Arse market

Yes, sorry about that title. It’s a callback to Comedy Countdown, where the letters A, R, S and E came up, randomly, twice, so I asked for them to be pre-selected for the last round so that I, too, could make up a word with ARSE in it. (We’d had ARSEBILGE, for instance.) Up to that point I had been foolishly coming up with words that were real, and didn’t have ARSE in them.

A truly superb photo above by Green Gordon, taken at the Green Room Venue yesterday. Rather sad and poignant. Just as it would be if me and the comedian and man Richard Herring were sitting in the chairs.

I had my second review for Secret Dancing today. Again, it is not yet online, so I can’t link to it, and I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to actually type it out. It’s three stars in The Scotsman, and I think I am right in saying that Fiona Shepherd, who wrote it, also reviewed Lloyd Cole Knew My Father favourably in 2001. Because I came up here with modest ambitions, I am thrilled skinny by three stars, while three stars is like a broadsword in the heart to someone with previous form like, say, Richard Herring.

Clearly, being reviewed for stand-up is new for me. But I have had my books reviewed using the reductive star system, and the difference between four and three, or three and two, can be devastating – especially on Amazon, where your book’s star rating is a constant mean average, and one dissatisfied customer can bring your score down, thus literally acting as a sales-deterrent. In many ways, customer reviews are more democratic, and you get a better snapshot of the way your work is being received. They are also more cruel, as a really dissatisfied customer is more likely to feel moved to add their voice than someone who just quite liked your book.

At least with a star rating delivered from on high by a critic, even though it lingers next to your listing on their website, potentially acting as a box office repellent, it’s the opinion of one person. An opinion you can ignore if it is wrong, and stick on your poster if it is correct, like Fiona Shepherd’s. Veteran performers at Edinburgh as emotionally ruined as Richard Herring claim to be immune to the injustice of a bad review, but they are patently not.

Perhaps there should be a handicap system based upon years of service. For every five years you’ve been up here, a star is automatically added to any review. And for ten years, two stars. That would be fair.

If I were to review Christ On A Bike, which I can’t as I am too close to the spectre of its creator and star, I would give it five stars. We are all for sale in the Arse Market.