Chatting last night to some comics in Edinburgh, and conversation turned – as it is obliged to do, according to ancient Scottish law – to the subject of reviews.
Not that we’ve had any yet, of course. The Fringe only formally began the day before yesterday. But we’re all discussing it nevertheless, fearing the worst while hoping for the best.
We all agreed that the chief value of a review lies in the quote – a snappy excerpt you can use the rest of the year round.
And we kept coming back to the idea of the ‘sneaky quote’. Using this disreputable method, a sentence like “His performance was adequate, and he seems competent enough – all he needs now is some genuinely brilliant material” is reduced to the phrase “genuinely brilliant material”. Much better, I’m sure you’ll agree. Clearer. More distinct. A blatant lie.
“She’s beautiful, talented and charming – in her own deluded mind.” I think you can guess what stays and what goes there.
Conversations like this are not fatalist, or unhappy, of course. These were all performers who deserve, and will doubtless get, all manner of critical praise.
This is about fending off a jinx – about warding off demons. It’s about making light of one of the many little things over which we have no control. Squashing a neurosis by laughing at it.
So, of course, I’d love a good, kind review or two. And I’ll need a Mars bar or six to recuperate from a bad one. But so long as it says something like “this idiot clearly imagines he’s a comic genius with the funniest show in Edinburgh…” – I’ll be absolutely fine.