Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m going to resist the temptation to answer this question stupidly: I’m a stand-up comedian and comedy director. I have been coming to the Fringe since 2010 and done 5 solo stand up shows, some sketch shows and directed a whole bunch of filmed comedy, sitcoms, shorts and web series for Sky, BBC, Netflix and my own production company Turtle Canyon Comedy.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It’s called The Journey. It’s a step away from stand-up, I wrote a bloody play. An actual “three brilliant actors, proper venue, music and tech, rehearsals and a big old script” play. It’s a romantic comedy about a couple who break up whilst on a spaceship – leaving them stuck with each other. I wanted to write something with a unique set up, that goes further than stand up could go with plot and performance but still provides big laughs. I come from a more film-influenced background but the actors and my co-director Phoebe Ladenburg have brilliant theatrical experience so it’s been a great collaborative experience to bring the play to life.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I started writing a short story with a similar plot in 2010 and got frustrated with how to get it out there. So when I had been doing full stand up shows and got comfortable with structure storytelling I had that classic ‘I reckon I can step up to plays’ thought in my head. To give the full hierarchy: films, plays, stand-up, magic, street performers, mime, musicals, improv. In case that upsets anyone: I’m sorry (mimes deference). I think it’s a very modern story, I really wanted it to be funny, to utilise the potential for a shift between comedy and drama. Also, the relationship plays with outdated male/female clichés and the toxic psychology of certain power dynamics.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
If you’re allergic to bees don’t do any recreational bee keeping experience days. Lost so many friends to the bee keeping experience trade.
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
On stage there was an open door (of course there was, it was the basement of a heavy metal pub), someone walked past dressed in a full Dalek costume made of balloons. I got them on stage and performed the rest of the show with them as my sidekick.
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I’m a massive Christopher Nolan fan, I think his attitude to storytelling and delivering smart, unique approaches to familiar narratives is superb. In comedy it was Harry Hill, his ability to incorporate so many different styles of comedy into one character is staggering. In theatre I really loved reading the play Lungs – it’s a two-hander between a man and a woman and it’s funny, unique and enthralling.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I’m not at all superstitious or worried about that sort of stuff – live performance has so many elements outside of your control that maintaining the ‘perfect’ pre-show ritual is unlikely to help create uniformity in a live show. Spontaneity is an important element of stand-up comedy and is something that I’ve wanted to transpose to theatre in The Journey – taking advantage of it being live, of it being a unique performance every single day. Hopefully that keeps it interesting for the performers and audiences, I think it warrants repeat viewings and I hope audiences do too.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I know mainly of the stand-up side of things, I’m directing Ian Smith & Alex Kealy’s shows and am really excited to see them at the Fringe. There’s a fellow stand up Danielle Ward taking a play up that will be absolutely brilliant – it’s called The Half and I can’t wait to see it.
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
Genuinely? I don’t. Go see loads of shows, if The Journey sounds like it might be good, please come! I’m really bad at self-promotion, everything in my being can’t cope when I’m told to sell myself and writing the answers to these questions has been tough. Because it’s not just me on stage doing stand up I feel a sense of duty to my brilliant cast Phoebe Sparrow and Will Brown, my co-director Phoebe Ladenburg and the producers Ryan Taylor & The Pleasance to answer properly and not be a complete idiot. I gave myself one stupid answer as a treat.
The Journey by Stuart Laws
Pleasance Dome (Ten), Potterow, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 3rd), 17:40