EP 06 – Bruce Dessau – reviewer at the London Evening Standard & Founder of BeyondTheJoke.co.uk

Ask The Industry Podcast Comments

EP 06 – Bruce Dessau – reviewer at the London Evening Standard & Founder of BeyondTheJoke.co.uk


Total run time: 1 hour 34 minutes 30 seconds.

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About Bruce Dessau…

Bruce started writing at the NME reviewing bands and albums. He since has gone on to become a very respected arts and comedy critic at several publications including the Guardian and currently at the London Evening Standard.

On top of this he runs the comedy news site BeyondTheJoke.co.uk and has written several autobiographies of musicians and comedians (Reeves And Mortimer, Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson)  as well as Beyond A Joke.

Here are a list of the questions we covered…

Arts Critic – London Evening Standard…

  • I heard you got the job by pitching to review Stewart Lee’s book and they said no, but they employed you as an art critic? [4 mins 40 secs]
  • When you were pitching articles, what was the most effective way and does this method still work? [5 mins 37 secs]
  • What’s the best way of pitching an article to the London Evening Standard? [6 mins 20 secs]
  • What is the criteria for getting reviewed by the Evening Standard (and other papers)? [8 mins 20 secs]
  1. Jade Adams
  2. Funny Women Award
  • What do you think makes a good show? [23 mins 20 secs]
  • What do you think makes a 5-star show? [23 mins 20 secs]
  • What’s the difference between 4 and 5 stars? [23 mins 20 secs]
  1. Josie LongReview (London is Funny)
  2. Daniel Kitson
  • What do you make of the star rating system? [21 mins 25 secs]
  1. Chortle’s article on if we should get rid of stars.
  • Do you think we’d be better without the star rating system? [25 mins]
  • What do the different level of stars mean to you? [25 mins 38 secs]
  • Do you think competitions are valuable? Or do you think they create a shorthand for some audiences and reviewers who don’t want to go to gigs on the circuit? [11 mins 12 secs]
  • Is it easier to get coverage by asking to just be printed online? Is the space on the website as “unlimited” as it appears? [12 mins 18 secs]
  • In previous podcasts we’ve looked at what makes a good flyer/poster for a punter; what makes a good flyer/poster/email to attract you to come into my show? [35 mins 10 secs]
  • Bruce gives us a snapshot of what it’s like being a reviewer in Edinburgh [35 mins 10 secs]
  • If you give a complimentary ticket and the reviewer comes, but doesn’t review, should they have to pay for the ticket? [40 mins]
  • Do you go to comedy to learn or to laugh? Is being funny enough or do you want something else out of your experience? [58 mins 05 secs]
  • Does the price of an evening influence your review? [43 mins 54 secs]
  • What are your thoughts on people picking out quotes from your reviews? [48 mins 26 secs]
  • Have you noticed anyone taking your quotes out of context? What do you feel about this? How do you deal with it? [49 mins 13 secs]
  • You’ve said you see your role as an “unpaid director” and your reviews are like “directors notes”. Does that mean you write it in a way that allows quotes? [29 mins 49 secs] Or just constructive criticism? [26 mins 20 secs]
  • How would you define the audience of The Evening Standard? What shows are they interested in? [30 mins 59 secs]
  • Would you ever direct a show? [26 mins 20 secs]
  • Do you need an agent to approach the Evening Standard or will you take info from independent performers? [33 mins 00 secs]
  • Do you review the Free Fringe? [46 mins 58 secs]
  • Who are the other reviewers you admire / look up to / look out for? [50 mins 55 secs]
  • If I wanted to get you to come and watch my preview / show (not review). What’s the best way of getting you down? [54 mins 33 secs]
  • How often do you go and watch comedy for fun (not work)? Where do you like to go and watch? And do you provide acts with feedback if they ask for it? [58 mins 05 secs]
  • Can a performer opt out of getting a review if they believe the night wasn’t representative of the show / their skills? [1 hour 26 min 54 secs]
  • Will you review an online recording of a show? [1 hour 26 min 54 secs]
  1. Phil Taylor’s online show
  • What are your thoughts on arenas vs theatre vs pub gigs? [58 mins 05 secs]
  1. Al Murray
  2. Bill Bailey
  3. Stewart Lee
  4. Michael McIntyre
  • How much do you think a title sells a show in Edinburgh? [1 hour 16 min 56 secs]

Editor at BeyondTheJoke.co.uk…

  • Why did you start the website? [31 mins 45 secs]
  • How would someone get coverage on it? What are you looking for? [13 mins 01 secs]
  1. Beyond A Joke [the book]
  2. Rarely asked questions section
  • How would I get something published on your “opinions” section? Why is it different to Chortle Correspondence? [15 mins 44 secs]
  1. Tom Ward’s Article


  • What advice do you have to people who want to write a book in terms of getting published? [ 1 hour 21 min]
  1. Biography of Rowan Atkinson
  2. Biography of George Michael
  • What are your thoughts on crowdfunding? [1 hour 23 min 03 secs]
  1. David Quantick Podcast
  2. The Bluffers Guide
  • What advice do you have for people looking to approach an agent? [1 hour 22 min]
  • You write a book called “Beyond a Joke” about the dark side of comedy. Concluding strange people are attracted to comedy and comedy makes strange people. Can you define what you mean by “strange” and do you think one makes a better comedian? (ie do you think strange people who do comedy are funnier than a person who comedy has made strange?” [1 hour 18 min 03 secs]
  1. Beyond a joke book.


  • I read an interview with you by John Flemming where you said you were better at spotting music stars than comedy stars. Why is that? [1 hour 4 min 17 secs]
  1. U2
  2. Jimmy Carr
  3. Matt Lucas / David Williams / Little Britian
  • Who are your favourite comedians? [1 hour 1 min 15 secs]
  1. Josie Long
  2. Stewart Lee
  3. Daniel Kitson
  • Why some comedians make it and others don’t. [1 hours 2 mins 46 secs]
  • What do you think makes a star comedian? [ 1 hour 8 min 15 secs]
  1. John Bishop
  2. Micky Flanagan
  3. Michael McIntyre
  • How are “cult” or “non-mainstream” comedians made / successful? [1 hour 12 min 10 secs]
  1. Daniel Kitson
  2. Josie Long
  3. Jimmy Carr
  4. Bridget Christie
  5. Luisa Omielan
  6. [Julian Hall Podcast]
  • Book suggestions? [1 hour 23 min 49 secs]
  1. Julian Hall Podcast
  2. How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee
  3. Ruby Wax – Sane New World
  4. Kevin Bridges biography
  5. Omij Diliies biography

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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