Friday, 28 August 2009

Bigmouth strikes again

I must be careful what I write. Discovering anyone actually reads your blog comes as a surprise to many people, typing away in isolation. When your blog post ends up in the newspaper and everyone you know seems to have read it, you really start to worry about what you said. Well, according to today's Scotsman, this is what I said:

Comedy judges 'myopic' for Pleasance picks

Published Date: 28 August 2009
THE judges of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards have been accused of being "lazy", "myopic" and "insulting" for shortlisting nominees who mainly appeared at one venue – the Pleasance.
The shortlist for the awards, formerly known as the Perriers and now in their 28th year, was unveiled on Wednesday.

But the line-up has angered comic artist Kevin Sutherland, whose show The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre Goes To Hollywood, staged at the Gilded Balloon, was awarded four stars by The Scotsman's festival reviewers.

On his blog Mr Sutherland wrote: "I'm bugged by the myopia of the judges in this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Of all the contenders, two are on at the Underbelly and the remaining nine are on at the Pleasance.

"Are we really saying that there were no good acts at the Assembly Rooms, at the Gilded Balloon, on the Five Pound Fringe, on the Free Fringe?

Awards director and financial backer Nica Burns denied favouritism yesterday. "The judges made 2,000 visits to 400 different shows in 18 days – how dare he call them lazy?" she said. "It is absolutely coincidental that this has happened. It is just that the Pleasance has more comedy."

And, yes, I did say myopic, insulting and lazy, so I can hardly regret it being so widely circulated. I do feel a little like I'll be a comedy industry pariah now, but the comics I spoke to last night were all supportive and a few said they had wanted to say something but daren't because, well because they still want to be eligible for Awards in the future, something I've clearly given up the idea of.

After talking for a while, I started to feel sympathetic to the judges and the Pleasance. Maybe the Pleasance simply did have the best comedy, and it was a coincidence.

Then I was reminded by looking through The Scotsman today that there is actually a pretty reliable court of second opinion. In the back of the Scotsman there is a Best Of The Fest, listing by category all the shows to have received 5 and 4 stars. I wondered if they would concur, and all the top shows would be from the Pleasance. What do you think?

The breakdown looks like this. 5 star Comedy shows come from the following venues:
The Pleasance - 2 shows (Idiots of Ants & Tom Wrigglesworth)
Assembly - 1 show (Dixie's Tupperware Party)
Canons Gait Free Fringe - 1 show (Peter Buckley Hill)
GRV - 1 show (Blow Up)
The Stand - 1 show (Phil Nichol)
Underbelly - 1 show (Paul Zerdin)

4 star comedy shows break down thus:
The Pleasance - 10 shows
Gilded Balloon - 8 shows
Underbelly - 5 shows
The Stand - 5 shows
Assembly - 5 shows
Bongo Club - 1 show
Just The Tonic - 1 show

So The Pleasance undeniably has more highly rated comedy shows than other venues. Just not THAT many. Gosh, I feel vindicated all over again.

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