George Rigden talks about taking his show GEORGE-OUS to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: George Rigden
Name of Edinburgh show: George-ous
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Performance time: 9.45pm
Show length: 55 minutes
Ticket price: £6-10

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I was born and raised in Bristol, aka the best city on earth. I studied drama at GCSE, A-level and university for 2 years before dropping out to focus on my band who (SPOILER ALERT) didn’t make it, but I always secretly harboured ambitions to be a comedian. I ran the idea by my 2 best friends when I was about 17 , one told me I definitely should and the other (also the guitarist in said band) told me I definitely shouldn’t, and because my self-esteem was and remains perilously low, I listened to the latter and didn’t pursue it. Then, 7 years later, the former friend who told me I should do stand up tragically died. He was the same age as me and I know its a massive cliche, it properly dawned on me that life is too short so I entered So You Think You’re Funny for my first gig. I didn’t progress (I was shit) but it was the most fun I’d ever had in my life up to that point so I knew I had to keep doing it. That was 5 years ago, and now it’s my full time job. I feel like the luckiest fucker to ever walk the earth.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The pretentious answer is that it’s a deeply personal show about toxic masculinity, with songs and a hefty amount of audience interaction – I basically play a character who looks like me and has my name who is utterly convinced he’s God’s gift to women, but it’s evident from what he does and says that his life is falling apart.

The simple answer is that it’s me being a prick for an hour with a guitar.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
This is my debut show, so I’ve been working at it from day one but more intensely since last Edinburgh – I took up a 40 minute work in progress on the free fringe last year but it feels like a very different show now. I think tackling and subverting the topics of men’s mental health is a very relevant idea for the current climate and I fully intend to exploit that as much as possible. I have zero shame.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Yes – pace yourself, see as much as you can and perform as much as you can but don’t burn yourself out or get too wankered. I realise that’s a contradiction, but I’m speaking from personal experience and that way madness lies. Also be very careful who you bitch to.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Last Edinburgh I was very honoured to perform in the award-winning kids show, Funz & Gamez. I played the ‘cuddly’ koala bear and It’s still comfortably the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever been part of at the fringe. After a while the costume got a bit grubby and I managed to get toothpaste down the front of it – one show, completely without warning, Phil Ellis addressed the stains onstage, heavily insinuating they were of a jizzy nature. Horribly wrong, but I’ve never laughed as hard in my life.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
There are so many people I’m massively indebted to in comedy – friends and colleagues, acts and bookers, basically anyone who’s gone out of their way to help me out. It’s an amazing industry to be a part of in that respect, everyone for the most part is just sound, but in terms of direct inspiration? I wouldn’t have done stand up if it wasn’t for a combination of The Office – the first comedy I ever saw where I felt ‘this was written for me’, a proper watershed moment and still the greatest thing I’ve ever seen – and Lee Mack, who for my money is the most intrinsically funny-boned person to step foot on a stage since Eric Morecambe. Both in equal part inspired me to do comedy, because they’re so brilliantly inventive and original and yet they make it look so organic. I always strive for that.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Tune my guitar, put my shirt and tie on, try to shake the overwhelming feeling that everyone in that room hates me.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I always make a point of seeing Jordan Brookes and Mat Ewins – they’re easily the most inventive, original and brilliantly hilarious comics in the country right now, if not the world and their shows always take my breath away. I’m also excited to be debuting among some of my best friends – Jake Lambert is the most exciting new joke writer around and he only gets better every time I see him, so that’ll be a blast. Also Sarah Keyworth, who I did lunchtime special with a few years back at the tron – properly funny boned and insanely charismatic, her show is going to be amazing.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
Because it’s different – there will be countless of incredible stand up shows this year as there are every year, but I pride myself on doing something where people feel as though anything could happen. Also, it’s costing me a metric fucktonne so seriously please come.


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