Wednesday 6 July 2005
Miles Kington: G8 has all the elements to be a Fringe success
They have a hit on their hands. I think this G8 Summit will be touring the world indefinitely for years to come
And I think I know what all those people are doing at this very moment. They are looking at the newspapers or the TV news, and studying reports of the G8 Summit in Edinburgh, and they are saying: "How did these guys get everything so right? Here is a show which has never gone to Edinburgh before and they have got everything right on their first visit!"
They certainly have.
One of the first things that any Fringe show must attempt to do is create controversy. There must be an element of nudity or sex or drugs or a whiff of some kind of wickedness - cruelty and suffering are always good - which will get the authorities agitated and thinking about banning it. As soon as a show is said to be running the risk of being banned, it will sell out. If all this can provoke protests in the street, so much the better.
By this yardstick, the G8 Summit has done better than any Fringe show in history. There have been shows in the past which got the Edinburgh City Council very worried, but I cannot remember one which had angry crowds in the streets being held back by the police. And the clever thing is that it is not the fuddy duddy old councillors that the G8 Summit has enraged - it is the young people! That was a brilliant master stroke, to antagonise the very people which you might think a Fringe show would want to appeal to.
The G8 Summit has also got all the reviews it can cope with, all the publicity and all the coverage. And this it has achieved partly by obeying another rule of Fringe success: get a big name on board.
This never used to be the case. In the old days of the Fringe you went to Edinburgh unknown and hoped to come back a star. In these days, however, it is quite common for comedians to hit Edinburgh after they have made it big, and coin it in, and it is also becoming more common to get star names in straight acting roles. Last year, there was an all-star production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in Edinburgh which transferred to London, and although I can't remember any of the names of the stars involved, mostly because I had never heard of any of them, the principle was good.
Well, this G8 Summit has got big names in droves. All the top performers are there with their own acts, and their own catchphrases. Legendary American comedian GWBush with his own particular take on the English language, his catchphrase "We are winning in Iraq", and his hilarious act in which he attempts to prove that global warming is not taking place. Top British performer Tony Blair, who likes to use his catchphrase: "I am not sorry that I toppled Saddam Hussein", in answer to any question, even though he did not actually topple Saddam Hussein. These and other big names are all on stage together. Success guaranteed.
The only thing they may have got wrong is the venue. Traditionally, a show does best in Edinburgh if it is near the centre and accessible. No matter how good a show is, it is never easy to thrive on the outskirts, and experts think that Gleneagles Hotel, more than 30 miles away, may be just a little too far from the population centres to pull in the crowds.
No matter. The show has got everything else. Publicity, coverage, controversy, protest and a memorable catchline ( "Make Poverty History"). There have been calls for this G8 Summit to be the last, to wrap everything up now, to solve the problems of the world on the spot. I think they would be crazy. They have got a hit on their hands. I think this G8 Summit will be touring the world indefinitely for years to come.
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