In the Hot Seat: Carl Donnelly

Photograph of Carl Donnelly

One of our longstanding favourites, make sure you see Carl performing “The Nutter on the Bus” on an actual bus…

Close your eyes and picture Edinburgh. What do you see?

That’s a good question. The opening question to about 90% of Q&As is “What made you become a comedian”. I love Edinburgh. Not just the Fringe but the actual city. When I close my eyes and picture it, I see the view over the city from the top of Arthur’s Seat. It’s rare that you can walk for 30 minutes from a city centre and then be looking over the whole city from the top of an ancient volcano.

What is the last thing that made you snort with laughter?

Comedian (and my partner in crime) Chris Martin said the word “panties” in an American accent during a conversation the other day and it really caught me off guard. It was totally out of the blue and it really gave us the giggles. We have the ability to just catch each other with a phrase that turns us into giggling idiots. Last night we were having a conversation while driving about how Ed Sheeran pops up in a lot of stuff currently. I turned to Chris and said “He’s like onions and garlic. They’re also in a lot of things” Needless to say, he nearly crashed the car due to my stupidity.

Tell us about this year’s show.

It’s a selection of stories about some of my more alternative life choices over the last few years that I’ve made in a bid to better myself and take control of my emotions and mental state. Four years ago I was on anti-depressants, in therapy and generally existing in a state of constant apathy. Now I’m much happier but on paper I think people would question some of the things I’ve done to get to this point as they include ‘alternative therapies’. I’m prone to the odd hippy excursion and partaking in hallucinogenic ceremonies that involve a lot of crying and vomiting.

Who do you want to see this year?

Loads of stuff. It’s the biggest arts festival in the world so I could see something in every waking hour and still not see everything I wanted to. The first show I am seeing (on its opening night) is Hannah Gadsby’s show. She’s excellent.

Do you have any Edinburgh Fringe traditions?

Day one I go shopping with Jimmy McGhie for nice house things for our accommodation. It sounds silly but we’re living in a flat that isn’t ours for a month so I think it’s important to make it feel like home. We go and buy new bedsheets, towels, incense (or scented candles depending on our mood) and other nice bits and bobs.

What is your getting ready music?

INXS’ Need You Tonight is one I constantly return to when getting ready for my show. During the day when I’m relaxing I tend to have a lot of chilled ambient types of music (Brian Eno is a regular on the daytime playlist). The moment it gets to near showtime and I need a little energy boost, INXS get called off the bench. If you get the chance, watch the official video for Need You Tonight. It’s on YouTube and you will get to see one of the greatest rock lead singers in his prime. He was so sexy that even as a heterosexual man, that video does things to me.

If you could have any guest in your show, who would it be?

See question 6. Hutchence in his prime. He died far too young so it would be great to have him back with us.

What is the best backhanded compliment you have had?

I won the Chortle Award for ‘Best Club Comedian’ this year which I was very touched to receive but a tiny part of me can’t help but hear that title as a backhanded compliment. It kind of sounds like that’s all I do.  The comedy circuit is varied and in some ways quite fractured. Some comics only play clubs, some only do festivals etc. I like to think of myself as being one of the group that are able to play all facets of the circuit. I play festivals all around the world, perform at most clubs, do two podcasts and plenty more. Basically I was honoured to win but like all comedians I managed to see some negative in a nice thing.  Part of me wants there to be a ‘Best Comedian Who Does Loads of Stuff’ award which I could win.

Who made you howl with laughter when you were a child?

Dave Allen. He’s one of the few childhood heroes who lasted the journey into adulthood. I still think of him as one of my biggest comedy influences.

What should Donald Trump know?

If ever there is someone who needs to take a heavy dose of hallucinogens (with the aid of a shaman in a controlled environment of course) it’s old Donald. He’s the most egotistical person I’ve ever seen. He’s incapable of answering a question without it being about him. If he’s asked about nuclear deterrents, rather than answer with any fact or opinion, he prefaces it with a comment about how much ‘he’ knows about nuclear deterrents. It’s fascinating to watch.  I think he needs an experience where he is detached from his ego and can see the irrelevance of his own existence as an individual. I recommend he go to an ayahuasca retreat for a week to learn the interconnectivity of all things and how small a part of that he actually is.

What do you do in Edinburgh that your parents wouldn´t approve of?

They would not be too happy that I talk about them onstage. They feature quite heavily in this show as a lot of my past mental health issues can be traced back to my childhood. Luckily for me, they never come to see my shows. They also don’t have the internet so have no way of finding out that I’m discussing them.

Catch Carl Donnelly: The Nutter on the Bus at 7.30pm at Heroes @ Bob’s Blundabus throughout August


Published by Punchline

Your secret source of comedy knowledge at the Edinburgh Fringe

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