Edinburgh Fringe is a cruel place for comedians
Max Dickins has been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s pissed off by the ‘chimps with laptops’ who review his gigs
A fortnight in Edinburgh has passed like the Moon being pulled along by a donkey, inevitably and slowly. Each new morning unfurling, a damp Groundhog Day, like a red carpet to monotony: flyer-perform-drink-repeat.
There is some novelty though: I had to go to Argos today to replace a prop. Going to Argos is a profoundly sad experience these days, I think because of its blatant redundance. The bright blue walls seem darkened by the shadow of the internet.
Who the fuck shops in Argos in 2014? Everything Argos sells you can buy on Amazon, but cheaper and with next day delivery. So the only people shopping in Argos are people thinking: “I NEED A TRAMPOLINE TODAY!” But why?
Edinburgh is full of good parties. I went to one the other night. A girl who’d just split up with her long-term boyfriend spent the entire evening trying to get off with a girl. She said: “Look I just want to experiment; I really want to have a lesbian experience”.
That’s a very female mind-set. I’ve never heard a bloke on the rebound say “I’ll tell you what, I really want to wank off Geoff”.
At the party, some female friends were telling me how much they preferred tall men, and as a short man I found that offensive. Actually, no I didn’t, not offensive, just annoying. I’d like to be taller because I’d get more sex, it’s a simple equation.
But imagine for a moment we replaced the word “tall” in the sentence with the word “slim”, and put the words in a man’s mouth talking about a woman. “I prefer slim women”. Suddenly it becomes unsayable. I think objectification works both ways.
You might think that height prejudice is harmless in society, but statistics show that tall men earn more over a career than short men, so there is some racism going on.
I want to smash through that glass ceiling on behalf of all short men. Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to reach it.
Part of the Edinburgh experience as a performer is putting up with reviews. You have three tiers of reviews: the broadsheets (The Scotsman, the Guardian etc), special Edinburgh publications (Three Weeks, Broadway Baby), and then the blogs.
The broadsheets are unlikely to watch your show unless you’ve paid a PR agency two grand plus VAT to get them in. The special Edinburgh publications seem to employ chimps with laptops who are devoid of any understanding of the craft they’re criticising, thus reducing their writing to a crass subjective judgement which is empty of any contextual texture and tends to be “I didn’t like it, 2 stars” or “I loved it, 5 stars”.
I’d write to them all individually to explain the difference between subjectivity and objectivity but I’m worried they can’t actually read. Finally you have the blogs, who tend to be comedy fans and/or egotistical maniacs looking for a free ticket, or to make a name for themselves.
Criticism can be brilliant. Anyone who has read any of Clive James’ essays will attest to that. There are also some excellent comedy reviewers (Steve Bennett at Chortle, Bruce Dessau at the Evening Standard). But on the whole I think reviewers at Edinburgh are scum.
Their defence is that they’re wannabe writers, as we are wannabe comics, and they write reviews to showcase their literary talent. Well, if that’s the case, why don’t you write something original? Grow a pair of plums and put your name next to something you’ve created with the sincere intention of it being excellent.
Instead, they piggy-back off the endeavour of others; leeching from those who’ve made themselves supremely vulnerable by putting themselves in the arena, face marred by dust and sweat and blood, saying “look at what I’ve made”. They are scabs, loathsome parasites, gutless hacks who are unaccountable for their stupidity.
And yet, like a dog returning to its own vomit, we desperately pursue their opinions every year, clinging onto any positive phrase like a miner fortunate enough to chance across a diamond at the coal face. Stapling their moronic epigrams to our flyers:
“He done good laugh bits. I like bit about wanking. Bit about love is bad, but had willys in it.” 5 stars, The Skinny
And yet we conveniently ignore the other spurious reviews:
“I think silly idiot. Me hate him. He have dumb face. I hope he die.” 1 star, Giggle Beats
Of course, my only concern is for your pleasure, dear audience. And your company would be greatly appreciated at the Pleasance Courtyard, 3:30pm, My Groupon Adventure.