Saw Arthur Smith last night at the Greenwich Comedy Festival – damn good stuff and always an odd experience to see a stand-up comic who’s so damn local, he does jokes about teachers at your old school. But not everyone had a good time – Steve at Wait Until Next Year couldn’t even get a ticket to see a show last night, despite queueing in the rain.
We’d decided against ordering tickets online. After navigating our way through the online ordering process we found we’d be charged £1.65 to print out each ticket (or £1.00 per ticket to have to collect them in person on the night), followed by a £1.85 ‘service fee’. We decided that £3.50 per ticket was a bit steep for an automated ticketing service, where we would be providing the paper and ink for the tickets ourselves.
So…we decided to head down on the night and see if we could buy tickets in person, with cold, hard, well-earned cash.
I was expecting a fun, buzzing atmosphere, even despite the rain. Instead, we were greeted by queues. Queues everywhere.
As the queue got ever longer and showtime got ever closer, we noticed one particular group at the front being looked after very closely, for quite some time, by the box office staff. And quite clearly at the expense of everyone else waiting behind. Ah, yes. That’ll be why. Press people.
Then, we reached the head of the queue.
“Could I buy two tickets please, with cash?”
The person serving us seemed unsure, so asked his superior. “Can I sell them two tickets?”
She looked at us. And then, without any apology or explanation, told us that she had decided she didn’t want to sell any more cash tickets. If we wanted to go and get a drink, then we could come back later and she might decide to sell us one then.
In the end, Steve turned around and went home. Admittedly, I was also on a press ticket, but I was in the same queue, and also saw that lucky group ushered to the front. The whole thing looked chaotic – especially with the Naval College lawn getting muddy after yesterday’s downpour. But despite all these queues, the tent for Arthur Smith’s show was only just over half-full.
I was away last year, so I don’t know how it compares with the first festival. But while Smith’s show was great, the whole thing seemed a bit of a mess – and maybe with a later start (7.30pm is a bit early for a one-hour show) and a couple of quid knocked off ticket prices (£14 + sundry fees for an hour’s entertainment), they might have sold a few more tickets. If, as Steve recounts, they could be arsed to sell them in the first place.