“Sons of Scotland, I am Danny Wallace”: The Edinburgh Fringe ‘Yes’ Experience (Part 1)


For those familiar with the name mentioned above, the book ‘Yes Man’ probably rings a bell. For those unfamiliar with the name, there may be some confusion – mainly because, contrary to what’s suggested in the title, I am not actually Danny Wallace. There’s no need to go into too much detail about the man (we all know how to use Wikipedia!) but it’s important to understand that in ‘Yes Man’, which was loosely adapted into the Jim Carrey movie of the same name, the Scottish-born writer describes a year of his life in which he says Yes to every offer that presents itself, in a bid to realise his potential and break free from a depressive, stagnating and mundane existence. It is an excellent book that I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone (you don’t even have to live a depressive, stagnating and mundane existence to enjoy it).

For Wallace, during his life changing adventure, Yes means opportunity and possibility, but it also contains a degree of fear and risk. For many of us in Scotland, the same word also encapsulates those elements. But, during this monumental period in Scottish history, those three letters mean so much more on a greater scale with a far bigger impact on the future of our country. And so, given I was in the midst of spending a large proportion of August in Edinburgh for the Fringe, I felt that it would be only right to consider putting the power of Yes into action, just like Wallace had done years before.

It was not an easy decision to make, however. There were many factors to consider. It made no sense just to turn up and say Yes to everything simply because I’d gotten a bit excited over some words of entertainment attributed to a man named Wallace. I also had many other plans for August, all taking place away from Edinburgh, and so I had to use any time I had at the Fringe wisely. Up until this point, I had been going to see shows and events that interested me, either because I’d read or heard about them beforehand or because a flyer had grabbed my attention, and it had been working nicely. The status quo meant that I could go through my day safely, going where I wanted, seeing what I wanted and, even if I didn’t enjoy some shows, at least I could be content in the knowledge that I had chosen to be there (with the help from a degree of propaganda).

And then there were the scare stories! You just had to log onto the internet and type in “Edinburgh Fringe” to find many tales of woe –  reviews on the boring, the cringe worthy, the terrible, and the downright disgraceful. So many commentators peddling such negativity, regardless of how accurate, would surely be enough to make anyone think twice about saying Yes? Sticking to what I was used to had kept me largely safe from those things so far. I was in my Edinburgh Fringe comfort zone. Could I really take the risk of saying Yes?

But then I considered it further. There were so many things I would never see at the Fringe. Perhaps the flyer was poorly produced, or it was too long a show, or I just didn’t fancy the genre – a multitude of reasons and excuses, most of them trivial or unimportant, that I had no doubt used to justify avoiding saying Yes. And yet, so many exciting possibilities and opportunities would lay before me if I just took the plunge and decided to say that simple word of affirmation. Sure, there would undoubtedly be some risks and it would probably take a bit of work at the beginning (internal negotiations over which shows should get a bigger slice of my attendance would no doubt occur in the case of time-clashes) but this was it – a chance to step into the unknown and take advantage of all the sublime barrel-loads of potential that it contained.

I, of course, had to have some sort of plan of attack – where to begin, what to spend, when to do it all – but my enthusiasm meant the trivial details were dealt with quickly. I would begin my day at the most logical place – the Scottish Parliament – before setting off up the Royal Mile. After coming to the obvious realisation that, despite saying Yes, I would still be permitted to use the pound at the Fringe, I set myself a modest budget for any shows offered my way that were not, unfortunately, free. And, finally, I had a day approaching that I was yet to make any plans for.

I now had my date with destiny – Saturday 10th August 2013.

The day I would pin my Yes badge to my jacket and stride confidently into the chaos of the Fringe.

The day I would allow positivity and possibility to trump negativity and cautious fear.

The day I would embrace the potential on offer.

 The day I would say Yes.

Jason Henderson
National Collective