Gary Flockhart: Comedians v Critics are not playing for laughs

IT’S not the biggest event on the Fringe, but in some ways it’s the one I most look forward to.

The annual Amnesty International Critics versus Comedians football match has been a lot of fun to take part in in the past, and I’m down to play again this year.

Last year, the pen proved mightier than the gag as we scribes trounced the jokers 7-3, after which Mark Watson, who captained the comics, admitted that losing was “a bitter blow.”

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I was lucky enough to score a hat-trick in that game and I’m hoping to find the net again on Sunday, when the teams square up again at the Meadows, with a 1pm kick-off.

I was speaking about it to Daniel Sloss the other night, and the young comedian joked that he’ll have one of his players break my legs if I even so much as think of scoring another treble.

Cheeky chappie that he is, he also predicted a comfortable win for the comics this year.

Unlike Daniel, I’m not renowned for my witty one-liners, so I was quite pleased with myself after telling comedy’s ‘half-man-half-Xbox’ that he should stick to playing FIFA 12.

Banter apart, there is a more serious side to this annual match-up.

Last year, both teams played in shirts bearing the slogan ‘Free the UAE 5’ - a reference to Amnesty’s campaign for five online activists detained in the UAE and charged with ‘insulting officials’ after calling for democracy and criticising the government.

This time, the focus turns to Burma’s forgotten prisoners, including jailed human rights activist U Myint Aye, arrested four years ago after providing aid to survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

If you’re coming along on Sunday, please sign the petition to demand his immediate and unconditional release.