That Michael McIntyre chap has come in for some criticism in the last 24 hours over a warm up show he has booked in at the Edinburgh Playhouse on the first weekend of this year’s Fringe.
The show, a test run for material that the telly stand-up star plans to tour in the Autumn, will visit the big Edinburgh venue just as this year’s Fringe is getting up and running, though it isn’t officially part of the festival. It’s one of a number of warm up performances taking place around the country.
Although it’s not uncommon for stand-ups to try out new material before embarking on major tours, few book into venues the size of Edinburgh’s 3000 capacity Playhouse for such shows, and few get away with charging over £30 a ticket. Then again, McIntyre isn’t your average stand-up, and his recent commercial success has arguably taken comedy into a whole new territory.
But online criticism of McIntyre’s Edinburgh warm ups, led by an opinion piece by The List’s Brian Donaldson, has focused less on the ticket price, and more on the dates of the Edinburgh warm up shows, 5 and 6 Aug. That’s a key weekend for Fringe comedy shows as they try to pull in a local audience to help start build a buzz, and many fear that if 6000 local comedy fans are distracted by McIntyre’s practice sessions, that could have an impact on early ticket sales for the new guys.
Donaldson notes that “the situation where big-name comics invade the Fringe has long been a source of tension”, pointing out that Jimmy Carr’s annual visit to the festival to do a few big shows at the Conference Centre divides opinion, some seeing it as giving Edinburgh’s comedy festival prestige, others arguing it takes punters away from newer comics.
Of course McIntyre can do whatever he likes – and will probably sell plenty of his rather pricey preview tickets – but some reckon that, as an act who built his early profile via the Edinburgh Fringe, he perhaps owes it to the next generation to not nick their audience on day one of the festival.