First, the background.
Kate Copstick, doyenne of Edinburgh Fringe reviewers, has written criticism for The Scotsman newspaper for more years than I dare mention. She was also a judge on last year’s ITV1 series Show Me The Funny and, since 2007, has been one of the judges for the annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards which I allegedly organise.
As normal, she will be co-presenting the awards during a 10-minute section of the 2-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award Show, part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival in Edinburgh this August… 100% of all profits (ie what audience members throw in a bucket at the end of the show) will go to Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity. There will be no deductions.
There are now three annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards:
– The Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality
– The Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best stunt publicising a Fringe show
– The Malcolm Hardee ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award
As I mentioned in a recent blog, the most problematic of these has usually been the Cunning Stunt Award.
Most years, there has initially seemed to be a dearth of contenders though, most years, an obvious contender has emerged. However, this is not “most years”.
Stuart Goldsmith, whose show Prick was ridiculously censored as Pr!ick in the Edinburgh Fringe Programme, reacted by shooting a YouTube video in which he says he will donate £1,000 of his own money to the Waverley Care HIV charity, but will deduct £100 from this every time a critic uses a pun on the word “prick” in their review.
“What’s most important to you?” Stuart asked the critics: “Looking a little bit clever? Or saving a life?”
Comic Caimh McDonnell took the opposite approach. He said he would pay £100 for every review published by 20th August, offering to spend up to £3,000 “rather than blow it on a costly publicity campaign”.
The point is that PR men and women can cost an arm and a leg. And the Edinburgh Fringe is being taken over by the Big Names with big money behind them.
Now Kate Copstick tells me: “Far be it from me to stop comics coming up with hilarious and ingenious ideas for publicity (just put them in your show, chaps – many shows could do with a bit more hilarity and ingenuity) but I have just got the go-ahead from The Scotsman to tell you that I am:
1. not reviewing anything in a venue of over 500 seats as I do not consider them real Fringe venues and
2. I will be reviewing as many non PR’d shows as I physically can this August.
“To this end,” Copstick says, “if any performer has a show with no PR at all and fears they might get overlooked, my personal email address is email@example.com – feel free to send me the pitch for your show. But be aware I am not a very generous person and star ratings can go down as well as up.”
Copstick is the most influential comedy critic at the Edinburgh Fringe.
As the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards has no paid-for PR, I should point out again – the two-hour long Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show hosted by Miss Behave – with awards presented by Kate Copstick and acts including Charlie Chuck and The Greatest Show on Legs (performing the naked balloon dance) – is at The Counting House on Friday 24th August, 2300-0100.
Copstick will not be reviewing it because she’s in it. If you are in Edinburgh, you should come along and see her on the show. It’s free.
If you are a good act without PR people, you should contact her. That, too, is free.
Little else at the increasingly-commercialised Edinburgh Fringe is…