Producing The Real Variety Show

A big part of a JLAers role is to keep a look out for new entertainers – and a main aim of our annual Real Variety Show is to show off precisely this.

This is my 5th year of producing the show and after a few months of London based live nights, festival previews and comedy research, I’ve just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe and a whirlwind scouting trip. I’ve seen magic, standup, musical comedy, music, dance, circus acts and discussions trying to prise out acts suitable (and up for) being a or comedian, and those who fit in to the corporate environment. I’m exhausted… I have queued in the rain, failed to get in twice, witnessed a terrible death, tried to keep an open mind, heard a lot of the same jokes, and collected a lot of flyers. My bag weighs a ton.

All that said, Edinburgh is addictive – an incredible global display of artistic prowess and variety. The buzz around hot new names is really exciting (and often means no chance of a space in their shows) and then finally seeing a perfectly crafted comedy hour is your reward. Listening to Jimmy Carr speak on a panel this weekend he said coming to Edinburgh now, as an established name, was like visiting your old secondary school. Watching the new names create a name for themselves was like looking back at himself.

So, JLA are charged with a toughy in scouting for the Real Variety Show – who is going to be the next Tim Minchin or Michael McIntyre? Who will actually want to take on corporate work and stick to the rules for a comedian? Who is hilarious, fresh, edgy and of course safe…. See, told you, a toughy.

I think it comes down to enjoyment and ‘gut feeling’ (without sounding completely wanky). If someone makes a cynical JLAer laugh (and I mean really belly laugh) then we are on to a winner – we are a tough crowd after all. A comedian can be THE talking point of an event but not everyone is suitable. It’s our job to advise on who is and Edinburgh and the year round research we do all builds on the ‘new’ names we use in the year ahead. 

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