At the Edinburgh Fringe last night, I had a brief chat with Kate Copstick, doyenne of Fringe comedy critics.
Next week, Monday-Friday, I am chairing a chat show – So It Goes – John Fleming’s Comedy Blog Chat Show – at the Fringe.
First guest on Monday will be Arthur Smith; last guest on Friday will be Adrienne Truscott, possibly the most talked-about act at this year’s Fringe.
More details on my website.
Kate Copstick will be on the show daily with her shows-to-see tips and her always forthright views on Fringe people.
Copstick is nothing if not forthright.
And it can sometimes get her into trouble.
“Apparently I’m getting incredible hate male on Yahoo,” she told me last night. “I’m quite excited, really.
“The first day I arrived in Edinburgh, I did an interview with Russell Kane on this Fringe in 5 thing on Yahoo – little five minute chunks of interview, mainly with famous comedians. It’s still online.
“I got a call from Avalon (the comedy management company) saying it had all gone a bit crazy. Most of the interviews were getting around what David Baddiel got – 15,000 views – but the interview they’d done with me had got 100,000.
“I thought Oooh, lovely, but couldn’t remember what I’d said. We’d gone way over, with me yacking on forever but, apparently, the problem was things I’d said about Sarah Millican. All hell had broken loose, on account of the ‘sisterhood’ getting their tampons in a twist.
“I couldn’t remember what I’d said, but it was a throwaway remark.
“Avalon called me back in to do another Fringe in 5 and Emily Dean, the girl who’s with Russell, said she was quite offended and “tens of thousands” of women had been equally offended “on behalf of other women”. Not just women in comedy, but women in general. Though especially women in comedy.
“Apparently I had said something like Oh, if Sarah Millican wasn’t a Geordie, she’d just be told to go away, lose some weight and come back when she was funny.
“Self-evidently, that’s just a daft, off-the-cuff remark. I mean, she’s not even really fat. She’s really not – she’s little and cuddly.
“But apparently the problem was that I’d dared to mention something physical about a woman in comedy. Apparently you’re not allowed to.
“You’re not allowed to say – I don’t know – presumably anything… Big, Blonde, Fat, Thin, Old, whatever.
“I was Wow! What? This is just…”
I started to say to Copstick: “Of all the offensive things you’ve said to…”
“Absolutely!” she interrupted. “Of all the offensive things I’ve said… And Emily Dean said to me Do you want to apologise for it?
“And I said, Well, no…
“Obviously and genuinely, if I thought for one second that Sarah Millican was in a corner crying, I would apologise wholeheartedly to her… But I’m not going to apologise to the bloody sisterhood in general for, in principle, transgressing the unwritten laws of irritating women.
“It’s crazy!… I got really very pissed-off with the oestrogen-raddled, pathetic small-mindedness of it all.
“I half thought about deliberately including highly personal comments about everybody I review now.
“Oddly enough, I’d just written a review about a comedian called Bobby Mair, who is clearly the heir to Doug Stanhope. I said the first thing that strikes you as he walks on stage is you can immediately hear, in your mind’s ear, the theme tune of Duelling Banjos, cos that’s what he looks like. I said he looked like an unmade bed.
“It’s just ridiculous… It’s unbelievably irritating… What else can’t we say?… Can you not say any woman comedian is shit?… I do have a little more, but I won’t say it on a recording. Apparently…”
And then I switched off my iPhone recorder.
But she may be less reticent on my chat show next week…
The Edinburgh Fringe is all about promotion.