Shortcom.co.uk was set up to encourage and gather short comedy films from enthusiastic amateurs and screen them for appreciative audiences. In the process it hopes to raise money for suicide and mental health charities. So far so splendid.
When we first looked at Shortcom in 2013, the reviews were very much bolted onto the side of the main site. They seemed to derive from a separate wordpress site, with a different design on a different server. Shortcom honcho Chris Aitken did the lion’s share of the reviewing alongside Stuart Addison.
Three years later all this has changed; Shortcom is now one of the handsomest and most intuitive review sites on the Fringe. And they reviewed a lot of stuff last year. It’s clear that they’re taking the Fringe, and comedy in particular, quite seriously. Because they’re seeing their preferred stuff, and probably paying for some of it, they’re far more appreciative of it than all the other notebook freeloaders. They mark high, and their reviews maintain a blog-like, here-to-make-friends quality.
The reviewing style is often a bit retro; reminiscent of early 1990s NME when it decided that it was going to review music by talking about everything except the music. So there’s a fair bit of ‘reviewer’s quest’ stuff going on, plus a tendency toward minimilast profundity: “But is it art? Yes. Yes it is”. Is this pretentious? Yes. Yes, possibly. But the people on this site are so well-intentioned that it’s difficult not to let them off. They will spare most people’s blushes: if you get three stars off Shortcom then you need to give yourself a stern talking to because it probably means you were shit. You need to actually throw your own faeces at the crowd to get anything less from them. There are some hard-bitten Fringe scabs who will ask if such beneficence can be trusted. Well, read between the lines. The writing is solid enough that you can ignore the stars if you want.
Shortcom is no longer a two-bit hobby review site. It may just get noticed and quoted from soon. The question mark that hangs over it like a… well, like a fucking great 20-tonne question mark made from reinforced concrete… is why? Why review comedy if your primary purpose is to make pithy bits of cinema? This is still a cinema hobbyist’s website with standup reviews on it for no urgent reason. Shortcom hasn’t yet found a way to stuff these two cats into one raison d’etre.
I’m sure if they volunteered to film shows for that damned Amused Moose prize that takes all the fun out of the Fringe comic’s first three days, they’d find the short cut to all our hearts.