Chris Turner: An EdFringe 2015 Interview

17 Jul

Words by Susan Ford

Chris Turner recently gained recognition as runner up at the English Comedian of the Year Awards last month, and also during last year’s Fringe when he won Amused Moose Laughter Award’s Best Show (People’s Champion), and The Arts Desk’s Best Comedy of 2014. Chris Turner is not only a very witty and unique joke-writer, but is also a rapper, musician, actor and extremely clever young man who is preparing to take on 3 big performances at this year’s Fringe. I caught up with Chris recently to see how he plans to cope with being one of the busiest men at the festival.
image Hello Chris, how are you?
Hi! I’m rather relaxed, thank you – it’s a sunny day, I’ve not got a gig to drive off to, someone just bought 8 tickets to my Fringe show on Black Wednesday, and I’ve found some tapestries that I want on my office wall.

Are you excited about performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year?
I’m always excited about Edinburgh. I’m incredibly proud of my shows, and lucky to be performing and living with my best friends for the fifth year in a row.

What have you been doing since last year’s Festival?
Overall, writing a new hour of stand up, which has been simultaneously terrifying and electrifying. Chronologically: relaxing, Christmas shopping, Christmas gigs, busking in New Zealand, applying aftersun, telling jokes in Australia, slogging it out on the circuit, previewing the new show.

imageTell us about all the shows you are involved with/performing at the Festival?
‘Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised’ is an hour of family friendly long-form improv with my best mates (though we go under the name Racing Minds). Each year we’ve stepped up to larger and larger venues, and this time we’re in the Pleasance Queen Dome, which as far as improv goes, is one of the best rooms on the Fringe.

‘AAA Batteries (Not Included)’ is a three hander stand up show that’s suitable for kids, though aimed at adults. I started it in 2011 with Liam Williams and Adam Hess, and since then David Elms, Jon Bennett and Daniel Roberts have variously made up two thirds of the trio. It’s free, and is becoming a bit of an institution with families – we’ve had to turn people away for every show for the last three years. This year I can’t say who the other two are, because they’re too funny, so you’ll have to come and see.

‘Chris Turner: XXV’ is my second stand up show, and I’m so happy with how it’s turned out. I performed it at the Perth Fringe in February, where it was nominated for Best Comedy, and since then it’s got so much funnier. It’s about being told I had 10 years left to live, which is an utter goldmine of jokes. I rap my little socks off in it.

What preparations are in place for you to be the busiest man at the Fringe this year?
The usual tricks of lemon & ginger tea, VocalZones, and blood sacrifices/mousetraps in the kitchen. My stand up and improv are unamplified, so it’ll be interesting to see how long I can go before resorting to microphones and claiming if I’m less funny without both hands free. Last year I didn’t drink for the month which allowed me to keep my voice but did diminish the opportunities for reckless fun. This year I’ll trade that for a slightly hoarse final week.

Do you prefer performing solo shows or as part of a team?
They won’t read this, so I can answer honestly – team shows, because it’s different every day, and if I’m not funny, they will be and the show’s still good. If I’m not funny in my solo show then it’s all on me, and I take that pretty hard.

imageHow many years have you performed in Edinburgh, and what does the Festival mean to you?
It’s my ninth Fringe, and after my first one, 16 year old me said ‘I don’t see why I’d ever not be here in August’. It was a combination of messed-up shows I attended, underage drinking, and the fact that I could eat haggis suppers every night without parental supervision. I’m doing my best to prove my youthful self right, and I still believe that the Fringe is one of the most important things in my development as a comedian.

What’s the best audience reaction that you have experienced whilst performing at the Edinburgh Fringe? How important is audience interaction to your show?
There’s a lot of audience input for my freestyles – please come prepared with the most challenging words and topic you can think of – my favourite suggestions from last year were 9th Century Crop Rotation and Afghani Irrigation Ditches. I like the crowd at Spank! – you drop a good freestyle there and they’ll let you know how they feel about it. I step off stage feeling more Rockstar than Comedian.

What other acts do you recommend we catch at this year’s Fringe?
This is going to be incredibly incestuous, but they’re all very funny:
Asp – Daniel Roberts
Foolball – Tom Skelton
Möglich – Douglas Walker
Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes – Ghostwriters
And this one will probably be the best show up there, from the funniest person:
Joseph Morpurgo: Soothing Sounds for Baby

AAA Batteries (Not Included) is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves (Venue 88), 15:25 Aug 6-17, 19-29
Aaaand Now For Something Completely Improvised is on at Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) 12:00
Chris Turner: XXV is on at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) at 21.45

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