This weekend is the Glastonbury festival, or as it is now known the MiddleClasstonbury festival.

Once it was a festival for everyone, but over the years it has become increasing exclusive.

Glastonbury Festival

With its big high tech fence, and expensive tickets, £200 for the weekend, it has become the preserve of the better off.

If you want proof; this year Hunter Boot makers did a marketing stunt, where they gave away free Wellies to some lucky punters.

Hunter Boots Original

A company who sells wellington boots costing between £65 and £265 for a pair has identified Glastonbury’s well-heeled punters as their target market.

I’m tempted to say that the bare footed hippies of the original festival in 1970 would be appalled, but these are their grandchildren so they are probably relieved that they are sensibly dressed.

But it is not just the festival goers who are from privileged backgrounds, it’s the bands.

This year one of the headline acts, Mumford and Sons are all public school boys.



I only hope they have the honesty to do a cover version of ETON RIFLES.

But Mumford and Sons are not alone in being posh boys.

Posh Rock is clearly very popular; in 2010 it was estimated that 60% of acts in the charts had attended public school, compared to just 1% in the 1990s.

Mumford & Sons.

Lily Allen.

Chris Martin.

Florence Welch.

Laura Marling.

Will Young.

Pixie Lott.

All attended private school.

And that’s just the names that I could find with a 2 minute Google search.

I wonder what’s going on behind the scenes where all the moving and shaking and money making goes on?

Want to be a pop star?

If Mummy and Daddy can afford your private music lessons, and there is a state of the art recording studio at your school, all you have to do is think of a catchy name and work on your hair style.

This same trend is happening in comedy.

A quick scan thru this years Edinburgh Fringe Brochure and you will see loads of acts who don’t actually make their living from doing comedy, but who have used some of Daddy’s money to have a jolly old time in Edinburgh playing “make believe” comedy.

I don’t mean up and coming comedians playing the ethical, or free venues.

I mean amateur comedians playing big rooms with posters everywhere, PR and thousands of pounds worth of promotion.

It is like one of those tailor made experience holidays; You get to act like a comedian, and tell people that you are a comedian, without actually having to go thru all the years of doing the things that actually qualify you to call yourself a comedian.

Fantasy island

Fantasy Island, but in Scotland.

Without the midget, but with the midges.

All you need is a trust fund or rich parents to pay for it all.

Daddy is pleased that his little darling is having a lovely time doing their comedy hobby, and the £10,000 that it costs to pretend to be a comedian for a month is actually cheaper than sending them off to Meribel skiing for the season.

(I expect that you don’t have to look far to find people who did both this year).

Of course there are exceptions to this, but for every working class comedian slogging away in their bedroom trying to learn how to write jokes, there is a rich kid simply hiring the best comedy writers to put together a great set for them. (You can’t blame the writers for selling their jokes to the highest bidder, I have done it myself).

Now I have nothing against rich people doing comedy or music, but what has happened to all the working class kids with something to say?

Without the financial backing, how can they hope to be seen?

Flyers litter

When the well off can simply buy success.

Or at least buy enough hype and advertising to get the industry’s attention.

Big posters

(These big posters cost hundreds of pounds each. I bet Jimmy Carr claimed his back against his tax).

Picture this, an up and coming young comedian with a family, works full time during the day, and does comedy at night.

How can they afford the thousands of pounds involved in taking a show up to the fringe, how can they ask their boss for a month off work and expect to have a job waiting for them in September.

All this is reducing the size of the pool of creative people that our music and comedy is coming from.

Not very talented but with money to spend, the worlds your lobster.

Talented but not well off, not much chance.

If Richie Rich has a bad Fringe, the bill gets picked up for him and he goes off and plays at doing something else.

If Joe Bloggs has a bad Fringe, he loses his house, has to take on an extra job to pay off his debt, not very constructive to producing good comedy.

This sounds extreme but both of these scenarios have happened.

There are many full time successful professional comedians who simply cannot afford to take a show up to Edinburgh even though they have great ideas, and are great acts, they just can’t afford the money needed to compete.

Of course the very good working class comedians will be able to battle thru, to be able to get on TV, and make enough money so that they can pay writers and expensive publicists.

Just as the very intelligent child can excel regardless of the postcode they were born in, the really talented can rise to the top.

But research has show pupils who attended private schools and attained only average, or below average grades always did better than even good students from state schools

The averagely talented comedian or musician with money to spend can reach a much higher level than if they were less well off.

Money can pave the way to success better than hard work and talent.

Money talks…its also tells jokes and plays the guitar.


By the way, If you are a comedian or musician reading this, and want to find out where you stand, simply listen to Pulp’s song Common People and decide which one of the two characters in that song is closest to you.


Another unfortunate similarly that comedy has with the music industry is that during the Edinburgh Fringe a great many of the big venues are effectively PAY TO PLAY, the acts are charged such extortionate fees for room hire, and promotion that even if they sell out every night they can’t actually make any money.

How many people can afford to work for a month for free?

No worse than that, work harder than normal for a month, and end up in so much debt that you will have to spend the rest of the year trying to pay it off.

Someone is making a lot of money out of Edinburgh, and it’s not the majority of the acts.

Fringe crowds

There are of course a few lucky comedians who get selected to play at ethical venues like The Stand Comedy Club, one of very few venues outside of the Free Festival where acts don’t have to remortgage their houses to get the chance to perform.

The Stand programmes its line up, rather than following the model of the big venues of selling performance space to anyone who can afford it.

I would ask any punters going to Edinburgh to support the venues that support the acts, and avoid the venues that act as parasites to the acts, sucking away at their finances and killing their chances of creativity.

monkey backl

I expect that by next year Glastonbury will be rebranded as The Harrods Glastonbury Festival ™, and be featured in Tatler, with live fox hunting and a Polo tournament!

Princes Harry and William will fly in by private helicopter.

Fuck it by the time William’s new baby is a teenager they will probably be in the band headlining the show.

Diamond Jubilee - Buckingham Palace Concert


And the joke will be on us for paying for it!









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