ONE of Britain’s biggest comedians has revealed he almost staged a free show at this year’s festival - but was over-ruled by his manager.
Frank Skinner told The Scotsman he considered the move after witnessing the huge influence the “Free Fringe” movement had triggered in Edinburgh in recent years.
A free show scooped the most prestigious comedy award on the Fringe for the first time this weekend, with winner John Kearns also become the first comic to graduate from the best newcomer award in the space of just 12 months.
Skinner was asked to present the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award, along with last year’s winner, Bridget Christie, having won the then Perrier Award himself in 1991.
Skinner, who ended up appearing at Assembly’s George Square Theatre, was making a Fringe comeback with a full Fringe run after a seven-year break from the festival.
Skinner said: “When I’m in Edinburgh and not doing a stand-up show I feel like a bit of a phoney.
“If you’re going to come here you’ve got to suffer with everyone else. You have to do the whole thing. I didn’t even have any nights off, I did 24 straight nights.
“You get to an age where you have to prove yourself - it’s a bit like the old guy in the gym who is still going when everyone else has stopped.
“The Fringe has changed so much since the late 1980s. There were only about 50 shows and you could see them all in the space of three weeks.
“The Free Fringe has changed things massively, but I don’t think we know how much yet. I actually thought about doing it this year, but my manager was not keen.
“But I think more and more people are probably going to feel pressured into doing the Free Fringe. People at the less well-known end of the Fringe feel that if a punter is looking at a choice between two comedians that they’ve never heard of, it’s pretty obvious which way they’re going to go.”