The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is well and truly up and running now. The Royal Mile is a no-go area for anyone who doesn't want to be chugged by interpretive dancers, everyone's got a throat infection and we've all had at least one very late night drinking session with the Othello The Remix guys.
It's round-about this point we can start to see who the big success stories are of this year's fringe. Who's always on that board, who has a buzz around them, who should I have been to see on my pass last week, instead of watching the Olympics. In short who has 'won' the festival.
And I don't mean who's won the comedy prize, or one of the theatre or musical theatre prizes, I mean who is the one who arrived moderately famous and leaves at the front of everyone's mind. Previous years' winners include Rhod Gilbert, Flight of the Conchords and of course, Michael McIntyre.
But how do you judge this year's winner? Being a festival hit is something that is hard to quantify. Well, OK, so you can make your money back; that's a definite indicator of success. But for most of us we have to aim at something a little more achievable.
For acts in a Pleasance venue (like us), a key performance indicator is getting on the board. The board is reserved for shows that sell out with enough time left before their start times to bother writing them up there. Once people see your name - up in multicoloured chalk - they know you've made it.
It's also important to watch out for flocks of disappointed pass holders. Anyone with a lanyard who is walking sullenly away from the door of a venue is a clear sign that people want to see this show (not enough to pay for it, of course): the amount of their sadness directly correlates to how much they wanted to see that show. A wailing, sobbing crowd of lanyardeers (that's definitely what they're called) means a sure-fire hit.
But the real sign of a winning show is when you actually see these lanyardists standing in the queue with other ticket holders. This act has done so much to win the festival that people who aren't really getting paid any money this month are willing to shell out up to £12.50 to see them. These people are the real winners.
Apart from, of course, those acts who have no pedigree at all, they may not ever have done a show at the fringe before, but have invested basically everything they have, have taken a month out of their lives, are flyering for at least an hour a day on the Mile and are playing, for free, in a sweaty room over a pub, subsisting on the change they can collect from a bucket. When you see a good show from one of these acts it really makes the rest of us look second best. Without wishing to sound schmaltzy, the real festival is taking place in these rooms, and that's where the winners and losers are being decided. The rest of us will have to settle for second place.
Barbershopera: The Three Musketeers - Pleasance Courtyard @ 23.05