...I chose at random Frank Chickens, the Japanese female performance art duo, as an example of possibly worthy winners who would not get a look in under this illogical and unfair voting system, and the Twitter world has adopted them as a cause. This was never my intention, and I was drunk when I sent the e-mail in a fit of annoyance anyway, but they are now leading the field, and it appears we should embrace them.The thing is, being roughly the same age as Mr Lee, I do remember Frank Chickens, and while they might not have been my first choice, they are clearly far more amusing than the bland, gittish likes of McIntyre and Howard. So I voted for them. But in doing so, was I actually subverting the poll, or just adding one more page-view’s-worth of credibility to the whole sorry process, and by some weird collision of digital technology and marketing voodoo, making one dull, Australian lager brand appear to be marginally less horrid than another? If Lee hadn’t sent his original drunken diatribe, I probably wouldn’t even have been aware of the poll, and would just have sighed and shrugged when it was announced that McIntyre is the best thing to have come out of Edinburgh since Burke and Hare. Then again, my contempt for the Foster’s effort has been edged aside by another poll, the results of which suggest that the greatest comedy double act of always and forever is Horne and Corden. Although maybe that, in its own vile way, is more subversive than voting for Frank Chickens.
In any case the Foster’s poll only works if you believe the Fringe is defined by the Awards, which is as absurd as the idea that Edinburgh is defined by the Fringe. (Some people believe that it disappears between September and July, like Brigadoon.) Despite the hundreds of thousands of people there, it’s a deliciously solipsistic experience, with each individual creating a remembered Fringe unique and perfect to himself or herself. I had to check on Wikipedia to see who’d won the Perrier in the years when I was there, but I had no trouble in placing the custard doughnuts and chips with salt-an’-sauce, flyers, Bill Hicks in a tent, telling an American tourist that the Scott Monument was named after Terry Scott, flyers, the guy doing a one-man show about King Saul who needed thirty prompts, flyers, Archaos stopping the traffic, sleeping on the floor, gatecrashing the Fringe Parade and hassling Arden and Frost because they were drinking the wrong lager, that Scotsman review (“...unbelievably atrocious”), the rain, putting the review in the flyers, Jerry Sadowitz not getting served in the bar at the Pleasance and that night in 1993 that Margi Clarke got so annoyed with one persistent heckler that after the gig she went out and poured a pint of lager over the wrong woman. Which is the Fringe only as it is through my tired eyes, but is surely more Fringey than Michael McIntyre.
That said, if you’ve never been, and you really want to know what it’s like, listen to this.
PS: Kazuko Hohki of Frank Chickens responds to the brouhaha: “It’s like someone talking about who won the Derby. I don’t care. I am not a comedian.”