Wednesday, August 21, 2013

That joke isn't funny anymore

Maybe it's just me, but the ten jokes identified as the funniest of this year's Edinburgh Fringe barely raised a chuckle. Not a patch on previous years. Perhaps the inclusion of #2 despite the fact it's been doing the rounds in various incarnations for a long time is understandable when you consider that it was TV channel Dave that organised the vote...


skif said...

I can't stand the Dave award, regardless of the quality of the one-liners.

They are robbed of all their context, and stand-up is all about the 'performance' as much as the written, especially in Edinburgh when you're looking for something that bit 'different'. You can't sum that up in one-line. It totally misrepresents what the Fringe is all about.

You might as well have a one-liner competition at any time of the year. Seems to me thats what comics use Twitter for anyway, and Edinburgh is the opoprtunity for most comics - dyed in the wool one-liner merchants aside - to flesh something bigger or different to a standard 'club' set.

Plus a written Tim Vine joke isn't half as funny as that same joke told by Tim Vine. I think Frank Carson had some remarks in this area.

Also I don't imagine Dave send a panel of people to ALL the shows, as with the 'proper' award, so it all seems a bit arbritrary really.

Ben said...

The lack of context is a valid point, but one-liners do stand up out of context better than other comic material.

Delivery and timing - performance, basically - are indeed key. A Tim Vine joke written down might raise a smirk, but have me nearly falling off my chair when performed by the man himself.

Fair point about Dave's coverage of the shows. The nature of the award also means that comedians who simply don't do one-liners will never be overlooked, perhaps giving the impression that comedians are (or even should be) nothing but gag merchants.

I'm intrigued by your point about special Edinburgh sets, though. While this is certainly true of the likes of Richard Herring, who will develop a show, road-test bits of it and then unveil it properly at the festival before going on to tour it elsewhere. But for comedians whose material is predominantly one-liners (Stewart Francis, Tim Vine et al) I don't think they really do such things as shows - just perform a different (new) set of jokes. I've seen Milton Jones a couple of times and while his shows have had titles, this has seemed to be more out of necessity than to reflect some sort of coherence of content/theme, which was as random and incoherent (if hilarious) as usual.

Ben said...

Sorry, that should have been '... will always be overlooked...'

skif said...

Yes, it's a different thing for one-liner guys, which is probably why I don't seek out those fellas at Edinburgh so much.

I have seen Vine and Jones in Edinburgh over the years but it's never felt like a 'festival experience'.

The award is a publicity tool for Dave. That is its purpose. To be fair to them, every year it seems to work.