Reviewers by Michael Porter
A title that can – depending on their credibility – make or break a entertainer’s career; in this case, comedy.
The moment an act hears that a reviewer is coming to their show a big shadow of doubt suddenly clouds their judgment and they find themselves questioning wether or not they are good enough in this stranger’s eyes.
Which is fine, a good review is not a bad thing to add to the CV, however, I don’t think it’s worth the stress to accommodate a reviewer any differently than you would anyone else.
I find that somewhat insulting to the rest of the audience that paid to see you.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of a reviewer. As a comedian I think it’s quite the compliment for someone to see an interesting topic/angle or personality in the art that’s worth writing about. It’s a great way to advertise comedy to the public, provided it’s a fair trial – so to speak.
My problem with reviewers is they act a lot like entertainers.
The bigger their ego gets the more unbearable they become.
With this new-found status they start to write from their own personal point of view – which is a topic long debated by comedians.
I always thought that fairness was essential in reviewing. Whilst I don’t agree with personal preference, I do understand that everyone has a personal preference.
For example: if a comic has a great gig to a full room and storms it (did very well), surely a reviewer should point that out, even if it wasn’t his kind of comedy. Is that not fair, unbiased?
But we all know that’s not what happens. They label the show a bad performance with poor material, et cetera.
I mean, who reviews the reviewers?
Why did they get into reviewing?
Do most reviewers have wives, girlfriends?
Do they live alone or maybe in caves?
Do they only come out in August and descend on Edinburgh in their thousands with their pitch forks and fire?
They only eat raw meat?
Are they cannibals?
Do they hate their lives and want to project their pain onto others, or do they just need a hug?
Seriously though, why comedy?
A lot of these writers show great skill. Why not use this depth and insight to write about things that matter?
Stick to journalism or set up a website with more purpose.
Write about politics or world peace.
Write a leaflet for a church… write about yourself!
The simple truth is that reviewers always start off with good intentions but once they get a reputation they abuse the power of their pen (the conservatives of comedy).
They set up websites then recruit teenagers (that haven’t got the life skills to write about themselves never mind comedy) for man power and launch themselves into various comedy festivals.
Any idiot can see that this sort of thing won’t end well.
There are some good sites out there that have spent years building reputations and credibility but for the most part all I see is writers talking nonsense.
I think the new wave of reviewers are nothing more than comedians/musicians/actors… minus the talent.
Like some promoters, they wish they had the skills to do what comedians do but can’t so they hang around comedy circles or clichés to satisfy their craving for the same attention that we desire on stage.
Just like every bad comedian, they think putting on a funny I’m with Stupid T-Shirt will make them part of the group.
Maybe in a way that makes them a lot like comedians, they have the same emotional insecurity that we do and writing is their way of overcoming that.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m right, regardless of the similarities we differ in the way that we deal with the outcome.
For example: most comedians just want to make people laugh by bringing just a little bit of happiness to an audience; whereas writers just want to look for reasons not to laugh.
I’ve seen many in clubs over the years with their tweed jackets, finely-combed hair.
I have a part in my set were I sing, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, the moment I spot a reviewer, I sing it to them.
It’s my way of showing that he may be a dick but everyone deserves a chance.
One thing’s for sure: when a comedian leaves a good gig there is a room full of happy people looking to get the pints in. I wonder how many people buy critics a pint?