Fringe council member quits over publicity stunt

Comedian Gareth Morinan is unhappy at Fringe guide advert prices
Comedian Gareth Morinan is unhappy at Fringe guide advert prices
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A LEADING member of the Fringe Participants Council who failed to see the funny side of a controversial publicity stunt has quit her position, the Evening News can reveal.

Marlene Zwickler walked out on the council following a row with a fellow member.

She took umbrage with comedian Gareth Morinan after he took out 11 ­separate listings in this year’s glossy Fringe brochure, to make a point about the costs involved in bringing a show to the ­Festival.

Zwickler, however, is said to have become very angry, claiming Morinan has made a ­mockery of the council – which acts as a voice for performers – and sees people appointed to its panel for two-year spells.

She said: “I have no problem with people pulling publicity stunts, but I do think that if you are sitting on a participants’ council that has a stated aim to support and guide the Fringe and its participants and to improve their experiences over the future years – that comes with a sort of moral compact to act with the Fringe’s interests at heart.

“I felt that my position on this and the respect I hold for my other committee members would be compromised if I stayed, so I have resigned.”

Comedian Morinan, who has performed at the Fringe since 2008, joined the advisory body two years ago.

The 27-year-old Londoner believes acts don’t get a fair deal and that more should be done to ease the financial burden on performers.

He said: “It costs £1100 to take out a quarter-page advert in the brochure, and 12 show listings can fit on a page. Rather than having one listing for 22 dates, I’ve paid just under £900 for 11 limited run listings, getting more space for less money. This isn’t something everyone can do – my show is free and non-ticketed, so there won’t be problems for people booking.

“But my main aim, as well as getting a little free publicity, was to make a point about cost-effectiveness and how expensive it can be to get noticed among so many other events.”

Gareth claims he has repeatedly raised the problem of the financial burden involved in bringing a show to the Fringe during his time on the council.

He said: “It’s especially hard for comedians – when you ­perform alone you have no-one to split costs with.

“I was surprised another council member resigned over my little stunt, saying what I’d done was not in the ‘interests’ of the Fringe. The Fringe is all about pushing boundaries to make a point and doing silly and unusual things for ­publicity.”

Marlene Zwickler runs award-winning management and production company MZA Artists, which represents top comedians such as Craig Hill and Daniel Sloss.