Behind the scenes at Edinburgh Festivals 2014: Dan O’Neill - Front of house manager for Pleasance

  • The List
  • 2 August 2014

This article is from 2014

Behind the scenes at Edinburgh Festivals 2014: Dan O’Neill - Front of house manager for Pleasance

Dan O’Neill

We salute the tireless figures who devote their Augusts to making it all happen


Dan O’Neill

What’s your job title?

At the Fringe I’m front of house manager for Pleasance.

What do you actually do?

I manage a team of 30 ushers, making sure they’re at the right place at the right time to look after the audience for our larger venues. Basically we herd the public into neat little lines and reassure them that they’ve come to the right place. We also tear the odd ticket (over 200 shows a day), fetch water for people who faint, and engage in banter with people who’ve been drinking all day long.

Where are people likely to see you?

Most likely in the Pleasance Courtyard in a bright yellow t-shirt and a radio, darting around, constantly telling people where the toilets are. Constantly.

What’s your most memorable Fringe experience?

This is the non-glamourous side of the industry. Last year I was bringing in an audience of 300 up to a venue, and when I got to the door four people were stood outside blissfully unaware that they had accidently jumped the queue. I parked my audience on the stairs and approached the group to say they would have go to the back of the (massive) line behind me. This prompted the worst tirade of abuse I’ve ever experienced in my career, with the head of the group shouting about an inch away from my face. Eventually, after his hatred of me had worn off a little, we reached a compromise, and I allowed them to be let in halfway down the queue so we could get on with the show. About an hour later, a man ran up to me in the courtyard, insisted on shaking my hand and told me I should work for the UN.

What’s the worst thing about your job?

It’s an obvious one, but it’s exhausting. Last year about two thirds of the way through the festival I had so many blisters from walking on cobblestones all day that I was basically tip-toeing everywhere. But a night off and a bunch of blister plasters later and I was right as rain.

Any plans for this year?

I’m excited about seeing some of my favourite comics such as Adam Riches and James Acaster doing their new shows, but otherwise I just want to nail the job. It’s a buzz, and I can’t wait to get back into it.