An Interview with Sam Russell

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Sam Russell is coming up from London on the sleek, slick wings of the Angel Comedy night. The Mumble caught him for a wee, mid-flight blether …


Hello Sam, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Sam: I am from a place in South London, called Streatham. We are famous for having London’s biggest indoor ice rink, a few nice green spaces and knife crime… All our attractions involve blades of some description. Currently I am on a large bed in a room at Edinburgh Business School on my first day at the Fringe, wondering if I should go back into town or just get as much rest as possible.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Sam: There is an apocryphal tale that at about 4, me and cousin would stand on tables and not tell jokes as such, but say words in the cadence of jokes e.g.
‘Why is the pasta always wet?’
Pause…
‘Because of the tomatoes!!!’
This did get laughs apparently, purely due to the confidence of the delivery rather then the quality of the writing. Something I still somewhat rely on to this day!

Can you tell us about Angel Comedy in London?
Sam: Angel Comedy is just a little bit magic. It started out just as many nights in London do. A free gig, above a pub (The Camden Head, in Angel), once a week. But due to the amazing talent and work ethic of the team its Aslan-like founder, Barry Ferns (see his show, ‘Barry Loves You’ every night of the fringe 9:00pm at The Tron) has assembled. It now owns the top two London comedy clubs on Trip Advisor. The original and their brand spanking new venue, the wonderful titled ‘The Bill Murray’ both running 7 nights a week. Angel runs under a great philosophy, which is basically London can be a massive rip off for everything. But not having much disposable income doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a laugh. It is still free to get in for all of the 8 o’clock shows at both venues, we have a bucket at the end and people pay what they can. What is lovely is you’ll see the student who could only throw in a couple of quid a few years ago, come back after landing their dream job and then throw in a £20. That’ the magic part! If you want to get a taste of that magic at the fringe, check out the Angel Comedy Showcase at 1:15 every day @ Espionage.

What are the differences between a bad MC & a good one?
Sam: A good MC put the night before themselves. A bad MC makes the night about themselves.
A good MC is a charming waiter serving a variety of different courses. A bad MC is a waiter who doesn’t really care about the food and just wants to go outside for a fag.
A good MC is a good parent making sure the bath water is the right temp for baby, not to hot or to cold. A bad MC throws the baby in the tub willy-nilly.
A good MC doesn’t let is show how much it infuriates them when audience members say to them ‘hey, you should try stand up’. A bad MC makes a sarcastic comment.

Can you tell us about Shoot From The Hip?
Sam: Shoot From The Hip is how I got into comedy. I went to Uni at Royal Holloway. There was an improv society there, which I had a few friends in. They kept asking me to give it a go and I kept saying NO. I was going to be a serious actor darling. Eventually they twisted my arm, I did my first show… and never looked back. Shoot From The Hip was born from that group of friends, and since November 2011 we have never gone a week without doing a show. This fringe is actually the longest I’m going to go without doing improv and I am already freaking out about it. The show we do is called a ‘Mullet’. Short up front, Long in the back. Basically the first half is fun improv games like ‘Whose Line’, and the second is an improvised 25 min play. We currently do three shows a week as well as one of theatre shows, for full details check out: Shootfromthehipcomedy.co.uk

What are the three main differences between an Improviser & a Stand-Up?
Sam: 1. You’re alone in stand up. With improv you’re in a team.
2. I think you need to be a special breed of monster to do stand-up. But I genuinely think anyone can improvise, its just like learning to play like a kid again.
3. Stand up feel like being a great stage magician, you know all the moves to make it seem as if something miraculous has taken place. Improv on the other hand can sometimes feel like real magic. Something will happen on stage and we’ll all look at each other and think ‘How the hell did we do that?’

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Sam: 1. 1978’s Superman. I would want something that would make me hopful
2. 2005’s The producers. I would want to laugh and that film never fails
3. A semial piece of pornagraphic cinima. Because I am a honest man

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You are bringing your solo debut to the Fringe, LUCKY BASTARD. Can you tell us about it?
Sam: I started writing this show in January, about how lucky my life seemed and how I had a strange sense of guilt about it. I get to do my dream job, I am married to a very lovely woman and I’m all on the things that we in society think of as privileged: straight, white, male, middle class etc. However in March of this year, something happened that flipped this show on its head (I won’t tell you here, you’ll have to come see it). But it made me takes stock of my life and I began analysing more what luck is. Apart from adding this March event, the content of the show remained remarkably similar: Doing a Elmo voice to piss off cold callers, dealing with estate agents named Chad, meeting my hero… What changed was the perspective. The show is now about how when we are lucky we need to admit it and embrace it. Don’t always be looking for the next thing you want; wallow in the majesty of the wonderful everyday. And also when things are going shit, remember that they can always get better and that if you’ve got a tomorrow to make things better, you are a Lucky Bastard.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Sam: “Hey guys, looking for some comedy! Awesome! Well I’m doing my first show up here, I’m incredibly excited. It’s called Lucky Bastard. Its a hour of stand up comedy that I’ve been working of for the last year. I don’t want to spoil by giving too much away, so I’ll just tell you three things that you can look forward to in the show: 1. A pitch perfect Elmo impression. 2. Handy methods for getting cold callers to never call you again. 3. a philosophical look about what really important in life and how lucky we are to all be alive and enjoy this glorious day together.”

What will Sam Russell be doing after the Fringe?
Sam: Straight after the Fringe I am going to a convention in Leeds called Thought Bubble to pitch a comic book about Adam from the Garden of Eden, living thoughtout all of human existance whilst looking for his wife Eve, who has been kidnapped by God… so you know… normal stuff.


LUCKY BASTARD

Just the Tonic @ The Caves

August 2-12, 14-26 (16.55)

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