The press have it in for me! I'm convinced of it. Folks, I have a stonking great show at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, and it's not my fault if the audience doesn't get it! The reviews have been scathing, but what do they know? This is what I get for trying to do something different, for trying to knock down a few walls.

When I first came up with the idea for Rich Hall On Ice, people said: "Rich, it's crazy. Nobody wants to see stand-up on ice skates." But my mind was made up. I spent an entire year honing my skating techniques, practising the adagio movements, writing new material - and then I go to the Gilded Balloon and hey, there's no rink! As specified in my contract! Doesn't anybody read those things?

So now I'm clopping out onto the wooden stage of the Balloon every night in my ice skates and, I admit, maybe it's a little baffling to the audience. Also, the sequinned uni-tard is damned hot under those spotlights. Then there's the chorus of "Nice package!" cat-calls from the drunken yobbos at the front table. This is the kind of shit I have to put up with for being a pioneer.

Some people have been whingeing about the show's length, which is just over six hours. Folks, it's a lean, mean six hours. There's not an ounce of fat in that six hours! The show starts at midnight, it's over by sun- up. That's a lotta bang for the buck, if you ask me. Plus, my show has content. I hate these comedians who claim to be "political", then trot out a few lame one-liners about how ugly Virginia Bottomley is. First of all, I think Virginia Bottomley is gorgeous!

Secondly, I have something to say and I say it. For example: I talk about the duplicity of the Nepalese freedom fighters' ideologies compared to their post-romantic socialist agenda. Everyone knows they're just trying to take over the lucrative rattan trade! And the whole time I'm pointing this out, I'm executing a deft series of complicated pirouettes. What do I get from my audience? Fish faces! Folks, it's the Fringe Festival. How's about lettin' your hair down for a change?

Look, this is a dog-eat-dog festival. You live and die by the reviewer's hand. I'm not getting a fair share. It's not my fault, it's not even the fault of the reviews. There's about 8,000 shows running up here and everyone's time is stretched to the limit. But I'm not sure that some of the critics coming to see me are qualified to be judging comedy. Here's just a fistful of the notices I've received (so far), and if you ask me, they're a little tunnel-sighted.

"Leave it to the Americans to serve up a bland and tasteless serving of underdone tripe! Rich Hall's comedy casserole came in a dish that could only be described as chafing. Half-baked premises and a curdled delivery left a bitter after-taste in this critic's mouth. Here's my tip - keep 15 per cent of your material and forget the rest, bub, because the service and ambience were non-existent." Harold Cistern, Guardian (Food Critic).

"The perfect comedy looks like it hasn't been planned at all. It seems to spring up from the rich loam of creativity that gives nurture to its roots. Rich's garden of witsteria and laff-o-dils is far from perfect. Rather it is a tangled weed patch, its comedic growth blighted by an infestation of smut-worm, mildew and chuckle-rot. Six hours on stage? A judicious pruning might be in good order. C'mon Rich! Think 'hedge!' His smug delivery, like a floral bouquet delivered post-Valentine's, is dry and wilted. Forget-me-not? I think I will! Like a giant Sumatran flower at Kew Gardens, he should only open every 30 or 40 years because he stinks!" Sally Squamata, Gardening Monthly.

"A splendid performance! Rich Hall is adorable and a genius!" Virginia Bottomley, National Heritage Newsletter.

"DEATHS: Hall, Rich. Suddenly on stage, Edinburgh, August 9-31. The friends and family of Mr Hall wish to console all those who attended Mr Hall's show and sat with him during his protracted (six-hour) and debilitating decline on stage. His valiant fight to almost be funny serves as an inspiration to us all." The Scotsman, Obituaries page.

"American reject Rich Hall made a disappointing return to the comedy Oval last night, challenging the audience to one of the longest Tests in history. Spinning and bouncing wildly in the corridor of uncertainty, the audience seemed uniformly relieved when it was 'over'." Helmut Thitherton, Cricket News.

"Pyntlss nd cryppy. Pure shytt." Bala Cynwyd, Dyfed.

Like I said, what do they know? The bane of an artiste is never to be understood! S'cuse me. I gotta go lace up for my show.

Emmy Award-winning comedian Rich Hall is performing at the Gilded Ballon, to 31 Aug (0131-226 5138).

Thomas Sutcliffe returns next month.

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