Comedian Barry Ferns explains why he doesn’t do the Fringe by halves
The man behind This Belongs to Lionel Richie is performing on Arthur's Seat in 2012
This article is from 2012.
If you’re not doing something odd or unusual at the Edinburgh Fringe, then why come to a fringe festival? Just go to a festival. It’s the Fringe. I love the possibilities Edinburgh’s Fringe throws up. Audiences want, and enjoy, something different. Whether you’re asking audiences to send postcards to Nigel Havers, or taking them carol singing, or even on one occasion standing outside post offices untying tethered dogs and putting them into taxis – all things I’ve done – anything is possible.
In 2007 it was my personal mission to make everything in Edinburgh belong to Lionel Richie – with stickers reading ‘This Belongs to Lionel Richie’ on them. I succeeded, though in the process I had to change my name to Lionel Richie by deed poll. To change your name by deed poll costs £35, so I suppose there’s no going back now.
Over the years I’ve created a lot of odd Fringe experiences; one year I almost made a living selling ants to people (a trade with very low overheads). Another year I brought a sketch group of OAPs up, which was great except our venue, the very damp Underbelly, made their rheumatism flare up. One of the least predictable shows I did was Dial-a-sketch, where people would call us and we’d go deliver a show to them wherever they were. We performed in back gardens, public toilets and council chambers that year – the oddest place was on a moving bus! We had to meet the number N30 bus at a particular bus stop and do a show on the top deck. After we finished we were in Musselburgh and ended up almost missing our main show.
This year I’m doing a show every day on top of Arthur’s Seat, which is going to be amazing. I’m the venue manager for Arthur’s Seat – who else can say that they manage an extinct volcano?! I am climbing it every day with an amp and props, rain or shine (or more rain). The biggest challenge will be the physical one; I’ve had to go into training, just to make sure I can do it every day. I’ll be very fit/very dead by the end of the festival …