Richard Herring has predicted the Edinburgh bubble is about to burst, in the face of disappointing ticket sales.
He said he was getting his lowest audience figures in seven years and that even without the effects of the Olympics, the festival had got too big to be viable for many acts.
Writing on his Warming Up blog, he said: ‘I am being forced to accept that this is going to be a very quiet year in Edinburgh. The only consolation (if it can be called that) is that it is seemingly the same for everyone, but it's a shame that I have taken the chance on a bigger venue in the year when the Olympics/the recession/the dissatisfaction with high prices of everything in Edinburgh (delete or add as applicable - there's no definitive answer) has sucked out all the punters as if someone opened the door on a space craft.
‘I got a respectable 158 in tonight, but that is half the number that came to see me last year and my lowest Friday night Edinburgh audience since 2005 (and only because the room that year only held 150). It's very hard not to let your head drop as you think about the financial implications.’
He added that another factor was that ‘The Fringe has got too big and there are too many comedians. It's open to the same market forces as the rest of life and it can't expand indefinitely.’
He is not the only bigger act to have modest sales, and said that the failure of bigger acts to sell out also hits newer comics in the established venues who might benefit from ‘overflow’ sales.
Herring added that he would scale down his venue next year – he’s in the main Underbelly cow – to be more realistic about the number of fans he has.
He has also previously questioned his venue’s policy of showing the Olympics on screens in the bar, causing noise to disrupt his show, saying: ‘It's odd being in a venue where the performance takes equal or even second place to the bar.’