Saturday, 4 August 2012

The bloody Guardian's bloody Edinburgh bloody coverage. Again.

We've been in Edinburgh since Wednesday having a stonking time doing two shows a day - last night's Boo Lingerie show had the largest audience we've ever had in Edinburgh (by dint of our venue being our biggest yet and us nearly filling it, already), and already the Socks have 3 adult shows and 3 kids shows under our belt, plus a bit of TV filming for BBC Three, about which you'll learn more when we discover what's made the final edit. But I've not felt motivated to blog yet. That all changed just now when I took my first look at the Guardian's alleged Edinburgh Fringe coverage. Have a look. What is wrong with this picture?

So we have Rhod Gilbert, comedian, talking about comedy. Then we have some comedians (about which more below) talking about comedy. Then Chris Ramsay, comedian, does a tour of Edinburgh looking at food and tourists and, of course, comedy. Then finally we have a "Preview: What To See At The Fringe" which is a Comedy Special.

Dear Guardian, the Edinburgh Fringe is NOT A COMEDY FESTIVAL!!! This coverage, headlined and branded as coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe, and being the only Edinburgh Fringe coverage I can see on the front page of the Guardian online is completely misleading.

I seem to remember complaining about this in previous years, yet still The Guardian (my paper of choice by the way) continues to see the Edinburgh Fringe as a Comedy Festival, then begrudgingly and incidentally mentions the rest of the Fringe - the other 65% of which is not comedy. The theatre (still the largest part of the Fringe - remember Edinburgh is where the term Fringe Theatre comes from in the first place), the art, the music, and all the rest of it. It would be like if a TV channel was covering the Olympics and completely concentrated on their own nation's athletes. Which would be unimaginable.

So why is The Guardian so comedy-centric? Has it been got to by the "Etonian Cabal" of whom Stewart Lee speaks in this excellent article? Let's see. Let's look again at that piece, listed above, where some comedians talk about comedy. Which comedians have they chosen, I wonder?

Oh for sweary-word's sake Guardian!!!!!! Edinburgh is not a Comedy Festival, and all comedy is not on at the sweary-wording PLEASANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is quite simply the laziest journalism possible. If we accept that the paper is only writing about comedy today, fair enough, there are comedy shows all over Edinburgh. The biggest names are in the so-called Big Four Venues, of which there are, of course, five: The Pleasance, The Assembly (which is not in the Assembly Rooms but has just taken the name), The Gilded Balloon (my venue for the last 11 years, the only Scottish-run venue of this group), The Underbelly (the Etonian Cabal about whom Stewart Lee is so unkind), and Just The Tonic at the Caves. There is also a significant line-up of comedy at The Stand (the Scottish comedy club that runs all year round in Edinburgh & Glasgow and which now is in charge of the Assembly Rooms, and where Stewart Lee now performs), as well as on the Free Fringe and the Free Festival (home to up-and-coming and experimental comedy & theatre alongside many established names) and various other venues, most of which have theatre as their specialisation and comedy as a secondary item. The Pleasance is just a fraction of that.

But The Pleasance is the fraction that lazy journalists seem to like to hang out in. And, like the judges of the Comedy Awards about whom we will no doubt all be bitching in a few weeks time, they settle for looking at and interviewing the small number of comedians based in that venue, many of whom share the same agent (by whom Stewart Lee used to be represented and from whom he split on such terms that he chooses not to mention their actual name anywhere in his excellent recent autobiographical book How I Escaped My Certain Fate). So it is that the unforgivably blinkered & myopic James Kettle has chosen to interview 9 comedians, 7 of whom are performing at The Pleasance.

This is like writing a book about the Middle East but only mentioning those countries that are predominantly Jewish.

Luckily the Previews piece is slightly more balanced. Also written by James Kettle, it describes 6 shows, only 4 of which are at The Pleasance.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre present not one but two new shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012: Boo Lingerie - A Socky Horror Show every night at 10.40pm and Chunky Woollen Nits - The Family-Friendly Hour at 11am. Tickets are now on sale, book now!

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