You may have seen them at The Wrestling, or supporting Ed Sheeran on tour. We were lucky to catch up with Rob Broderick from one our Top 10 Recommendations, Abandoman, ahead of their 2014 Fringe show: Hot Desk.
Hello Rob Broderick, how excited are you about performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
Very excited. I can’t believe it’s in two weeks! Improv’s a weird one to get ready as we’re running through a lot of ideas to play with for this show, and see how they come out on the night. We’ve already chosen the boxset DVDs we’re going to watch when we’re not performing. There’s a lot of genuine excitement about what we’re going to do to keep ourselves occupied for the month.
How many times have you performed at the Edinburgh Fringe?
Loads! I started performing in 2005 when I started out doing standup. I missed 2006 and have been there ever since in various improv groups and standup. It still terrifies me that it’s weeks away. The terror lessens gradually each year.
This year’s show is called Hot Desk. Without giving too much away, can you tell us a bit about the show?
It’s a day in the life of our writers’ room, song writers for major artists around the world, and we’re trying to create our own chart hit, written with a lot of musicians but it’s not always been successful collaboration, so now we’re collaborating with the audience to make that chart success.
What is the best thing about the Edinburgh Fringe, and what are your previous highlights?
There’s always that moment when a show does something when you think “wow, I didn’t think that was possible”. In 2005 I saw Reggie Watts for the first time. That’s him using music with comedy but with improv I don’t think Abandoman didn’t occur as an idea for a couple of years.
Austentatious blew me away a couple of years ago. It’s one of those shows which expand what you thought comedy could do, and what people can do. Every year you hope to find that new show, or new playful idea like Hot Dub Time Machine, or Nightmare Live last year at the Gilded Balloon. There’s circus stuff that I wouldn’t normally see through the year on the comedy club scene. It’s seeing things that were never a reality in your head and you’re like “Of course that should be an idea, that’s brilliant.”
Do you have any traditions or rituals during the Edinburgh Fringe?
There are rituals that come about, such as sleeping between 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock. On our day off we will go to Illegal Jacks for haggis quesadillas. They do this thing that shouldn’t work. It’s the big cheesy mess that I love. You need to give yourself a day off so we can only have it on the two Mondays we’re not working.
Where is the most unusual place you have done a gig?
We did a weird one on a bus as part of a stag do, but the best man told us not to tell anyone until we got the bus that we were performers, so they kind of inferred that we were friends of the groom. So we sat on this bus with people chatting to us who were mates of the groom, and we were trying to dodge questions, and he went “The lads are going to sing a song”. To them we just looked like new people on a stag do who were really cocky and wanted to sing a song. It was like “Why are these guys who haven’t met any of us before choosing seven minutes into a bus ride as an appropriate time to make us look at them sing?” They figured out a couple of minutes in that we might be actual entertainers…
You’re obviously good at improvising on stage, so are you good in an emergency?
It depends on the emergency. I’m very practical. When things go wrong I want to do things and I want to fix them. But I also think that makes me frustrating in other situations. Someone might be going through an emotional issue and I’m like “OK, what we need to do is…” and they’re like “No, you don’t need to do anything, I just wanted to share a moment with you”. So what might be a skill if the house had been burgled, mightn’t be a skill in friends confiding in me. “OK, first thing we’re going to do is write a book about it so we can move on.”
You’re one of Punchline’s top 10 shows this festival. Who else do you recommend from the Fringe programme this year?
I’m excited about a lot of the Hip Hop shows. Because of their skills, Beardyman and Schlomo as beatboxers are fantastic. I’m going to go to see Rubber Bandits. Showstoppers is ridiculously good, and I always adore Austentatious. Jason Byrne is one of my favourite comics. There’s a show called Jay-Z and Me about a 60 year old woman who wanted to meet Jay-Z and made it happen. I don’t know much about the show but it sounds like a cool title. There’s a circus show called A Simple Space, which I saw in London and it blew me away. I heard that a lot of the performers had injuries, and the full show when they’re not all injured is even better. They’re shows that I would comfortably send a friend to knowing that they would have a good time.
And finally, any advice for Fringe first-timers (performers or audience)?
Chat to performers. If a comic flyers you, ask them who they would recommend. You get a very honest response from people who are around the scene, who might know people who might not be massive yet. Look for the Top 10’s in the publications you enjoy and go and see one of those shows. See a show in a genre you don’t think you like. Take a punt. If a show’s pitch sounds good, go and see it. There’s a show by Joel Dommett this year called Finding Emo. Just on the pitch I’m going to go and see that. I love Joel and I think he’s very funny.
Enjoy the fact that so many shows are on offer on the Free Fringes, and if you like it, give the punt the money at the end. Go and see the late night compilation shows, and if you like someone, go and see the show. They’re a great way of getting a flavour of a whole load of comics of which you might have heard of two, and there might be another six that you adore.
As for performers, look after yourself. Eat well. Try to rest. We’ll all get a two-star review: don’t worry about it. You’ll get all manner of things said – try not to read them or take them too seriously. Just roll on. The best advice is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would the mate who knocks on your door who is exhausted and has twenty shows to go. Try to treat yourself like that person rather than telling yourself to buck up. We’re so nice to other people but it’s hard to give yourself the same leeway.
You can catch Abandoman at 9.10pm every day at the Underbelly, except on Mondays where you will find them at Illegal Jacks. Buy tickets here
And in case you need another reason to go, look at all these stars!
★★★★★ “For the whole hour we were enthralled by a comedic mastermind at work” BROADWYBABY.COM
★★★★★ “A gloriously uncynical, party-starter of a show” LONDONISFUNNY.COM
★★★★★ “Abandoman’s talent really has to be seen to be believed” GIGGLEBEATS.CO.UK
★★★★★“A virtuoso of language and beat” RIPITUP.COM
★★★★ “So clever, quick-witted and audacious” THE SCOTSMAN
★★★★“An irresistibly feel-good show” CHORTLE
★★★★ “Remarkable verbal dexterity and outrageously sharp wit” EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS
★★★★ “Faster than Usain Bolt when it comes to crafting a cunning line… clearly a master” EDINBURGH FESTIVAL MAGAZINE
★★★★ “Slick, stylish and funny” THREE WEEKS
★★★★ “Astounding… well-structured and galvanising” SPOONFED.CO.UK
★★★★ “Quick, clever and very talented” INFORMED EDINBURGH
★★★★ “Impressive and thoroughly entertaining… be prepared for your face to ache from laughing” HAIRLINE.ORG.UK
“Truly innovative” THE GUARDIAN
“The most original act we’ve seen in a long time. Go and see them” MAXIM
“Killer punch lines. Note-perfect, lyrically mind-blowing hip-hop improv. Genius!” THE STAGE
“A star of the future!” TIME OUT
“A freestyle talent that is unparalleled anywhere in the market with comedic timing and witty rhyming that’s so impressive it could’ve been scripted” THE INDEPENDENT