Previous ‘joke of the Fringe’ winners reveal memories of Edinburgh Fringe and thoughts on Covid-19 impact in special video content series

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Previous ‘joke of the Fringe’ winners have revealed their thoughts about the effect of Covid-19 on comedy - and best memories of the Edinburgh Fringe - in a special new series celebrating the history of the competition.

TV channel Dave has collaborated with some of the country’s favourite comics for the video series which celebrates 14 years of Dave’s Joke of the Fringe.

The annual competition, which reveals the funniest joke of the Fringe as voted for by the British public, has been cancelled for a second year in a row due to the pandemic and a much reduced Fringe festival which has operated at 10 percent its usual capacity this year.

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Previous winners Nick Helm and Tim Vine spoke about the effect the pandemic has had on comedy.

Tim Vine speaks in Dave's new video content series.Tim Vine speaks in Dave's new video content series.
Tim Vine speaks in Dave's new video content series.

Nick Helm revealed how negative living through the pandemic had been because of the inability to do comedy gigs. He also said Zoom gigs are “terrible” and praised comedians who had the bravery to commit to shows in car parks. Ken Cheng, best joke winner in 2017 admitted he “hated gigging” so Covid-19 “stopping all his gigs was fine.”

Nick called on comedians to be “more creative” to avoid 3,000 shows on the pandemic next year, believing that next year’s Edinburgh will be “absolutely incredible.” When discussing the return of live audiences in recent weeks, Tim said how he had the pleasure to return to gigs recently but had not missed them during lockdown. Tongue-in-cheek, he added he would probably have been just as happy running a shop that sold Meccano.

The comedy stars answered a series of questions about the Fringe itself. Adele Cliff celebrated how Edinburgh is the best opportunity for comedians to get together and show what they have been working on, and championed how anyone can “go wild” and come and see more comedy than they could anywhere else.

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Darren Walsh discussed how Edinburgh is a proving ground for comedians, and that the Fringe brought about a mixture of dread and excitement. Ken Cheng echoed this by saying that the Fringe is simultaneously the “best and worst thing about doing comedy.”

Tim added that there is something about Edinburgh that “keeps drawing him back,” but reflected on how comedians in the middle of the Fringe sometimes wonder why they do carry on committing to it every year.

Other areas explored in the video series looked at what winning Joke of the Fringe meant to the winners and what makes an award-winning joke. Nick Helm’s touching tribute to his father’s joke inspiration makes for a wonderful watch as he reveals that 2011, when he won Dave’s Joke of the Fringe, was one of the best years of his life.

Tim Vine also tells a very funny story about how Queen guitarist Brian May ended up on stage with him for one of his shows.

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Olaf Falafel, most recent winner of Dave’s Joke of the Fringe in 2019 revealed how he loves a bit of misdirection when telling a joke, but that an actual preferred joke of his was when he came ninth in Dave’s Joke of the Fringe in 2017.

 Cherie Cunningham, Dave channel director, said: “With no Fringe Festival in 2020, and a Fringe at 10 percent 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.”

Comedy critic Bruce Dessau, said: “Comedy has suffered enormously in the past 18 months, and to see these comedians’ thoughts and views on the Fringe and the Covid-19 pandemic provides a fascinating insight into how much comedy, the Edinburgh Fringe and Dave’s Joke of the Fringe matters.”

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To view the full video content series, please download HERE.

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