Comedians share thoughts on pandemic in video to mark Fringe joke award

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Comedians have shared their thoughts about the pandemic’s impact on comedy in a video celebrating a festival joke award.

Previous winners of Dave’s Joke of the Fringe said that, while lockdown has been “very negative” for some as people could not do gigs, it also encouraged performers to be more creative to engage with audiences.

The annual competition, which recognises the funniest joke of the fringe as voted for by members of the public, has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is taking place this year but with a much smaller number of performances than before Covid emerged, featuring around 700 in-person and online shows, compared with more than 3,800 in 2019.

Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2016 – London
Nick Helm praised comedians who did gigs in car parks (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Nick Helm said the last year has been challenging for comedians.

He said: “While you’re living through it it’s been very negative because you can’t do gigs and Zoom gigs are terrible. I didn’t do any gigs in a car park but they sounded like the best out of a bad situation, so well done to everyone that did them.”

He added: “I think the next full Edinburgh that goes ahead is going to be incredible. I think everyone is going to really think about something interesting because no-one wants 3,000 shows about the pandemic and being in lockdown so I think everyone is going to be really creative.”

Masai Graham said: “Last year would have been my 10th year in a row so it was really weird not having Edinburgh. It’s like a part of me, so it was like a part of me that was missing, that whole buzz in that month. I missed the Fringe so much last year.”

He added: “Gigs weren’t the same with social distancing and screens which block out the sound; it’s just not the same atmosphere as having everyone sat together with raucous laughter.”

However, Adele Cliff said the pandemic has “made people be a bit more creative”, while Olaf Falafel said it has “made a lot of people branch out and move into different areas and really rethink about comedy and about life in general”.

Masai Graham
Masai Graham said he really missed last year’s Fringe (Jane Barlow/PA)

Tim Vine said: “Hopefully Edinburgh 2022 will be more like the Edinburgh we know and there will be 3,000 shows or whatever, back to normal, and I shall be there, hopefully. I’ve got everything crossed.”

The Fringe festival runs until August 30.

Clips from the video, which also features Darren Walsh and Ken Cheg, will be shown on Dave’s social media channels, while the full video will appear on on Dave’s YouTube in coming days.

Dave channel director Cherie Cunningham said “With no Fringe Festival in 2020, and a Fringe at 10% of usual capacity this year, we still wanted to commemorate Dave’s Joke of the Fringe award in some way.

“We are delighted at all the amazing comedians who have shared their Edinburgh experiences and reflected on the past 18 months for this video.

“We cannot wait for next year – the 75th Edinburgh Fringe Festival – when Dave’s Joke of the Fringe will be back bigger than ever before.”

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