"It’s been a challenge to dig the funny out of all that and try and make it suit my voice" - (Scott on topics like guilt and anxiety)
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is by far one of the most popular and excitable events to happen in the the comedy, theatre and arts annual calendar. Not only does it host established acts but it offers a unique opportunity for uprising talent to showcase their material and garner a wider audience whilst developing their underlying talent.
Scott Bennett has been chosen by Chortle as this year's 'one to watch' and you can see why when he goes about talking about the sacrifice, support, love and discovery he has made whilst going through the decision to adapt which ultimately affected his life and his family's lives.
Through his craft he has rapidly established himself as one of the fastest rising stars on the UK’s comedy circuit today. Securing a nomination at the 'Amused Moose Comedy Awards' in 2015 was at the very start lead him to go on to a support slot with Michael McIntyre and at present supporting his comedy hero Rob Brydon on his latest national tour. Scott has also contributed to the Panelbeaters podcast, BBC Radio 4's News Quiz and is currently writing for Chris Ramsey’s new Comedy Central series, The Chris Ramsey Show. He has also written for Jason Manford..
Scott Bennett is set to deliver his 'Leap Year' set at the following time, dates and venue:-
VENUE: Just the Tonic - Mash House Snifter Room, 37 Guthrie Street, EH1 1JG
DATES: Thurs 2nd-Sun 26th August (not 13th)
PRICES: £5 in advance, or Pay What You Want at the venue
TICKETS: 0330 220 1212 / www.justthetonic.com/edinburgh-festival/
GMA spoke to Scott about his forthcoming appearance at the EFF, what this means for him and what amazing things happened between the time he got into comedy and at present.
So Scott, how does it feel to be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival once again?
"It’s great, I’m really excited! Since my last time in 2015, I’ve had kids, left my day job and committed to comedy as a full time illness."
What for you makes the festival special? Aside from your gig will you be checking out other performers?
"It’s a trade fair for comedy. I love being able to walk to gigs and catch up with colleagues properly rather than just a brief chat in a service station on the M6 as we dash around the country. I love the variety of shows up there and the undiscovered gems that take us all by surprise. I have my young family with me for the entire run this year so I’ll be having a very broad fringe experience, from kids shows to stand up. I’ll definitely squeeze in seeing Glenn Wool, Tom Stade and Scott Capurro though!"
What is your style of comedy for those who don't know your material, and will there be a mixture of old and new at Edinburgh?
"I’d say my style is classic observational comedy. Although this year there is a departure in terms of the content. It’s the most honest show I have ever done; I take on subjects such as anxiety, guilt and the reality of juggling comedy and family. It’s been a challenge to dig the funny out of all that and try and make it suit my voice, but I’m hoping I’ve pulled it off! It’s a brand-new show and I’m hoping to surprise a few people with the messages and honesty in it!"
What was it like working alongside Michael McIntyre for his 'Work In Progress' shows in London? Surely when you were confirmed to be his support act you must have thought 'I've made it'?
"It was like watching a masterclass in observational comedy. These were his early routines, some of which he was doing from notes and they were so beautifully sharp and performed to perfection. He’s an inspiration to me; his work ethic, the ability to wring the funny out of every situation and make it look effortless. There is a reason he is at the top of his game and has been for so long. He’s our Seinfeld.
I was one of three other acts including Russell Kane, Keri Godliman and Ed Gamble. I was definitely the ringer on that line up. I got the spot from them watching a clip of me online. It was so surreal. My wife was due to give birth to our second child the same day, but she told me to go, “I can have this baby anytime but this is Michael McIntyre!” What a woman! It was a great opportunity, but I think I am a better comic now than I was then. It wasn’t an easy gig - they were there to see Michael, not me!"
In 2017 and early 2018 you supported Rob Brydon on his national UK tour 'I Am Standing Up', does this surpass supporting Michael McIntyre or is it on par with?
"This was different but equally wonderful. I tell the story about how this came about in my show. Rob is a comedy hero of mine, bizarrely it was the first live gig my wife and I went to as a married couple in 2009. She had bought me his autobiography and had it signed. I had just started stand up, literally the night before that show. Eight years later I took the same book along when I first met Rob, and he signed the other page. It’s something I’ll never forget!
I’ve learnt so much from watching him every night. The stage craft, the ability to put on a true one-man variety show and to do it completely clean. He’s a genius."
What got you into writing for the 'News Quiz' on BBC Radio 4? What challenges (if any) were you faced with?
"I just asked to come and do it! It was only a writers trial and I’d love to do more. I had written on many topical podcasts and for other comedians such as Jason Manford. I was also one of the writers on the latest series of the Chris Ramsey Show. The News Quiz was the most challenging however, I had to work really hard to create jokes from some of the political stories that week. I remember it was the time where Carillion had gone bust so it all felt a bit bleak. It is testament to the skill of the writing team they have there that we managed to pull together a really funny show. I also loved writing in Miles Jupp’s voice, it’s much more high status than I am on stage and it enabled me to write jokes I wouldn’t necessarily be able to get away with myself. I loved every minute of it!"
Aside from the Fringe, what are your plans for the year ahead?
"I am looking forward to next year. I have written a couple of sitcoms which I am working to try and get developed, that’s really exciting. I will also be filming the next project my wife and I have written (she’s a great comedy actor) following on from our last two projects “Caravan of Love” and “Pillow Talk”. I will also be writing my 2019 show and trying to put together a little tour too! I also will have a family holiday at some point as I think we could all deserve it after a month at the fringe!"
Scott Bennett: Leap Year is on at the Just the Tonic Mash House throughout August
Ed Byrne has been an acclaimed stand-up (with audiences and critics alike) for 20 years now. His success with shows such as the Roaring Forties, Different Class and the 1998 Perrier-nominated A Night At The Opera led to him appearing on the box in the diverse likes of Mock The Week, Father Ted, The One Show and All Star Mr & Mrs, while his love of hillwalking resulted in him writing a regular column for The Great Outdoors magazine. In fact, his love of natural history has crossed into television with appearances on The One Show (abseiling in Snowdonia), Countryfile (climbing Sgùrr Dearg, the ‘inaccessible pinnacle’ on Skye) and presenting items on Volcano Live (BBC). He is also co-host of the highly acclaimed Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and follow up Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay, both on BBC 2.
As he prepares to launch himself upon the nation with another touring show, the Irish comic is firmly of a belief that the current breed of parents spoil their kids rotten whether it’s to do with the ever-increasing size of garden trampolines, or his own kids’ demand for elderflower cordial.
“My dad wasn’t a bad dad, he was just a 1970s dad. I could never see my children ever again from this moment on, and I’ve already done more parenting then he did in my entire life. But, of course, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be an awesome dad. My wife will come back with tales from her friends of how awful their husbands are and she’ll see me smiling and say ‘alright, stop congratulating yourself just because such and such can’t be left alone with their children for two minutes’.”
In his new touring show, the perfectly-titled Spoiler Alert, Ed compares and contrasts the old-school child-rearing days with 21st century methods and suggests that there are different ways to learn how to be a mum or dad.
“I grew up in what I would call an aspirational household in that my parents bettered themselves over the course of my childhood. My mother was a radiographer and ended up a lecturer in radiography, while my dad was a sheet metal worker and went up to a supervisory role. I’d still say that you are expected to do a lot more parenting than our parents did and that’s a weird thing because you tend to think that your parents are where you learned parenting from. But you don’t, really, it’s more that you look around you to see what’s going on with other parents.”
For the show Ed extends his analysis on the culture of entitlement to look at areas where we could perhaps do with being spoiled a little bit more.
“Where I think we’re not acting spoiled enough is in the political arena. We have a tendency to accept what’s happening and that’s where we should be acting more entitled: we are literally entitled to the government we want. We’re spoiled in all these little ways, but not spoiled enough.”
As well as stories about his two young sons, Ed weaves in routines about running out of petrol in the most awkward place imaginable, helping rescue an injured man in the Cairngorms, and the nation-dividing campaign and result of the EU referendum. His way of tackling Brexit is to draw an analogy with the time his son was determined to touch an electric fence with his dad trying to warn him of the dangers.
“I was telling the story of the electric fence for a while, and then suddenly it struck me that it was Brexit in microcosm. I don’t want to alienate half of the population or maybe a third of my audience, but it works as an analogy whichever side you’re on. The government told you not to do this and that it would be a terrible idea, but you said ‘no, we want to do it anyway’. So now we’re doing it and it’s proving a terrible idea. I do think it’s a fair analogy, but no doubt for some it will come across as me being a typical liberal elite Remoaner.”
Spoiler Alert also continues a theme that he’s tackled in previous shows, that of his gradual shift from being a working-class Dubliner to a fully paid-up rural-residing member of the middle classes. Where once he would do routines slating 4x4 owners, he is now the proud(ish) owner of such a vehicle. And in the poster for his tour, he brandishes other signifiers of social mobility: a bowtie and chainsaw. “It’s one of two I own: that one is the smaller of the two,” Ed remarks of his chainsaw rather than his neckwear. “I use it for firewood, both for my wood burning stove and also for the barbecue. The first time I used one I was fine, though I think it worried my parents that I had bought a chainsaw.”
Having premiered Spoiler Alert at the Edinburgh Fringe and used the month of August to hone the show, it is fully ready to go. “Being on stage is enjoyable and this part of the writing process is enjoyable. The empty page though is a scary thing. On the first leg of the tour l’ll do about an hour and 15 minutes, plus I’ll have a support act. I keep a tour diary now of places where the curries are disappointing and where they are good and where audiences have been good before.” With such an extensive series of dates ahead, chances are Ed Byrne will be coming to a town near you soon. Go and spoil yourself.
A list of tour dates can be found here:- http://edbyrne.com/live-dates/