Arthur Smith - 'No reviewers in unless they can juggle kippers'

This article is from 2010.

Arthur Smith - 'No reviewers in unless they can juggle kippers'

We send comic and expert juggler Stuart Goldsmith to take him up on the offer

Arthur Smith banned all reviewers to his show unless they agreed to juggle kippers. Comic Stuart Goldsmith used to be a street performer. That involved lots of juggling. We thought it might be a laugh for the twain to meet

Arthur Smith is the funniest and most honest comic of his generation, and has no need for reviews or critics. He nobly decided to ban them from his performances in the Pleasance Courtyard but, in the spirit of charity and goodwill, let there be a single exception: any critic who could juggle three kippers onstage would be entitled to print a review.

I am that critic.

Well, I was for an hour. The cunning people at The List asked me to have a stab at it, knowing that half a life street-performing at the Edinburgh Fringe stood me in good stead. I waited in the wings, kippers quietly stinking beside me, as Arthur welcomed Leonard Cohen for a surprise cameo. I breathed through my sleeve during a performance by The Segue Sisters, the funniest and most honest comic singers of their generation. While Arthur read witty and disarming passages from his autobiography My Name is Daphne Fairfax, I tore open the packets containing my honking props.

As an ex-circus school student, for me the kippers held no fear. I’ve juggled most things in my time: balls, clubs, burning torches, machetes, bottles, cannonballs. What had I to fear from mere fish? Well, the fact that they were very … flappy, for one. And wet. And upon rotation would partially disintegrate, spraying fishy butter into the audience.

But I stood firm in front of a fantastic backdrop created by Ali Day, the funniest and most honest stage manager of her generation, took a deep breath and went for it. And I bloody nailed it. I’d forgotten I enjoyed juggling that much. Little time for it nowadays, what with my new career as a stand-up comic, but I’m pleased to say that Arthur is as much of an inspiration on that front as he is in his devilish pursuit of the love of mischief.

Arthur Smith’s Cobbled Up Shambles, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 4.30pm, £10–£11.50 (£8.50–£10.50)

Stuart Goldsmith (the funniest and most honest comic of his generation), Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 7.30pm, £8–£9.50 (£7–£8.50). Extra show: 28 Aug, 10.45pm, £9.50.

Stuart Goldsmith: The Reasonable Man

  • 4 stars

Despite being from Leamington Spa, Stuart has spent his whole life desperately trying to be interesting. It sort of worked. This is the story of what happened when he tried to be himself instead... A white-knuckle, high-octane meander through the worlds of sex, circus and subculture. A glorious stand-up debut from a nice…

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