Fringe Diaries: Paul Sinha on ‘the final stretch…’
Only four gigs to go now and would you believe it? It has been hugely enjoyable. After initial misgivings about appalling weather and poor ticket sales, things have settled down and I’m definitely having more fun than I can remember at any other festival. I have been spoilt with visitors including family, awesome friends (that’s you Duncan and Ang) and a special young man.
I have also got off my backside and watched loads of shows, and loved them all. Yesterday’s double bill of Jo Neary and Gavin Webster was tremendous. Congrats to all, but especially Brett Goldstein – an astonishingly good show if like me you only know him as the amiable compere at the 99 Club – and to Cariad Lloyd, whose wonderful character sketch show at the Voodoo Rooms has deservedly earned the Free Fringe its second nomination.
About those nominations. It’s a great list. It seems almost pointless to moan about the continuing domination of Pleasance acts on the list – 9/14 is in no way representative of the spread of comedic talent at the Fringe. The symbiotic relationship between the Pleasance and the award will never, ever change. But it is a great list, and many congratulations to all of them, not least the aforementioned Cariad and Chris Ramsey. Chris may seem like the surprise choice, but having gigged with him recently in Leeds it is pretty clear that he is a ridiculously gifted comedian.
The Fosters awards are not the only awards earning column inches today. There is the annual “Joke of the Fringe” nonsense organised by TV channel Dave. Personally I can think of nothing which misrepresents what most of us are trying to do up here than reducing complex, nuanced shows to a single sound bite taken out of context and often misquoted. When I think of all the jokes which have reduced me to tears at the Fringe over the years, there is inevitably a back story or context which makes the joke magical. In my opinion this whole farce utterly cheapens the concept of Fringe comedy and it is even more depressing just how much media attention is lavished on it.
It is this sort of drivel that makes me with each passing year more proud to be associated with the Stand Comedy Club, an institution with far loftier ambitions regarding Fringe comedy. Last night at Political Animal , messrs Andy Zaltzman, John Oliver and “voice of God” Daniel Kitson combined to make me laugh harder than I have ever laughed before. It was utterly joyous. Tonight’s show features them as well as Rich Hall , Robin Ince , Simon Munnery and myself. It is undoubtedly the best bill I have ever been on and it has already sold out. I for one am sick with excitement.