The festival is in full swing with audiences crammed into comedy clubs. But is our global pandemic the elephant in the room?
Comedian Sam Nicoresti starts his show with an elaborate sanitising ritual. Alex MacKeith kicks off with a number about lockdown with his dad: “One whole year,” he sings, appalled, “with one whole man.” Jacob Hawley apologises in advance for his in-yer-face opening gambit: “How many of you pussies have been vaccinated?” There’s no avoiding Covid-19 on the fringe this year – even as, at time of writing, the festival runs smoothly and largely infection-free. Covid cancellations are at a minimum, and everyone hopes – if we tiptoe – we might get to the end without the virus, that sworn foe of festivals everywhere, breaking out again.
This is the same virus that confronted us, after all, with what just two years ago seemed unthinkable: a fringe-free summer. When the following year only a radically slimmed-down event was possible amid ongoing Covid anxiety, many of us wondered whether the uncontainable highlight of our year, the world’s biggest arts festival and the event around which the UK’s live comedy calendar is constructed, would ever rise again. That’s the context in which many of us this year are experiencing a pinch-yourself fringe. Are we allowed to do this again? Are the crowds here in sufficient number to make it worthwhile? And – did somebody just cough?
Read the original article at The Guardian