If Sam’s answers are anything to go by, this show is going to be BRILLIANT. Go early as once word gets out you’ll be fighting to get a ticket…
Who is your favourite cartoon character and why?
Wile E. Coyote. Hard to say why, but I always felt deeply sorry for him. He’s a talented mural painter, a resourceful inventor and a cunning strategist; but he’s a victim of his environment. His plans never malfunction through his own fault – he reads the Acme manual, he follows the instructions to the letter – they go wrong due to unreliable products and a cosmic misorder too large to comprehend.
The Road Runner passes through solid painted rock and runs across open air; traps don’t go off, tar doesn’t stick; but when the coyote expresses his incredulity at the fundamental laws of nature, putting himself into the place of the Road Runner to demonstrate what should have happened, reality snaps back with a stinging bite. It’s like Wile E Coyote’s true enemy is the universe itself. His tragedy is he doesn’t realise he lives in a cartoon until he finally looks down at the canyon floor.
How old were you when you started telling jokes and can you remember the first one?
One year for Christmas I received a book of Knock Knock jokes. I’m guessing I was around 5 or 6. I would take the book with me everywhere and read people the jokes to see what they made of it all. I liked the participatory aspect of the Knock Knock format. I liked that the audience had a stake in the success or failure of the joke. I think my mum confiscated it after a week.
Describe your ideal front row audience member.
Ideally a celebrity; any gender. Someone I have heard of, but wouldn’t be intimidated by (i.e. Chris Tarrant, Robert Webb). No one who’s going to draw too much attention away from me (i.e. Bono, Eamonn Holmes), but someone about whom other audience members will later say “Did you see…?” and “I can’t believe that was…!” (i.e. Buddha).
What did you miss most about comedy in the last two years? What do you value more now because of it?
Everyone’s kinder now. That’s a subjective experience which may have more to do with my slightly altered standing within the hyper-partisan social scene compared to pre-pandemic, but I really earnestly believe people are just happy to be out and seeing each other again. It’s possible, I hope, that there’s a greater appreciation for the live scene and an enhanced respect for those who enrich it. I never used to gig because I hated the way comedians were, but there’s a nicer bunch of people around now and long may they continue to say hello to me.
Which podcast(s) can you not live without?
I always enjoy Adam Buxton’s, and Jon Ronson’s latest one is great. I’ve been listening to ‘The History of Witchcraft’ which has a good balance of first-hand accounts and historical scene-setting, and recently a friend recommended ‘Bible Brothers’, where two comedy-writers attempt to read the bible cover-to-cover. I’m nearly at Exodus.
What is comedy’s greatest benefit for the world?
It’s good to laugh. Health experts attest it strengthens core muscles and produces chemical reactions in the brain that make you feel closer to other human beings and more productive in your day labour. We need that, now more than ever. When we laugh, as monkeys, we’re showing submission. People will tell you this, you can research it yourself. But submission to what? Well, for me I believe it’s submission to the idea! You’re admitting you found the joke funny, and really great jokes are funny because they speak to something deeper within you than you assumed language could reach. At its worst comedy helps bring prejudices to light, and at its best it points out how ridiculous those prejudices are. It diagnoses and it heals. It’s also a great way to make new friends and relax after a long day!
Which shows do you have a great feeling about at this year’s Fringe?
I feel great about Joz Norris, Ania Magliano, Cerys Bradley and Sheeps! They all have such wonderful posters, which I think is essential. I’m excited to see Chloe Petts and Jen Ives, plus Ben Moor, Peter Fleming and John Kearns are all doing short-runs that I want to catch.
Tell us about your Fringe show.
My show is called ‘Cancel Anti Wokeflake Snow Culture’. One year ago I began to worry I was wrong about all my opinions and so I decided to engage with all the ‘right-wing/freedom of speech comedians’ on YouTube to see what their arguments actually amounted to. Then I got really ill, and then I came out as queer. The show is a surrealist-satire that examines that experience and attempts to catalogue, as honestly as it can, the inner-monologue of someone struggling with questioning themselves, battling their worst instincts, and trying to grow. It’s a patchwork of multimedia, film, animation, character and stand-up and it’s going to be great.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Drink plenty of water. I have a 4l bottle of water by my desk and I force myself to glug it. You don’t notice the change straight away but you snack less, your mood improves and your skin looks healthier. I glug my water and then I go for a meander around the corner and back once a day. These basic functions create an environment in which the brain is better primed to tackle larger issues like systemic injustice and the need for radical change within our corporate and political institutions.
8.55pm | PBH Free Fringe @Banshee Labyrinth (Cinema Room) | 6-28 August (not 17)