Uber’s in-car stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe is the worst idea in the entire history of comedy

Andrew Maxwell entertains some Uber passengers. Image: Uber.

This morning, I was lucky enough to receive not one, not two, but three emails from the same PR company telling me about an exciting new show happening at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Likely knowing I’m such an enormous fan of the festival that made my life a living hell for five summers, I was more than happy to indulge them by reading the press release for what I soon discovered to be the worst idea for a Fringe show this year. This is not a feat that’s easily accomplished.

In partnership with Uber, the release said, otherwise absolutely fine comedian Andrew Maxwell will be performing twelve free 15-minute gigs in the back of an Uber. So, while you’re stuck in traffic in an over-congested city centre full of hundreds of thousands of tourists, you can listen to someone tell you topical jokes that were prepared solely to get money from this brand sponsorship.

This press release, as you may expect, is full of some precious gems and tactics that I’m shocked more PR companies aren’t attempting. Here are five of my favourites, which I’m sure will entice you into getting yourself a ticket to this capitalist charade.

There’s nowhere to hide from what will inevitably be a decidedly average bit of comedy

Let’s start with the actual concept of this show. It’s described as an “intimate” gig with Andrew Maxwell – a candidate for the last phrase I ever want used in relation to a comedy show, along with “four-hour” or “Jeff Dunham”.

That intimacy, it would also appear in the kindly attached photos, will be in the way of Maxwell, in some cases, sitting right next to you, without even the shield of the passenger seat to hide your dissatisfied, discomforted face.


The Regional Manager at Uber literally criticises his overworked, underpaid staff

As if Uber doesn’t shit on its employees enough, Alex Robertson, the company’s regional manager, was quoted in the press release as saying that “Lots of drivers who use our app like to think of themselves as comedians”. In other words, this is him saying, “I know you work hard for little money at a company that’s infamous for limiting its workers’ rights, but please, allow me to use you as the ass end of this joke, which is passive aggressively telling you to shut the fuck up.”

It’s worth noting too that he also refers to his staff as “drivers who use our app” rather than, say, “our drivers” or “the badly paid people who are, in fact, the only way this business can actually fucking run”.

The main press picture shows the Uber driver looking absolutely fucking miserable

Nothing screams, “We are kind to our staff, also please enjoy some hastily prepared jokes” like a photo of a man staring down the camera with a microphone labeled “COMEDY” and a gig-economy worker looking like he’d rather be sat in a literal pile of shit than be anywhere near this guy.

The show will be “cutting-edge observational comedy and acerbic social commentary, with the sights of the Scottish capital”

What better way to view Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument, and Greyfriars Bobby than with the backing track of someone screaming at you about Brexit and laughing at wailing bagpipes into an inexplicable microphone – you’re all in the back of the same fucking car – for a quarter of an hour.  

The one joke, the ONLY JOKE, they’ve included from Andrew Maxwell is pathetically shit

I hope you’re sitting down (as Andrew will be about to tell you!) for this bit of humour that’s meant to sell you on this already deeply uninviting, unsettling comedy set:

“Andrew Maxwell said: ‘The Uber Comedy Car gigs will be just like my stand-up, except, of course, I will be sat down.’”

TWO TIME EDINBURGH AWARD NOMINEE. LIVE AT THE APOLLO. HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU.

Thank you, Andrew, and a bigger thank you, Andrew’s PR team who are presumably the dry, humourless people who decided to put the most shit bit known to man as the one joke to include in this press release. Thank you for this brilliant bit of comedy, the true nail in the coffin in the worst sell for a Fringe show I’ve seen this year.

So, if you’re in Edinburgh over the next three days, you can get yourself a free ticket (honestly, imagine the fucking cheek if they charged) to one of the twelve gigs via the Uber app. And if you go, do tell Andrew Maxwell to thank his PR people who spammed me all morning for bringing this superb bit of comedy to my attention.

Sarah Manavis is digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
 
 

What’s killing northerners?

The Angel of the North. Image: Getty.

There is a stark disparity in wealth and health between people in the north and south of England, commonly referred to as England’s “north-south divide”. The causes of this inequality are complex; it’s influenced by the environment, jobs, migration and lifestyle factors – as well as the long-term political power imbalances, which have concentrated resources and investment in the south, especially in and around London.

Life expectancy is also lower in the north, mainly because the region is more deprived. But new analysis of national mortality data highlights a shockingly large mortality gap between young adults, aged 25 to 44, living in the north and south of England. This gap first emerged in the late 1990s, and seems to have been growing ever since.

In 1995, there were 2% more deaths among northerners aged 25 to 34 than southerners (in other words, 2% “excess mortality”). But by 2015, northerners in this age group were 29% more likely to die than their southern counterparts. Likewise, in the 35 to 44 age group, there was 3% difference in mortality between northerners and southerners in 1995. But by 2015, there were 49% more deaths among northerners than southerners in this age group.

Excess mortality in the north compared with south of England by age groups, from 1965 to 2015. Follow the lines to see that people born around 1980 are the ones most affected around 2015.

While mortality increased among northerners aged 25 to 34, and plateaued among 35 to 44-year-olds, southern mortality mainly declined across both age groups. Overall, between 2014 and 2016, northerners aged 25 to 44 were 41% more likely to die than southerners in the same age group. In real terms, this means that between 2014 and 2016, 1,881 more women and 3,530 more men aged between 25 and 44 years died in the north, than in the south.

What’s killing northerners?

To understand what’s driving this mortality gap among young adults, our team of researchers looked at the causes of death from 2014 to 2016, and sorted them into eight groups: accidents, alcohol related, cardiovascular related (heart conditions, diabetes, obesity and so on), suicide, drug related, breast cancer, other cancers and other causes.

Controlling for the age and sex of the population in the north and the south, we found that it was mostly the deaths of northern men contributing to the difference in mortality – and these deaths were caused mainly by cardiovascular conditions, alcohol and drug misuse. Accidents (for men) and cancer (for women) also played important roles.

From 2014 to 2016, northerners were 47% more likely to die for cardiovascular reasons, 109% for alcohol misuse and 60% for drug misuse, across both men and women aged 25 to 44 years old. Although the national rate of death from cardiovascular reasons has dropped since 1981, the longstanding gap between north and south remains.

Death and deprivation

The gap in life expectancy between north and south is usually put down to socioeconomic deprivation. We considered further data for 2016, to find out if this held true for deaths among young people. We found that, while two thirds of the gap were explained by the fact that people lived in deprived areas, the remaining one third could be caused by some unmeasured form of deprivation, or by differences in culture, infrastructure, migration or extreme weather.

Mortality for people aged 25 to 44 years in 2016, at small area geographical level for the whole of England.

Northern men faced a higher risk of dying young than northern women – partly because overall mortality rates are higher for men than for women, pretty much at every age, but also because men tend to be more susceptible to socioeconomic pressures. Although anachronistic, the expectation to have a job and be able to sustain a family weighs more on men. Accidents, alcohol misuse, drug misuse and suicide are all strongly associated with low socioeconomic status.

Suicide risk is twice as high among the most deprived men, compared to the most affluent. Suicide risk has also been associated with unemployment, and substantial increases in suicide have been observed during periods of recession – especially among men. Further evidence tells us that unskilled men between ages 25 and 39 are between ten and 20 times more likely to die from alcohol-related causes, compared to professionals.

Alcohol underpins the steep increase in liver cirrhosis deaths in Britain from the 1990s – which is when the north-south divide in mortality between people aged 25 to 44 also started to emerge. Previous research has shown that men in this age group, who live in the most deprived areas, are five times more likely to die from alcohol-related diseases than those in the most affluent areas. For women in deprived areas, the risk is four times greater.


It’s also widely known that mortality rates for cancer are higher in more deprived areas, and people have worse survival rates in places where smoking and alcohol abuse is more prevalent. Heroin and crack cocaine addiction and deaths from drug overdoses are also strongly associated with deprivation.

The greater number of deaths from accidents in the north should be considered in the context of transport infrastructure investment, which is heavily skewed towards the south – especially London, which enjoys the lowest mortality in the country. What’s more, if reliable and affordable public transport is not available, people will drive more and expose themselves to higher risk of an accident.

Deaths for young adults in the north of England have been increasing compared to those in the south since the late 1990s, creating new health divides between England’s regions. It seems that persistent social, economic and health inequalities are responsible for a growing trend of psychological distress, despair and risk taking among young northerners. Without major changes, the extreme concentration of power, wealth and opportunity in the south will continue to damage people’s health, and worsen the north-south divide.

The Conversation

Evangelos Kontopantelis, Professor in Data Science and Health Services Research, University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.