What do you think of the critics? | Edinburgh Fringe comedians give their view...

What do you think of the critics?

Edinburgh Fringe comedians give their view...

At the risk of hearing an answer we didn’t want, we asked Fringe comedians their opinion of reviewers…

Every art form needs critics. You can't create anything inside a vacuum

Nathan D'Arcy Roberts: Present/Tense, Gilded Balloon Teviot at 4:20pm

Verbose hecklers.  Gong Show audiences with pens: we go to follow our dream, you go to destroy them. No, I maybe had feelings like this when younger, as older and wiser, reviewers have their place, they are a valuable part of the ecosystem. I wish (particularly older) reviewers could be a bit more considerate in the words they choose to use before writing a scathing review of some 19-year-old with a head full of dreams who’s still learning the ropes. Nonetheless while a 2* review can ruin your fringe, a 4* review can make your Fringe
Raul Kohli: Full Inglish, City Cafe 4.55pm

Reviewers, like artists, are not a monolith and they all have different motivations, but I get the impression that it is also a labour of love for them. It costs a fortune to be part of Fringe no matter if you are performing or reviewing. I think we all love what we are doing and mostly want to help each other out. Real talk, some people do it to feel important. Just like the performers. It seems like the majority are excited about sharing about great shows.
Abigail Paul: Involuntary Momslaughter, Greenside Riddle's Court 6:35pm

Once we had a reviewer with v. strong opinions on our show, who on closer inspection was a food tech student. That's all we'll say there.
Anna Leong Brophy and Emily Lloyd-Saini, Egg: Absolutely Fine, Pleasance Courtyard, 4:50pm

Never have I more desired the approval of 19-year-old comedy nerds than at the fringe! Reviewers are great, they work really hard and bring lots of audience members in. It feels really frustrating when you get a bad review and really great when you get a good one, but ultimately you can't give someone else  the keys to your self esteem.
Michael Kunze: Infinity Mirror, Laughing Horse at Three Sisters, 11am

I've had some horrible experiences with reviewers in the past and have chosen to be indifferent to them. I'm not actively seeking them out but if they come I hope they're not middle aged, straight, white men
Laufey Haralds: Pip, Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose 4.20pm

Well, when the reviews are good I bloody love them! But really, I think reviews can be a really valuable way of getting exposure and of helping audiences find shows that might resonate with them. That said, it can be really difficult when it’s one person’s opinion that gets hugely amplified - and perhaps they’re not the audience the show was intended for. I think sometimes reviewers can forget there’s a person on the other end of it who has put a lot of themselves, their time and their money, into creating something. I’m not saying mollycoddle us, but the Fringe is brutal enough anyway. It’s possible to engage critically without being downright mean. I guarantee you we’re already being hard enough on ourselves…

Kathy Maniura: Objectified , Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4.40pm

They are not really looking and they don't have the endurance to sit through the end of the Fringe when the shows really come into their own
Anu Vaidyanathan: Blimp, Underbelly Bristo Square, 7:15pm

I'm pro (good) reviewers. I think if comedy wants to consider itself an artform it should be subject to critical review. In my opinion a lot of the common criticisms often thrown at reviewers (‘Why did this funny show only get three stars?’) ignore how the review culture of the Edinburgh fringe and other festivals over the years have helped develop what we now think of as someone's 'hour' into consistently new and interesting places
Alex Kitson: Fired Up! Ready to Go!, The Mash House, 7:30pm

It's hard to not say that reviewers aren't a complicated part of the festival ecosystem. They are necessary - there isn't a single performer who doesn't use a strong quote (even one taken out of context) as it is a simple shorthand to tell audiences who don't know you someone else thinks you are alright.  I love reviews, when I can use them but it has created a system of pay-to-play which can disadvantage those with less money to play. Not having PR makes getting reviewers harder.

While financial stability is the ultimate goal critical praise helps with the next festival, or audition, or whatever opportunity the festival brings.
Matt Harvey: Wage Against The Machine, Canons' Gait, 8:15pm

Honestly I can't wait to be reviewed. I've been doing stand-up for a few years now and it's not often I get to hear unbiased feedback about my work. Is it stressful? Totally. Will I feel awful? Probably yes! But that's what being a public performer entails and while I don't intend on changing as an artist based off of reviews, it's incredibly helpful to hear if my point is ever actually getting across (once I figure out what my point is).
Zoe Brownstone & Dom McGovern: Tied For Second, Just The Tonic Subatomic  4:30pm

Reviewers are people with opinions and their opinions are as subjective as anybody’s. Like every person, their opinions are shaped by prejudices, their background and personal preferences; they just happen to be published to a large audience. Reviews are interesting to read and help promote shows. Sometimes some consideration as to how much critics may be affecting a new young performer emotionally would be nice in terms of the harshness of the language
Ruth Hunter: The Ruth is on Fire, The Banshee Labyrinth, 5:10pm

I think they are all great. Except the ones who don't like me, they're problematic and probably nonces
Alison Spittle: Soup, Monkey Barrel Hive, 1:35pm

Reviews serve two purposes; to provide a bit of context for audience members wanting to book a ticket and for performers to use pull quotes on posters to, again, provide context for audience members. If you're doing a three-week run in London with a press night you can tangibly see their impact on sales figures. Other than that, they're just an opinion. I have more viscerally disagreed with 5 star reviews of shows I have done than 2 stars

Benjamin Alborough: Absolute Monopoly, Assembly George Square, 5:50pm

They're crucial once you find the ones that you trust to reflect as close to your own tastes as possible.
Chris Grace: As Scarlett Johansson, Assembly George Square, 1:40pm

We try not to think about them and just concentrate on giving the audience a great time. If you put too much of your validation into reviews, it's not good for you or the show.
ComedySportz, Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters, 1.45pm

Can I answer that after the reviews for my show are in? Becky Fury: Identity , Laughing Horse @ Bar 50, 7.45pm

Reviewers are very useful, I totally see it. They give us good feedback, that is objective and helps us grow. That being said, when the pressure of reviewers is not around, everyone is so much more relaxed…
George Zacharopoulos: Wonderland, Pleasance Dome, 8:30pm

Anyone who gives me a great review is clearly a person of taste, with a great sense of humour. And anyone who gives me a bad review: Much easier to sit there and judge than get up and do it yourself! HERE, TAKE MY MICROPHONE! YOU TRY! EVERYONE'S A CRITIC!, Avital Ash Workshops Her Suicide Note, Monkey Barrel at The Tron at 10:05 pm

I don't know how they do it, to be honest.They watch so many shows and then write about them, and on top of that they have hundreds of people constantly trying to get their attention to review their shows. It sounds overwhelming
Anesti Danelis: This Show Will Change Your Life, Underbelly Bristo Square, 3:55pm

I have no problem with receiving a less-than-positive but honest review. Art is subjective. What I cannot stand is sending out dozens of emails to various reviewers and publications and getting either no response or get told that these reviewers are all booked up even three months before the fringe has started. More often than not, reviewers are then going and reviewing shows that have already received dozens of reviews as opposed to seeking out new work.
Alexander Richmond: One Man 12 Angry Men, City Cafe, 2.25pm

I might regret this, but I think they do an important job. Also, any review is usually quite good publicity, even if it results in people flocking to ogle at a one-star show. I'll take the ticket money regardless of the spirit in which it was bought.
John Tothill: The Last Living Libertine, Pleasance Courtyard, 8.30pm

A lot of shows and performers are in very early stages or are experimental and I think reviewers should consider that. Reviews are so useful when they're specific and constructive, but needs to be taken into account that Edinurgh Fringe shows are usually far from polished
My Last Two Brain Cells, The Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 9:40pm

While Ratatouille ensured that they'll always terrify me, ultimately I have a lot of great of respect for them. In fact, I feel like I may like to be one myself one day.  Being a nerd who listens to all the Fringe Society podcasts, the episode about the media gave me a newfound appreciation. There's over 3,000 shows, which is a lot of press releases. You can't read them all, and the episode's advice to "remember you are writing to a person, not a company’r eally stuck with me.
Biscuit Barrel: The 69-Sketch Show, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3.40pm

Life is way too short to be worried about people's opinion of your work. As long as I am learning and growing, it doesn't matter.
Jaz Mattu Emerges, The Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, 3pm

I think there should be more specific reviews, without material spoilers obv, and a bit more emphasis on what was good, where possible. There could be more focus on how much an audience enjoyed something rather than the reviewer's personal taste.
Ciaran Bartlett's Machine Gun Of Filth, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 10:30pm

On the one hand it's clear comedy/art is subjective - and reviewers can have different priorities from audiences. It can also be frustrating seeing what could be years of work reduced to a few pithy sentences. Then again, if they like my show I'll be using their quotes and stars – so clearly I'm invested in what they have to say
Matt Hutchinson: Hostile, Assembly Geogre Square 2.30 pm

Big professional reviewers are great to get a view on how my stuff is perceived from someone who has seen a lot. Then there’s the new reviewers cutting their teeth, so I guess I’m less concerned if they like the show or not. If they give me four stars though, you better believe I’m using it to flog my show
Adam Flood: Remoulded, Monkey Barrel at The Hive 3:20pm

Depends on how many stars they give me. The odd thing is, whenever I see a show and read a review, I tend to disagree with it. If I haven’t seen the show, I treat the review like it’s gospel.
Paddy Young: Hungry, Horny, Scared, Pleasance Courtyard 9:35pm

I think the best reviewers are generally quite worldly at times more than the audiences. When you're an act of colour like me you can easily tell the reviewers that are bit more cultured from the ones aren't. Mamoun Elagab: Why I Love White People, Pleasance Courtyard, 6.10pm

So if you do think informed review are important, you should probably read this...

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Published: 7 Aug 2023

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