Opinion: To Do Britain's Got Talent Or Not To Do Britain's Got Talent? That Seems To Be The Question For Comedians

Maybe it’s just the motley bunch of comics I hang out with on Facebook but this year’s Britain’s Got Talent has become a major talking point online. 

Opinions vary from mockery to support via outright contempt for comics selling out and doing their ruthlessly edited hard-learnt schtick in front of Simon Cowell and co in return for a shot at mainstream fame. 

There had been comics on the show before but the sea change was probably Daliso Chaponda going on it last year and coming third. That was when comedians doing the ITV show as a career move took off and became respectable.

Judging by my FB threads it is easier to list the comics who haven’t been approached to appear on the show than it is to list the ones that have been contacted. Plenty have presumably turned the programme down. For some agreeing to audition feels like their dirty little secret, though at least one comic has confessed on FB that he tried, got edited to ribbons and didn't make the cut.

Some comics presumably resist the urge to be assessed by Amanda Holden. They are worried that it might taint their brand, some have been concerned that they will have to tone down their act. In his semi final appearance Robert White (pictured) mentioned that he had been asked to change his routine for the programme. Maybe the producers knew best - he got into the final.

Because after all this is television and not a live comedy competition in the Leicester Square Theatre, like Old Comedian of the Year, taking place there on Sunday, June 3. David Walliams has plenty of experience of the comedy circuit/scene but the other judges don’t. Some laptop critics have asked what gives Simon Cowell the right to judge stand-ups - the fact that he seemed bemused rather than amused by comic Micky P Kerr’s reference to bags for life maybe strengthened that argument. 

But, have I mentioned this? This is a TV programme, not the Edinburgh Fringe's presitigious Comedy Awards. And furthermore it’s not Live at the Apollo either. It's showbiz. They are not trying to replicate the live comedy experience. At least I assume not. If they are they are doing a pretty shoddy job if it. But it is still a showcase for performers, not a pact with Satan.

I’m not 100% defending Britain’s Got Talent, I fucking hate it when the audience screams, but I'm trying to see all sides. Presumably they are setting out to make a television programme people want to watch. Sometimes it can be lowest common denominator stuff, but if it is giving primetime airtime to talented people like Lost Voice Guy, Micky P Kerr, Nick Page, Mandy Muden, Noel James or Robert White – who I last saw playing a tiny half-full room in Edinburgh less than a year ago – good for them. And good luck to the comics. This really could be the year one of them wins it. 


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