the occasional meal or two. My body still feels weighted down by the heavy jetlag and inevitable performance come down
Every year for about a month, London gets a lot less funny. Vast swathes of the nation's favourite comedians all flock up to Edinburgh for the month of August. However, a few valiantly stay behind to participate in the ever growing Camden Fringe and one man gallantly at the forefront of this years fringe is James Mullinger.
Well the excitement is building as the big event is now only a matter of days away. And despite organisational chaos, worries about the cost and the weather, the participants are ready for the off, having spent months, if not years in meticulous preparation. No, I'm not talking about the Olympics, but the annual comedy trade fair/booze up that is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
It's strange that for centuries we've happily paid for other humans to exert their bodies for our pleasure, whether it be a postman, a waiter, a boxer or comedian, whatever. We've also a long, long history of having sex for pleasure. Is bringing those two things together and paying for sex such a bad thing?