Rob Oldham talks about WORM’S LAMENT at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I started off doing comedy at university, writing and performing sketches, and after a year or so I took the leap into stand up, which was initially terrifying but I’ve come to really enjoy. I’ve been gigging in and around London for the last couple of years.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
The show is called ‘Worm’s Lament’, and it’s my first full hour of stand up (I’ve done sketch shows at the Fringe before). It’s broadly political, but definitely with a small ‘p’. I look at growing up in the UK in the noughties, trying to find your place in the world, and how family, the news, and technology might affect that. I do lots of jokes so it’s funny.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I did about half an hour of material at the Fringe last year, not a full debut, so it’s been in the pipeline for about two years! It addresses things that have happened in the UK after the last two years, so it has fairly current topics in. But it’s also about generational differences, death, and bums, so plenty of it is pretty universal.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Every time I’ve been to the Fringe it has ended with me living in a mouldy and vastly overpriced room whilst living off chips and stale lager served in plastic cups, so I don’t feel that qualified to give any advice. Although I think it’s a good idea to walk out of town and sit somewhere green for a bit, just for your sanity.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I was doing a sketch show with my mate Tom, and there a few people on a table at the back who were chatting and being disruptive but without the guts to actually heckle us. A bit of a slanging match developed, but then it turned out that their ringleader was wearing three-quarter length shorts and loads of hair gel so that was put to him and he left in a humiliated fury with his whole troupe, not before throwing a lime at us, which I caught. The audience enjoyed that catch more than any of the punchlines, to be honest.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I’m really lucky to have Liam Williams as my director for Worm’s Lament. I saw him at the Fringe when I was 19 and I was completely blown away. I had never seen anyone do what he did with stand up; the thoughtfulness and use of language is incredible. The first series of ‘Ladhood’, his radio series, remains the best thing I’ve ever heard on radio.

I’m also a big fan of John Kearns, I think what he does is so imaginative, and I love Nina Conti’s act too.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I panic wildly that no one will come, prod at my phone, get a beer, and then start.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I’ve seen some sets by Jacob Hawley and I think he’s got a really special show on his hands. I’m really excited to see Moon and Flora Anderson, they do really exciting stuff. Pelican always make me laugh too, so I’ll be sure to go along to them.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
‘Worm’s Lament’ tackles big topics in an individual way, I think. I use music and poems to give texture to the show, and I’ve been working on the whole thing really, really hard. Also, there’s a cracking bit about butt-plugs. Come one, come all!

Rob Oldham is on from 1-27 August, 21:30, Pleasance That


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