Edinburgh Festival Day 11: Festival eye

'IF Oliver Cromwell had known that a pair of tits could bring down the monarchy,' quips comedian Mark Thomas, 'it would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.'

Thomas's Fergie joke is, surprisingly, a rarity among the Fringe comedy shows. The Fergie affair could have been like a bone to a dog, but rather than chew on it, comedians have mostly decided to bury it.

Aren't they starring a joke-book in the mouth? 'I do a short routine about how good it is for our classless society that Fergie's getting her kit off in public - and wouldn't it be great if all the Royals, the Queen Mum for example, started doing it. But,' says comedian Kevin Day, explaining the lack of Fergie banter, 'the prevailing mood is that there are more important things to think about.' This is a view echoed by comic poet John Hegley, who holds the whole subject in contempt. 'I'm glad no one's interested in such trivia,' he says.

Alan Davies believes the reason lies in the nature of the story. 'Everyone knows all the details,' he says. 'Last year there were at least four or five different angles from which to approach the Russian coup. Here there's Fergie, a bald bloke, and some pictures. But,' he adds with relish, 'I think the Diana thing might get more coverage. I love the idea of this couple who don't have a television, sitting in the garden listening to their neighbours' phone calls. Now there are two royal stories, I hope people will start to compare them.'

THE nominations for this year's Perrier award, which goes to the best comedy show, were announced yesterday. They are: Jo Brand, Steve Coogan with John Thompson, Bruce Morton, John Shuttleworth, Mark Thomas. The winner will be announced on Saturday at midnight.

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