Fringe 'shuns regional talent'

Comic slams venues and promoters

A Manchester comic has blasted Edinburgh Fringe producers for shunning talent that doesn’t come from London.

Ian Fox says he’s experienced blatant bias while auditioning for showcase gigs, and that the big festival venues turned their back on comics who didn’t come from the capital.

And he claimed:“Many northern comedians are funnier than London comedians who can be a bit iffy and a bit prima donna–ish.”

Fox became angry with the situation after travelling to a London club to audition for a place in one Edinburgh showcase.

“It was blatantly obvious that I was the best there,” he said. “But as I stood at the back at the end of the night, they announced a girl was the winner on just her third gig. I thought then, ‘what’s the point of this?’ London just isn’t open to outsiders. Perhaps they still have the idea of us Northerners with flat caps and whippets.”

Not to be beaten, Fox decided to take his own showcase of North-West talent to last year’s Fringe – only to be shunned by both the Pleasance and the Gilded Balloon.

“They just weren’t interested in putting on acts they didn’t know,” he said. “They were not open to the idea.”

In the end, Manchester-based Cyclops Events stepped in with a “competitive deal” in their new venue, The Pod, and The Great Big Comedy Picnic went ahead.

“A couple of weeks ago, these venues were criticising the Pod’s deals to attract big acts, saying that it would stop investment in new acts. But they don’t support new acts,” he said.

The showcase, which is a co-operative between the ten acts taking part, returns to the Pod’s new venue, Pod Deco, this year.

Published: 26 May 2004

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