March 29, 2011

How to ruin a brilliant idea

Or: Why you should think it through

The Camden Crawl is an ace idea. Yes, it’s one of those two-day arts and music festivals lots of places have, where lots of different venues put on lots of different shows. But what it does differently is get one of the core components of a festival right: you pay once, £40 for a day ticket, and you see as much as you want. It takes all the pressure off, you feel like you’re part of a proper festival and not an unconnected series of events. Bloody brilliant.

Now one thing about it is, it runs a whole bunch of varied arty fringe stuff during the day. Theatre, comedy, dance, quizzes, all that stuff. But come 7pm this ends and the focus shifts over to music, and it’s also when the big-names acts are on. That’s fine, it’s a system that works, and in isolation it’s brilliant.

But someone spotted a gap in the market, and so this year The Comedy Crawl launches. It offers a whole bunch of brilliant comedy in the same area over seven venues from 7pm until midnight for a one-off fee. £20 gets you 5 hours of comedy, rather than the 2 hours you’d get for the same money from Jongleurs. And you can pick and choose your gigs. Again, in isolation, this is bloody brilliant.

The problem is, they’re two different events. Now were they competing events, that would make sense. But they’re quite hapilly cross-promoting each other and seem pretty friendly. Still, no problem, one can choose from an evening of great comedy, or a more expensive full day of great comedy and music.

Well maybe I just want the moon on a stick.

But I don’t live in London, and while it’s not far away, the money and time cost of the journey mean I want to get the most of out any trip. And as you probably know, I like me some comedy. I’d love to spend all day hanging around Camden watching live comedy in loads of different places. That’d be brilliant. It’d be like Edinburgh except a bit more conceited and a lot less expensive.

The problem is, to do that, it looks like I have to buy myself a Camden Crawl ticket, spend the day watching their comedy, then buy myself a Comedy Crawl ticket, and spend the evening watching their comedy, while basically throwing away the whole latter half of the Camden Crawl ticket. And that’s being optimistic, as with all the ‘big names’ of music on later in the evening, I’m sure a lot more than half the ticket price goes towards paying acts on during the night rather than their less famous friends on during the day.

I’d happily pay the full Camden Crawl ticket price, not see any bands, and just watch comedy all day. But I resent the idea that I’d have to pay £20 more than everyone else just to do that.

And it’s basically put me off going to either. By trying to do something extra for comedy fans, they’ve basically ruined it for comedy fans.

My solution? I’d have stuck a fiver on the Comedy Crawl ticket price and given that to the Camden Crawl folk in exchange for a Comedy Crawl wristband granting access to any Camden Crawl venue prior to 7pm. Then maybe have the Camden Crawl folk offer a combined ticket at a £5 premium over their price that gives access to the Comedy Crawl venues too.

Basically, I’d have thought it through from the perspective of someone who likes live comedy more than live music. But then I suppose there aren’t that many of them in and around Camden with it’s six million comedy clubs are there?

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