Once upon a time, Time Out ruled London and New York and then gradually began to wrap its tentacles around the rest of the world. Then the internet happened, and everyone realised there was a million ways of finding out what’s going on without having to know about EVERYTHING that’s going on.
In any case, Time Out’s relevance to comedy fell off a cliff long before it became a freesheet: the number of nights on offer in the capital became so numerous that it stopped printing them all after Malcolm Hay retired. Thus what was once a great resource for open spots looking for promoters to pester became another shortlist of barnstormers and big name touring shows.
Time Out has never had any clout in Scotland anyway, where The List fills that anachronistic niche. Nevertheless, it sends a couple of comedy buffs north each year to see some stuff and clatter out a few paragraphs so that Londoners know what they’re missing. That is, if they haven’t already seen it as a preview, and can’t wait to be bothered by it when it ships up at the Soho Theatre shouting about what a massive hit it was according to FringeBiscuit. Time Out reviewers (Ben Williams and Jonny Ensall in 2013) aren’t half bad in terms of acuity and observation. It’s a shame they missed the golden age of journalism, and that – as far as London is concerned – stuff going on in Edinburgh may soon just be stuff going on in a foreign country. And we all know how interested Londoners are about that.