Our maverick reviewer <b>Barrie Morgan</b> talks to Kunt about the politics of penises. Views do not necessarily reflect those of The Skinny. Strong language from the start. Cocks may go up as well as down….

Feature by Barrie Morgan | 25 Aug 2011
  • Cockgate

Haven't heard of 'Cockgate'? Well, pull up a fucking pew.

At the start of their run in The Hive as part of The Laughing Horse's Free Festival, Kunt and The Gang handed out a few hundred comic schlong stickers. He asked people to put them on a few posters "for a laugh".

What happened next was quite surprising and forced more people than you can imagine to stand up and take notice. £50 well spent, it seems. Or was it?

Writing an article about the most talked about event of the Fringe 2011, I had many thoughts, and many possible angles: Should I explain my evening spent at The Hive with Bob Slayer, Kate "Loves the Cock" Copstick, Ian Fox and Kunt himself? Should I discuss the polarisation between the corporate Fringe and the free Fringe? Should I get quotes from all angles? Is the cock placed directly slap-bang in the middle of Daniel Sloss's face a 'social commentary' as one comedian so elegantly put it? Should I find out what the council actually thought about the whole escapade? Most importantly though, should I address the topic or the issues raised by the topic?

I choose none of the above.

It seems that people will always have their own hidden agenda when it comes to events such as this, so I decided to take a step back. I want to ignore all the numerous (and often hilarious) quotes I gathered in the past few days about 'Cockgate', ignore all the hyperbole, ignore all the different angles and directions this particular cock could go and just give you the story. Straight from the horse’s mouth, because, let's face it, it's funnier this way.

The Skinny: How have you found the reaction? Are you surprised about the effect of the stickers?

Kunt: I honestly can’t see what all the fuss is about. Some members of the public stick a few crudely drawn cock stickers on some posters of comedians. It’s hardly a Nazi war crime is it?! It was just meant to be a bit of fun and it never dawned on me, coming into a comedy festival as an outsider that has never gigged on the comedy circuit, that there would be comedians who couldn’t laugh at a picture of themselves with a crudely drawn cock stuck on it!

TS: Do you feel like a scapegoat for the underlying politics?

K: I only got the cock stickers made up for a bit of a laugh but it seems that they have sparked a bit of debate about the advertising budgets of the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have-nots’ and the ‘I don’t give a fucks’. Hopefully this will not end up with some big joyless company trying to make an example of us, but rather with my cocks inadvertently opening up the floor and acting as the tweezers to help people pluck that awkward ingrowing pube before it goes too septic.

TS: How do you plan to pay any fines that might be sent your way? Do you think you should be fined?

K: We got sent an invoice from one promoter for £900 threatening that we should pay it quickly and discreetly or she would rally the other promoters against us. We’re on the Free Fringe for Christ’s sake, we haven’t got £9, let alone £900! Rest assured if they want us to pay any fines we will be doing it as loudly and indiscreetly as possible!

It’s ridiculous really. No-one is going to see a poster with a cock stuck on it and say, “I’m not going to see that show because now I associate that person with a crudely drawn cock, which I find offensive.” If anything the cocks are drawing attention to the posters because in most cases they are pointing towards the performer.

TS: Are you worried or hoping that people from other shows market with stickers next year? Won't Edinburgh be full of posters with different stickers then? Tommy at The Stand thinks the posters are an eyesore anyway; do you agree?

K: I can see Tommy’s point, I don’t think a few crudely drawn cocks are any more of an eyesore than the poster sites are already. It’s nothing you can’t see in half the school textbooks in the country, daubed on the Queen as a peer bends over in front of her, or scrawled on Gerard Depardieu’s nose. No one has been specifically targeted or picked on or anything inferred, this was just the public voting with their cocks! Russell Kane even sportingly said he finds it funny, and to be fair the poster of him open-mouthed looks like it has had a cock photoshopped out of it.

TS: How do you think the Laughing Horse's Free Festival fits into the Fringe as a whole?

K: You hear about shows at the big four venues 'haemorrhaging money', which is a phrase I’ve never heard from anyone on the Free Fringe. It feels like we’re out on the fringe of the big venues, and are doing things in the punk tradition, which is exciting.

TS: What's the plan for next year then?

K: I’m going to have 10,000 stickers made of that pornographic picture of Lorraine Kelly from when she was younger. It’ll be fantastic watching the Fringe punters walking round furtively trying to hide a lob on.


So there you have it. His words, uncut, unedited, no spin. Take it or leave it. Keeping within the theme of punk comedy, this piece is way longer than it should be. You may quote the irate PR person that shouted at Bob Slayer if you wish, "You'll never work in comedy again". And I'll reply as he did, "I have hardly worked in comedy now so this threat changes nothing!"


Ian Fox's Cockgate Gallery