10/8/2012 11:23:00 AM
Not sure how you're spending your Thanksgiving weekend but I'm spending mine working. Among the many things that are critical, but never seen, and which drive a festival are schedules. Schedules for flights in and out with performers, schedules for shuttles that take comedians to venues, schedules to tell the emcees when to get comedians on and off the stages, schedules for set up and tear down, schedules for advertising and so on. While the 3 of us that organize this festival each have our duties that cause us to be incredibly busy at different times... schedules are mine.
If you look closely at atbcomedy.com you'll notice that many performers appear to be performing on different stages at the same time. They aren't. Many comedians, for example, are scheduled to do their set from 7:20 to 7:40 on one stage and then head to the door where a shuttle will take them to another venue for their 8:00 to 8:20 set. It's a common practice at festivals to get the most out of the comedians by constantly moving them around the city each night. The glue that holds it all together is the transport coordinator who oversees the shuttles, the emcee who has to keep adjusting his time to allow the next performer to arrive and, of course, the schedule.
On Saturday I sat at my kitchen table in front of my laptop for 8 hours and made all the schedules for performers sets and transport. On Sunday I finished all the other schedules in another 8 hour session. I know when the comedians arrive next week at least 1 or 2 will question the schedules asking questions like "Why am I being delivered to the show 45 minutes early?" The answer is that with 5 vans, 30 comedians, and 6 stages I don't have enough drivers to assign one driver per comic and so you have to share the van with someone that had to be there earlier than you.
I don't mind the work. I don't mind the questions. When I get a schedule to work I take quite a bit of pride in having made it work. What concerns me is ticket sales. I feel like anything less than a 100% sell out is a failure. I ask myself why should we offer 30 shows to the city that are 50% full when we could have more easily offered 15 shows that were 100% sold out. I'm sure ticket sales will take a jump in the next week as we approach opening night October 17th. They certainly did last year.
I hope the people of Edmonton will support this festival and help us grow again for next year. Right now I feel like I don't have the energy to organize another one but if this one sells out I will. It probably will at the last second... right on schedule.