Adam Lovejoy writes from Edinburgh: Let’s call a spade a spade for once. Let’s accept that the Edinburgh Fringe benefits no one, apart from dodgy comedy acts who can’t really entertain people properly.
The Fringe has always been presented as an opportunity for young performers to show off their talents, while mixing with the ‘established acts’ and learning from them. A good idea in itself, if it were not hijacked by total mediocrities who come to Edinburgh Fringe to unleash their amateurish acts, peddle filth and get away with it.
I’m not talking about the Edinburgh Festival but the Fringe, mind you. Although, to be honest, some of the acts at the Festival in recent years could have stayed away and saved everyone the time and the trouble of seeing them.
Anyway, the Fringe has long ago attracted all sorts of opportunists who use it to launch their careers. (It’s a bit like the BBC3 TV channel that has propelled some pretty awful acts to stardom.) These are the sort of amateurs who actually believe that to be controversial means to swear indiscriminately, pull silly faces and talk in silly voices. (Stardom, here I f..king come.) And the worst thing of all is that there are always idiots in the tiny audiences who laugh as if they’ve never heard the F-word or the C-word before.
Here I must digress and tell you about a friend of mine, a woman, a very intelligent woman I should add, who lives in Edinburgh. Every August she takes a long vacation, flying out of Britain to some exotic location. She told me once why she always goes on holiday in August. She said it was because she couldn’t stand the people who come to the Edinburgh Fringe. Described them as people who are easily pleased and like to get drunk as early in the day as possible. ‘Edinburgh becomes a hellhole during the Fringe,’ my friend said. ‘I simply can’t bear to be here.’
But what of it, you may ask. Most so-called ‘cultural festivals’ around the world have a downside to them? Look at the Cannes Film Festival: along with the mainstream films there is also a porn festival going on in the background. And to that I’ll say: that’s a very good comparison. Although the Fringe is probably even worse than porn, as it is about pornography of the inner self when people demean themselves and behave like lowlifes.
Let me explain to you how the Fringe works. Some ‘aspiring comedy talent’ or some thuggish performer comes to Edinburgh, performs their stupid routines, raises a couple of cheap laughs or weak applause from the audience of five and then gets the publicity from the critics, who will claim, unashamedly, that a ‘new star’ is born. And the BBC will throw its weight behind the ‘new talent’ and at some point you will see or hear these creeps on some BBC TV or radio channels, sucking the dick of political correctness, if you pardon the expression, producing some abysmal stuff. And it does not matter that these ‘stars’ weren’t any good and it doesn’t matter that only ten people saw them, with half walking out in the middle of the show. The mediocrity mafia will make you think that it was a huge success and that lots of people loved it.
A lot of so-called ‘popular’ comedians in Britain, America and other countries made their careers by taking part in the Edinburgh Fringe. I can tell you that several dozen names managed to become ‘stars’ of comedy. You can find out who they are if you watch what goes on at the Fringe this year and which ‘established comedians’ hang out there. These are the people, who have made a name for themselves sneaking in through the back door, if you know what I mean. No wonder comedy in Britain sucks.
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