this is an article from 2015Ham Fist Award: The Shortlist!

ham-fist-award-500The shortlist has been announced for the Ham Fist Award, the inaugural FringePig panel prize for the Fringe reviewer who most misunderstood what they were looking at.

Sadly, the standard of reviewing this year has been much better than in the last two years. Once reliably bad publications such as Three Weeks and Broadway Baby showed a dispiriting degree of professionalism this year and both seemed to have hired a sub-editor.

We couldn’t find a single review this year that had misunderstood a show’s purpose in its entirety (although there were a couple where we suspected such but couldn’t conclusively say). In the past there has always been two or three of these.

However there were reviewers who misunderstood what their job was, and what a review is for, or why they had been put on Earth. So we have made up a shortlist of these.

Please help us decide by VOTING for the reviewer and reviewee you think best encapsulates the ethos of poor reviewing. The reviewee will win £200. The reviewer will get £50 to spend on books about comedy, or towards retraining as something better than a reviewer, like a gym assistant or an estate agent.

There is also ONE MORE PLACE on the shortlist for a late entry. The winner will be announced by Bob The Badger Slayer at one of his venues, whichever one has burned down the least by then, on Saturday, August 29! (more to come on this. Find out first by following our tweets.)

To vote, tweet @fringepig or contact me, Mr Kipper, via






PUBLICATION: The List (print)

REVIEWEE: Stuart Goldsmith

PANEL COMMENTS: There are good reviews, and then there are hagiographies. Graeme Connelly’s adoring critique of Stuart Goldsmith is just such: “Without even moving, Goldsmith emanates energy constantly. When he does move around, the eyes of the crowd follow him unblinking. He has a deep talent for keeping the audience’s attention the whole time, slipping effortlessly from one routine into another and never losing a beat.” Not just that but “Goldsmith is relentless, with one-liners and clever quips accompanying every carefully crafted anecdote… tapping into his generation exactly”. We were all about to follow Stuart into Paradise but then saw he’d only got three stars. THREE! Hahahahahaha!



PUBLICATION: Chortle (web)

REVIEWEE: Bobby Mair

PANEL COMMENTS: We’ve all heard of reviewers turning up to review the comedy who end up reviewing the soundtrack, or the costumes, or the justification of having a Powerpoint display. But when Bobby Mair tried to broadcast his Fringe shows to a wider audience via the Periscope app, Chortle’s Paul Fleckney was there (actually he was sitting half a mile away) ro review Mr Mair’s internet connection. Or it may be the Gilded Balloon’s internet connection. Anyway the internet connection was not very good at all and will have to buck its ideas up if it intends to tour (three stars).



PUBLICATION: Mumble Comedy (web)

REVIEWEE: Lieven Scheire

PANEL COMMENTS: This is a nice one in that the reviewer gave the act five stars, but in the most self-indulgent and badly-written way imaginable. Mark is proud of the transcendental quality of his reviews and, indeed, it is hard to imagine that he was really there. However we’ve grown to like Mumble reviewers a bit, as every other review site this year was disappointingly cogent. Also, when you call them ‘illiterate’ they send you books of poetry they’ve written about magic people having wars.



PUBLICATION: One4review (web)

REVIEWEE: The Beau Zeaux, An Improvised Comedy

PANEL COMMENTS: We are used to introspection and humility from the people at One4review – a review site which, refreshingly, seems to apologise for speaking every time it reviews anything. This by Laura (FringePig gives everyone who works at One4review the surname ‘Geoff’ because they are essentially children of the editor, Geoff) reaches new depths of self-questioning. This is ‘review as an expression of crippling doubt’, and is quite beautiful.



PUBLICATION: British Theatre Guide (web)

REVIEWEE: Joseph Morpurgo

PANEL COMMENTS: A lovely review from someone who has no idea what he is looking at and feels no shame in admitting it. “It is always difficult to write a review when you are part of an audience most of whom find a comedy show hilarious while you cannot understand why anyone is laughing,” he says. “Always”. So this happens a lot. Despite being at a clear disadvantage, Fisher gamely tries to explain what is going on in a show that frightens and confuses him. It’s a gem.