Nick Hall talks about bringing his show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Name: Nick Hall
Name of Edinburgh show: Nick Hall: Spencer
Performance time: 13.30
Show length: (1hr)
Ticket price: £7.50 – 10
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m a comedian, actor and improviser. I’ve been performing since university in lots of different things. I was in a sketch act that performed on BBC2, BBC3 and BBC Radio 4, then I went solo and took various character and stand-up shows to the Edinburgh Fringe. I also perform long-form improvised comedy with a group in London, The Committee, and we’re are also going up to the Fringe this year.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It’s about the forgotten story of Spencer Percival, the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated, who was killed in the Houses of Parliament in 1812. The show takes you through Spencer’s life and death, while drawing parallels with the present world of Britain and Brexit. I play Spencer as the narrator of his own story and playing all the other characters, trying to work out why he was killed and uncover his murderer’s true motives.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I stumbled across the story a few years ago and have been working on the show ever since then. It’s a forgotten story from British history that I knew I wanted more people to know about. The world of 1812 was a crazy time with social unrest, wars with Europe and an unpopular Prime Minister, so there’s plenty of parallels to be drawn with 2018! The biggest challenge was working out how it could be told as a comedy show that also reflected my views on politics and the current state of the world.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Bring a sturdy pair of shoes, a good waterproof and a healthy liver. Also if you find a nice little salad bar (there’s one on Grassmarket) – visit it every second day!
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I once had to wear a massive head microphone performing a show for only three people, all sat in the front row. The technician had bought the fancy new kit and really wanted me to use it, despite the fact it was totally unnecessary, as the audience still could have heard me if I’d whispered. So there I was – rigged up like I’m Beyonce on stage at Wembley Stadium – performing to just three people.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
My history show Spencer has drawn a big influence from Michael Winterbottom’s 2005 film A Cock and Bull Story starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. It’s a brilliant and clever film taken from an 18th century novel about Tristram Shandyrom. The film later became the inspiration for TV show The Trip with Coogan and Brydon.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Vocal warm-ups. Edinburgh can absolutely destroy your voice so I’m constantly on the honey and lemon. The show’s also quite high-energy – with me running around playing lots of different characters – so stretches are very important. Basically I treat my show like I’m warming up for a 10k!
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Dan Cook and Owen Roberts both have great shows this year. I’m also living with them at the Fringe so I’m trying to keep them both happy by recommending them. So actually their shows could be terrible. Like really really bad. Just don’t blame me.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It’s a story from history you genuinely won’t have heard before, told in a funny, inventive and moving fashion – a brilliant Fringe experience. Even if you don’t like history, the show’s accessible to all!