Men 'are funnier than women'

...but only just, says our research

Men are funnier than women – but only just, according to analysis of Edinburgh Fringe reviews.

A study of Chortle reviews, reveals that shows featuring a male comedian or an all-male cast scored an average star rating of 3.27; while the figure for female shows was 3.04 – showing that on average men attracted eight per cent more stars than their female counterparts.

Our critics gave in-depth reviews of 273 shows at the Fringe. Excluding one-off shows and those with mixed casts, almost 22 per cent were from female performers. And the overall average star rating was 3.21.

This was the first year that two women have featured on the Edinburgh Comedy Award shortlist: Sarah Millican and Josie Long.

After she was nominated Long said: 'There are loads of brilliant women comedians out there but gender has nothing to do with the art you are going to produce or how funny you will be.'

Analysis of the starratings also showed that, broadly, comedy fans get what they pay for, with a steady increase in quality with ticket price. However, the most expensive shows – over £15 – underperform; while those on the Five Pound Fringe punch marginally above their weight.

Here is the chart of average star rating against top ticket price:

Although free shows were the least favourably reviewed, with an average rating of 2.97 stars they only attracted one per cent fewer stars than shows charging between £5 and £7.50. This was also the first year a free show received an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination, with Imran Yusuf at the Laughing Horse’s Espionage venue.

Chortle’s results also crown the Pleasance as the best venue for comedy, beating Assembly by the narrowest of margins. The venue tops the Chortle chart showing which venues have the best-performing shows, with an average score of 3.49.

The figures, which we will now be releasing every year. suggest shows on the PBH Free Fringe are better than many at paid-for venues.

And although there may be little dividing men and women on the comedy front, it would appear that female journalists are more sympathetic reviewers. Of the nine main critics, the top five are female.

The average scores given by each reviewer are Marissa Burgess (3.41), Corry Shaw (3.38) Julia Chamberlain (3.36), Cara Sandys (3.33), Jay Richardson (3.23) Steve Bennett (3.19), Nione Meakin (3.14), Julian Hall (2.95), Jason Stone (2.25). Though Jason’s score would expected to be lower as his brief was to seek out acts with little or no previous profile.

The Fringe was Chortle's most successful yet, with 184,907 unique users over the past 28 days – up a massive 19.5 per cent on the same period last year.

The analysis of our results did not take into account one-off shows, or the zero-star given when a comedian walked out. Venues where we saw fewer than five shows are not included in the chart.

Published: 31 Aug 2010

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