Crowdfunded Edinburgh Fringe project shows comics in new light

Dom Joly hit by

a custard pie.
Dom Joly hit by a custard pie.
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The creator of a new book featuring never-before-seen images of the world’s top comedians in their early days at the Edinburgh Fringe is hopeful of securing funding by the time this year’s festival kicks off.

“25 years of shooting comedians” features more than 100 candid portraits of performers at the event captured by photographer Rich Hardcastle, including the likes of Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg and Eddie Izzard.

The project – which is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter – also includes stories from each comic pictured, some of which have never appeared in print before.

Mr Hardcastle is hoping to receive enough financial backing to produce an initial run of copies and is aiming to meet the £32,000 target by 21 July to do so.

He said: “When I started out back in 1992, I was at Edinburgh College of Art and I was desperate to photograph celebrities.

“At that point, every picture of a comedian was them doing something ‘wacky’ and I hated that, but the more I got to know comics, I realised they were basically frustrated rock stars.

“At that time, comedy wasn’t as big as it is now. There were no arena tours, everything was done in little back rooms or pubs, there was something very punk about it and I wanted my pictures to reflect that.

“It was just recently I was trawling back through a lot of old negatives and I thought ‘no one has ever done something like this before or since’.”

Images featured in the project include portraits of a young Michael McIntyre as well as backstage shots of the likes of Jo Brand, Phil Jupitus and Sean Hughes at the famous Gilded Balloon venue.

An image of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan holding an owl and a mouse was later picked up by the National Portrait Gallery for their permanent collection.

The book also features a foreword by Gervais and an interview with Mr Hardcastle conducted by Australian comic and presenter of Channel Four’s The Last Leg, Adam Hills.

Mr Hardcastle revealed that funding the project through Kickstarter allowed him to have more control over the content without having to sacrifice his best work.

“Over the past 25 years I’ve produced enough to fill two books” he said.

“But funding it through Kickstarter allows me to do it the way I wanted. I could’ve got a publisher because this is something that has never been done before, but at the same time I wanted this to be high quality without having to compromise on what I consider to be my best.”