Still another week before I get to Edinburgh, but there are advantages in this. Not least that I can keep an eye on the early coverage. Which looks like it could be a full-time occupation this year with the broadsheets' online features looking more fulsome than ever before.
The Guardian, as the natural paper of most Fringe performers, has an eviable variety of guest writers and contributors including an ongoing story written an episode at a time by various comics, a blog by Mark Ravenhill on his premiere-a-day show Ravenhill For Breakfast and a daily podcast from critic Brian Logan and comedienne (-ette?) Lucy Porter.
Interestingly, the Telegraph's coverage is easily comparable - and benefits from a slightly more user-friendly design with the features mixed in with the reviews, allowing for a slightly more potted read. Of course, being the Telegraph, it also offers some excellent examples of philistine harrumphing and a picture of Stewart Lee (accompanying a charming interview) labelled "Stewart Lee studied English Literature at Oxford University" like a justification to the paper's normal constituency for its inclusion ("Why's this chap here, eh? Studied at Oxford, did he? Capital fellow, then. Spendid. Carry on...").
The Times online's stuff, once the sodding page has loaded, isn't especially impressive (my own tiny contribution to the NSDF stuff notwithstanding). The news report on the international festival is standard journalism at its press conference-attending best, while the lead article is little more than a collection of half-minute phone interviews based on a handful of flyers and virtually no connection to its initial premise.
The Independent's coverage is a characteristically sloppy mess: badly laid out, uninspiring, and, in the case of a non-story report on Ricky Gervais charging a lot for tickets managing to make the schoolboy error of confusing the Fringe with the International Festival.
And of course the Fringe wouldn't be the Fringe without Ian Shuttleworth from the Financial Times seeing more shows than all the other critics put together in his frankly masochistic, Salo-like efforts to see every damn thing out there.