On the fringe of ‘The Fringe’ with Ishan Ganjoor
Fabulously on the fringe of everything comedy, we caught up with former CA intern from the BBC, Ishan Ganjoor on his experience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year…
In April I applied to the Edinburgh Fringe’s Emerging Producers Development Program, through Creative Access. I should stress, I truly am ‘emerging’, some might even debate that I’m yet to emerge. After gaining a place, I was put in touch with everyone else who would be attending Edinburgh in August and my peers were all very impressive producers. They were all working with artists tackling issues such as feminism, racism and disability-stigma in their work. Whereas your boy Ishan produces a podcast and an improv show, both of which he is in.
This brings us to August 17th, when I arrived in Edinburgh. The fringe was in full flow; as a comedy nerd I hit the ground running seeing a load of shows before the course started. I even managed to see Sophie Duker’s award nominated show Venus!
As a comedian Edinburgh truly is a Mecca. Every comedian and their mum (sometimes doing a show together) are there.
I bumped into people I’d been meaning to see in London for months. One of the coolest parts of the week from a comedian’s perspective is how often I found myself hanging around with full-time comedians that you will have seen, or will soon see on your TV’s. I even ended up hanging out with Sophie Duker!
The course itself began on the Monday. The EPDP is designed to take young producers, and bolster their skills and their network. Over the week we had networking events with the British Council, with people on the Emerging Artists program, and people who’ve come over from other countries. They put on an event for any BAME people too and this proved to be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved.
Fringe is pretty white. It’s not skiing-with-your-in-laws white, but it’s close.
This meet-up included performers, producers and people involved with diversity at the fringe. Jess, famous for running the infamous fringe-of-colour, was also at this event too.
I really appreciated how honest the fringe was about addressing their race problems and I could see that it’s something that people involved at every level are beginning to become aware of and combat.
It was very exciting seeing shows championing diversity (shout out to Tokyo Rose, award winning theatre piece produced by another CA member Tanya Agarwal).
There were talks tailored for us too, such as ‘Let’s Talk About Money’ and ‘The Artist and Producer Relationship’, which people found practical and insightful due to professionals working with us through the problems we have encountered. Being treated like a producer that Fringe wanted to work with was extremely rewarding and once they became aware of my interest in screen they even changed one of my events to a screen focused one. This was a highlight for me as I met people involved in film and tv from across the UK. All of the EPDP’s (as we were known) couldn’t stop giving advice and help to each other.
It was great to feel a sense of camaraderie about a bunch of individuals from around the UK facing similar challenges, and successes!
The main thing I took away from fringe was how incredible it was to soak up the place. By SHEER COINCIDENCE I ran into three different people I’d been hoping to introduce myself to from a career perspective. These aren’t people I knew would be there, neither are they people I know personally. Complete strangers I thought would be useful to know in life and I ran into them all within two days of each other, at different shows and spaces around Edinburgh.
The other thing is that it’s fiercely intense. Work hard, play hard. A highlight of playing hard was being invited to a Karaoke night run by comedy production company Berks Nest. Olga Koch, Cat Cohen and Huge Davies were all singing, as was Sophie Duker (for real!).
Being accepted to go on this course was genuinely a life altering event. I’ve come back hungrier and more motivated and I’ve realised how feasible being a performer/producer is now. Put yourself out there, it pays off.
Coming away from Fringe has left me with lots of ideas about what to do next. I’d like to move further into taking a show up myself as a comedian, Edinburgh really highlighted his conviction and a vision is all one needs to experience it as a creator and I definitely feel I have the capability to. As a producer it’s shown me the skills I currently over index on, but more crucially it showed me the areas I need to work on further. London can leave one feeling like an island, whereas fringe is so calming in showing you that you’re not along in your struggle. It’s a place of immense mental pressure, but simultaneously immense support.