'It's a money-making mafia' | Comics complain of comedy industry's failings

'It's a money-making mafia'

Comics complain of comedy industry's failings

The Fringe wouldn’t be the Fringe without comedians complaining about the state of the industry.

Now several of them have lined up to slam the comedy world for being too politically correct.

Their views align with the producers of the Establishment Club, the TV show based on the comedy club founded by Peter Cook and now fronted by Keith Allen and Victor Lewis Smith.

Programme-makers were in Edinburgh this week to film 18 comedians for their show, which will air on controversial Moscow-backed broadcaster RT  later this year.

Dominic Holland, back at the Fringe after a long hiatus, complained that the comedy industry had an ‘agenda’ to find the next big thing based on demographics.

The white male comic, who won the Perrier best newcomer in 1993, said: ‘Comedy is all about "are you funny?". I don’t care where you’re from, how old you are, what colour you are, what you do in the bedroom, it should only be about if you’re funny.

‘I think comedy’s in a pretty parlous state, because I think now there’s a complete agenda from the media to promote people who aren’t necessarily funny.

In contrast, Ashley Storrie said the scene was already too posh, Anglo-centric, and male.

‘A lot of people come here, with their spikey hair, from England, like "oh yeah, there I was, wanking with my mum watching’: there’s a million of you.

‘There’s stuff that [young women] are really scared of, and nobody ever talks about because it’s ‘like, icky’, or weird, and I’d like to say, "it’s OK, I’ve done it, it’s fine, don’t worry about it’. I’d like to be that for somebody.’

Chris McGlade, pictured, the Middlesborough stand-up who has been praised for his raw, avowedly non-PC stand-up, tore into the commercialisation of the Fringe saying: ‘For me, the Edinburgh Fringe is just a fucking money-making mafia. It promotes and pushes the fortunes of a handful – maybe a dozen tops – of comedians who they want to have on TV and everything else.

‘You won’t see one working men’s club comedian telling jokes in that old, working men’s club style that appeals to something like 33 million working class people.’

Rosie Jones claimed that out that overly PC audiences made it harder for her to gain acceptance as a disabled comedian: ‘When I come on I kind of shock the audience because they are majoritively PC, and they go "Ooooooh it’s a disabled lady, we should laugh at her because I’m feeling really awkward."

When The Establishment Club’s television adaptation was announced, Keith Allen said: ‘The comedy circuit is in desperate need of a cattleprod in the bollocks, and to then be slapped about a bit with a fetid badger cadaver, just to make sure it’s fully alert.’

The Establishment Club’s roadshow, seeking performers for the RT show, hits Manchester next Wednesday and Newcastle on September 6.

Here’s the footage of the comedians. Ironically, given it's an ‘edgy’ show, the swearing has been bleeped out:

Published: 26 Aug 2017

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