Accordion-playing German cabaret star Hans – the character created by Adelaide entertainment writer Matt Gilbertson – helped put the festival in front of millions of American viewers when he won his way through to the quarter finals of America’s Got Talent last year.
It was the third year in a row that Adelaide Fringe acts have won over AGT audiences following the success of The Naked Magicians in 2017 and 2016 finalist Boy with Tape on his Face.
Hans, a perennial Fringe favourite who garnered global attention after several rousing renditions on the US talent show, is one of three Adelaide Fringe Ambassadors this year along with AFL footballer turned Indigenous artist Gavin Wanganeen and comedian Judith Lucy.
The Adelaide Fringe’s Honey Pot program brings festival directors, booking agents, talent scouts and venue managers to the Fringe each year to meet with local performers.
The arts marketplace began with 78 delegates in 2014, resulting in 28 bookings worth $196,000; by 2018, delegate numbers had grown to 204, resulting in 125 bookings said to be worth more than $2 million.
The 2019 Honey Pot will be the biggest on record, with 242 delegates from 25 countries representing organisations and venues including the Sydney Opera House, Darwin Festival, Soho Theatre London, The Cape Town Funny Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and America’s Got Talent.
Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall says the Honey Pot program helps Adelaide stand out from the growing list of rival fringe festivals.
“It means that Adelaide Fringe artists are performing for the direct audience but they are also performing in the hope they will get picked up and launch into a tour around Australia and the world.”
Croall says although America’s Got Talent is an audition-based show, the talent scout will be in Adelaide to identify the next potential Hans and convince them to audition.
“Hans has done a lot of work to make them aware of Australia and particularly Adelaide,” Croall says of the cabaret performer’s TV success in the US last year.
America’s Got Talent averages 10 million viewers per season in the US and features celebrity judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and creator Simon Cowell.
This year’s Adelaide Fringe begins on February 15. Hans is performing at the Big Burns Supper festival in Scotland this weekend and will bring his Hans: Like a German cabaret show to Gluttony from February 26 to March 17.
A longer version of this article was originally published on The Lead.