You can be one of the biggest names in comedy. But the way to really get audiences queuing round the block is simple – offer them free tea and biscuits.
That’s what Wolverhampton comic Paul Savage discovered while appearing at the Edinburgh Festival for the first time.
He called his show Free Tea and Biscuits and kept his side of the bargain, giving everyone who turned up a cuppa and a snack. And it worked a treat.
“I went up with Andrew McWhirter in 2010,” remembers Paul.
“We’d been told the average audience for a show is six people, so we thought we’d be doing well if we got 20. Instead we got 120 people queuing down the street.
"We had to run out to Tesco’s to buy more biscuits. When we were drumming up business in the street, as soon as we said ‘free tea and biscuit’, instead of hurrying off people turned on their heel and went ‘OK’.
“They just wanted a sit down and a cuppa. They probably would have watched anything, though most people said they liked the show.”
In August, Paul is back in Edinburgh doing his first solo show, called Cheerful Shambles, at the Dragonfly.
“The title comes from when I was running a quiz at the Hare and Hounds pub in Kings Heath. A woman said ‘We like how you do it, it’s a cheerful shambles’. That sums up my life, really.”
Paul, 29 from Tettenhall, plucked up the courage to attempt stand-up six years ago during a talent night at The Bull in Moseley.
“It wasn’t terrible enough for me to stop.
“My material was hideous though, just unfiltered thoughts from my brain. I threatened to kill Dido because she was annoying. Someone said afterwards ‘I don’t think everyone else hates her quite as much as you’.
“So I’ve toned it down. I’m just about making a living out of comedy now, after years in various jobs.
“I’m not very good at having a boss.
“My mouth has got me into trouble in the past, but now it can provide funny stories rather than lead me to having to find a new job.”
* Paul Savage’s preview gigs include The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, Birmingham on July 28. For more details go to www.paulsavagecomedy.com .