Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No stars, just love*^

This post is about star rating systems and why, if they're the only thing people look at (which is too often the case) they are nonsense, useless, unhelpful and should be struck off the list of acceptable ways to interact with comedy festival shows. Yep, 'paying too much attention to stars' can join 'jumping on stage to attempt to make out with the comedian', 'taking a poo on the table' and 'not laughing at all, not even once' on the list of audience faux pas. Actually, taking a poo on the table can go on life faux pas too. Unless you're a baby. Or just really into that. In which case you should still make sure it's on your own table or you've asked permission first. 

Digression. Apologies. Deep breath. Back on track:

"But why get rid of stars?!", you wail, "Why would you want to get rid of something that is so easy to understand and let's me make an instantaneous judgement on the value of a show?". Well, underling, here's why: you should be smarter than that. For the following reasons (unlike star ratings, bulleted lists are easy and excellent).

  • Reason 1: They don't actually mean anything. That's right, you heard it here first folks. Star ratings don't actually mean a show is good or bad. They just don't. Think about it. There are so many ways to make people laugh, and so many varibles in what makes one person laugh at something and another tutt tutt and purse their lips that five little stars on their lonesome couldn't possible tell you if you'll find a show funny. What does one star mean? That the reviewer laughed for only 1/5 of the show? Or that the entire audience only laughed for 1/5? One fifth of your average 60 minute show, incidentally is 12 minutes (mad mathz skillz). Now if I laughed solidly, heartily and with my belly involved for 12 minutes of a show I wouldn't necessarily think that was a bad thing. So does one star mean that you only laugh for only six minutes and that also it was a sloppy show or they did something particularly offensive. But what causes one person offense is another person's comedy gold. And yes, yes, you could get around this by getting to know your reviewer by reading everything they've ever written and cross-checking it against your own opinions, but who's got the time?! Certainly not me, I've got mixed netball to play. So my thinking is, if the review is the bit you should pay attention to why even bother with the stars.
  • Reason 2: Lots of stars are easy to get. In a way. What I mean is that there are so many people and blogs and newspapers and magazines reviewing that, like Mario, you're almost bound to collect some from somewhere.  If you flip through the guide you've got impressive stars (4.5 and 5) from the following (reputable and not so reputable) outlets:
    • The Herald Sun (who also pay certain cretinous columnists who not only doesn't like refugees or Indigenous Australians but apparently has a problem with Oprah. Oprah! Do you really trust them?)
    • The Age
    • The Scotsman
    • Adelaide Advertiser [insert obligatory 'Adelaide is boring and crap' joke here]
    • The Independent
    • British Comedy Guide
    • RHUM
    • ThreeWeeks
    • Monday Magazine
    • Uptown Magazine
    • The Times
    • The List
    • The Guardian
    • Canberra Times
    • The West Australian
    • Metro
    • Scotsgay
    • The Pun
    • Venue Magazine
    • The Funny Tonne
    • Hollywood Fringe Festival
    • London Times
    • Chortle
    • The Mirror
    • Time Out
    • Sunday Times
    • Fest Mag
  • I can't think of any more reasons right now and two isn't really that many so if you think of any please let me know. Then I will add it and claim your idea as my own, mmkay? Kay good. 
Now that you've read my (bulletproof bulleted) argument I'm sure you'll be ignoring stars and instead devouring all of the reviews (and information about reviewers) before you see your shows. Or talking to friends who've seen shows. Or you might read this blog, which will faithfully stick to the no star rating system, (I did briefly consider a LOLCAT rating system but got distracted by this LOLCAT before the system could be developed) and follow me around little baby duck. Don't do that. I'm easily rattled. Really. Please stop even thinking it. I'm a paranoid hypochondriac so I'd think you were stalking me and that the air was giving me cancer. Seriously. Don't. Oh shit. What is that pain in the middle of my chest slightly to the right side? 

Well. That was informative. According to SilkDragon on WrongDiagnosis.com I've got heart disease. And you should always trust the first entry that comes up when you google 'ride side chest pain female'. With this very bad news upon me I feel I should offer you some sage advice. Advice is always much more likely to be true if it's coming from a dying person, you know. So hear this: 

When you want to go and have a bit of a laff, you can read reviews, or listen to your friends, or look at rubbish oustanding blogs before you part with your cash. Or you could just look at the poster and guide entry and take a flippin' punt on what looks good to you. And just go and have fun and be ready to laugh. That's what I'm going to do this year anyway. Which is why I'm going to see something called 'Sexytime!'. The rule about pooing may not apply here. 

'Til the festival, if I make it that far


*I would like to thank one Katy Perry and her hit (as in hit me over the head for loving it so much) Teenage Dream for inspiration for the title of this post. That's right folks, she's not just a tackier version of Dita Von Teese and Russell Brans's missus. She's so much more than that. Singer, Dancer, Muse.

^Obviously there is one glaring exception to the 'no stars on this blog' rule and that is to inform you about my delectable taste in music and the way it informs my writing. See above.

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