Judging A Comedy Award Is No Laughing Matter

Jokes about racism, porn, cystitis... you get all sorts on the Fringe. But how do you spot the next big thing in stand-up? Alice Jones, a judge on this year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards panel, explains

In the past 17 days I have watched 71 stand-up shows. That's 71 hours of comedy in just over two weeks - more than most sane people would see in a year, perhaps a lifetime. I have watched someone in a pig's head miming one-liners, a man singing songs on a cross-trainer and a woman polishing off a story about her ex by eating a light bulb. I have sat stony-faced through superhero sketch shows and fallen off my stool laughing at a mime of someone kicking a football. I have listened to stories about porn addiction and grandmothers, racism and dinner parties, true love and break-ups, cystitis and skywriting. I have watched one whole hour of ventriloquism. And I have seen a lot of flesh. Too much flesh. The comedy striptease is the new mother-in-law joke. I think I'm up to five now. Certainly enough that by the time I walked into the back room of a bookshop on Sunday night and was greeted by a woman wearing a denim jacket, a blonde wig and nothing, not a stitch, below the waist, I didn't even blink.