James Hamilton: Experimental Spaces

Posted on 20 August 2013

We are in the midst of Edinburgh Fringe and coming up on Melbourne Fringe Festival. These have traditionally been exceptional places for people to experiment and develop their arts. Recently, I’ve been hearing quite a few rumblings about the state of Edinburgh Fringe. I have not yet been, so I can’t say one way or the other if that festival is in fact deteriorating into another corporate fish pond. However, some of the articles coming out about it make some good points.

I think part of the reason TV comedy’s so “safe” at the moment is because there’s no room for failure, and that’s reflected in the pressure on new acts taking shows to the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s no longer seen as a place to experiment. You’re expected to turn up and be perfect and if you’re not great, you’re rubbish. TV execs might be berated for not taking risks, but can you blame them? Nobody wants to fail, after all. Most people are terrified of failure. And if TV execs do meddle with the “bouillabaisse” of a sitcom script (come on, John Warburton – seriously?), I imagine they do it for that reason.

But freedom to fail is mega important if you want to do creative things. You need to be able to take a punt and throw an idea out there and let it not be perfect, let it fail – then put another idea out there and let it “fail better” than the first one. Releasing material without it passing through the hands of TV execs might mean it’s more likely to “fail”, but that’s what makes its successes really spectacular.

~James Hamilton
“Edinburgh 2013: There’s no room for failure in TV Comedy”, The Independent

Peace and kindness,


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