An Interview with Henry Churney and John Wilson


Henry Churniavsky and John Wilson, aka Dickie Dido – now that is a must-see comedy combo!

Hello lads, so first things first, where are you both from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Henry: We are both from Liverpool. I was born in Kirby & live in Liverpool. John lives on the Wirral.

When did you first realise you were funny?
Henry: I’ve always loved comedy. My father introduced me to the Goon show & American Jewish Comedy.  I wrote appx 6/8 years ago 2 comedy sitcoms. 1 about a Jewish family & 1 about a Liverpool Hairdresser. It was only when I found out I could do a stand up course & I could do it.

When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
John: Growing up with a comedian in the Family (Al Dean) always inspired me, and of course being a teenager in the 80’s I had plenty of great comedy to draw from, it fascinated me. It took me a while to find my comedy chops but always wanted to pursue this amazing art form.


So how did you get into stand-up?
John: I had to wait until my 40’s, listening to live comedy podcasts by Brian Gittins and calling in and joining in the madness. That’s when a very close friend introduced me to the Liverpool comedy course ran by the very talented Sam Avery. Following on from that I was invited to Brighton and ‘Stickymikes Frog’ bar to perform at ‘Gittins to know you’ several times working along side Mainstream acts which cummulated In me starting up ‘HooHa comedy’ back in Liverpool with a few friends. This escalated into some big nights for the Liverpool comedy festival working alongside the wonderful Alex Lowe(Clinton Baptiste & Barry from Watford), Tony James (Bobbie Williams), Mark Silcox, Johnny T.Grrr, Top Joe, Darren Partington and many more. Which then lead me to gigging at the 100 club for Barry from Watford’s Christmas on Ice.

You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Henry: Billy Connelly – cook him haggis ( Starter) to make him feel at home what else. A deep fried mars bar!! Mel Brooks – main course – salt beef ( very jewish ) but as a fellow Jew I would include chicken Soup with Matzah balls/ chopped liver with Challa ( Jewish Bread). Latkas ( potato cakes) & kudel to finish. Peter Sellers/ Spike Milligan duo ( desert) – have to be an Eaton Mess.


You are quite the comedy internationalist, can you tell us about your travels?
John: More podcasts again, calling into the ‘Double Special Show’ from Florida with Chris & Cristal Gorges. Having booked a holiday there I was asked to gig with Chris at Coconuts the oldest comedy club in Florida and Snappers in Palm Harbor. I’m very fortunate to gig there every time I return.

Where & when did you two meet?
John: I stepped in to fill a spot for Henry’s showcase gig off the back of his comedy course.

Where, when & why did you & John decide to team up as a comedy duo?
Henry: John was at my first ever gig. He had done the course a while before but came back to help the show. We stayed in touch & I gigged at his club. We kept in contact doing gigs & then we joined forces to do some charity gigs. When I started to think about the Fringe we were chatting & as he had not done it before he asked if we could do a show together. I thought it was a great idea & we spent time thinking of ideas..& the rest … history.

You were at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe, with your “2 Religions 1 Comedy show” – how did you find the experience?
Henry: Incredible is the best way to describe this experience. I was with a London comic Joe Bains. We were blown away by the number of people who came to see us. 3 day shows at Peartree. The first had standing room only. Over 80 came!! The second over 60 & the last day ( it was pouring with rain) we had 50!! It showed me I can do this at a higher level than I thought

What have you got for us this year?
Henry: The show is called “A Jewish Sexagenarian and a Liverpudlian Plumber walk into a bar…” My show is “A Grumpy Sexagenarian. Can it get worse?…Yes He’s Jewish.” Talks about getting through a mid-life crisis and now getting into Old age and being Jewish, that’s been hard! He will cover topics such as Growing Up, Marriage, Being Jewrotic (That’s a neurotic Jew) and even has time to discuss various surgical procedures he has had to go under to be at the Fringe. As for Dickie “9 ½ leaks” – ever see those adult movies where the plumber calls to fix a blockage? Those movies taught Dickie Dido everything he knows about plumbing…and comedy. Dickie is a Plumberer to the stars and has got many famous people on his books. He has even inspired many a song.

What were the creative processes that went into the creation of Dickie Dido?
John: I’ve always been a big fan of character comedy, I just found some glasses a wig and hat, oh and teeth, bingo!

A Jewish Sexagenarian and a Liverpudlian Plumber walk into a bar…

The Place in the Baird

Aug 1-4 (21:15)


An Interview with The Bareback Kings

cast photos The Bareback Kings.jpg

The Bareback Kings are smashing their hilarious way through the gender barrier

Hello Barebacks, first things first, where are you all from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Alice: We hail from London, Birmingham and Canada. We are now dotted around Zones 1 and 2 of London.

Hello, The Bareback Kings. First things first, what happens at one of your shows?
Jules: Essentially, we’re an all-female, drag king, improvised comedy team. In our shows we play the same male characters – Brent, Seb, Dirk, Gary – every time, but the shows are always wildly different and completely unplanned. We never know what to expect! At the top of the show our characters chat up some lucky members of the audience. Then the lads discuss whatever’s on our and our audience’s minds and use that chat as the inspiration for a series of fully-improvised, impromptu comedy scenes. And, more often than not, someone ends up boning someone else.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Alice: To quote Lady Gaga, “I live for the applause, applause, applause
I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause”

Can you tell us about how an improv school works, like Free Association, Monkey Toast and Upright Citizens Brigade?
Rebecca: Well first, there is a challenging entrance examination. If you pass that, it’s on to eight gruelling years of torturous sleight-of-hand training and the occasional game of quidditch. After that, you emerge with new found courage, spontaneity and a degree in wizardry. But, for realzies, each school varies a bit but for the most part it’s around 5 levels. If you’ve done improv before, some schools will let you audition to start at level 2. In level 1, you learn the basics of how to “yes and” and build the foundation for a scene. In level 2/3, you typically learn how to play the “game” of the scene and some more advanced improv tricks. Level 4, it’s the Harold, one of the more complex longform formats. And then level 5 is anything extra, like other formats or openings.

What is ‘long-form improv?’
Jules: To my mind, long form improv is anything that isn’t a five minute improvised game, the type of which you see on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of short form, it’s where my improv life began. Long form has no rules to how you play – you’re not trying to guess something or anything like that. So it’s a looser, longer style of improv.


When did you first realise you were funny?
Francesca: The first time I made people laugh, I wasn’t even cognisant that I was doing so. I am told by my familythat aged 3 or so on our annual jaunt to the pantomime, I was apparently prancing up and down the aisle with my own wand when the fairy godmother appeared, uttering “What you wish?!”. I started dancing aged 3 and have been a performer ever since. I come from a very expressive family of Londoner publicans who always added a little flair to what they were saying and I guess it was just second nature to me. Therefore, when many little girls got the message to sit down, be quiet and not make fart sounds – mine somehow got lost in the post. I always felt I was a little odd and an outlier, as the things I found funny and the way I would act was so different to everyone else. However when I got further into comedy and in particular improv, I realised there were other odd bods like me.


How did you get into comedy in the first place?
Alice: I’ve always loved comedy and I used to write and perform sketches when I was younger. Then I went a long time without it, and I missed it – I ached for it like a long-lost skilful lover. And so I took the plunge and enrolled in a comedy improv class and have never looked back.

Which comedians have inspired you; both old skool & contemporary?
Jules: Once you start thinking about it it’s kind of everyone, isn’t it? Even comics you don’t like inspire you. Constant sources of joy and inspiration include Julia Davis, Flight Of The Conchords and their incredible solo careers, Lolly Adefope, Tash and Jamie Demetriou, Kemah Bob (who also has a drag king alter ego), Luke McQueen, and the inimitable Zoe Coombs Marr.

What are the three main differences between an Improviser & a Stand-Up?
Rebecca: Two make-believe turntables and a tangible microphone.


What are the differences between a bad MC & a good one?
Francesca: A good MC and a bad MC are worlds apart. The worst MC’s are the kinds that create an awkward energy in the room, making the audience retreat into their chairs, making the work of the acts tenfold to get the audience back on side. They can do that by being really aggressive with the audience, by being super low energy and avoidant or by being extremely awkward. It’s also a major bummer if they are too overflowing with praise as it sets a high pedestal you must climb upon before you can delight and then we can all enjoy. The best MC’s are responsive to the audience and create a warm and thriving atmosphere. Audience interaction is fine by me and has reaped some of my peak comedic moments, however it is key to not be cliche and focus on the front row and rely on the audience for it all. They should merely be your stimulus. Also, if someone isn’t into it – leave them alone! When an MC has set the room gently aflame, without doing too much of their material (that can kill the flow) it gives you a machine that’s been running a while, so you can hit the ground running. Being a good comedian isn’t the same as being a good MC. In the way only special folk who have the nature and desire can be teachers, the same applies to MC’s.

What’s the difference between live comedy and the stuff you get on the telly?
Alice: The stuff on the telly is obviously honed and brilliant. But with the live stuff, you get to feel like you’re part of it. Like an in joke with a best friend or your work wife.


Can you tell us about Brent Would?
Francesca: Well he’s a Metrosexual Essex Boy and aspiring YouTuber, on a journey to being woke. Trying hard but often getting it wrong… He is clown, musical improv and stand up all rolled into one denim clad drag king shaped ball. He was born out of my love for drag and the wider LGBTQIA community. I had started going to various shows and I met the divine drag queen Hollie Would, who had me as a co-host on her radio show on Wandsworth Radio. Where we interviewed the marvellous Adam All – who is a an incredible figure in the drag community and a super supportive and talented drag king! Adam mentioned the competition “Man Up!” for drag kings and I thought…maybe I’ll dip a toe in. I did and the water was good! So that was in 2016 and since then he has performed far and wide and has even been on the Telly getting a wicked cool makeover! Brent allows me to push the envelope comedically and to straddle the taste line and push into territories that Francesca gets judged for, which is both exciting and frustrating. Brent is just a total lad, watch out he’ll ask you out…

You know a good improv show when you’ve done one – what are the special ingredients?
Rebecca: Listening, reacting, having fun!


How did The Bareback Kings get together?
Francesca: We were sat having a drink and a chat after a Monkey Toast gig in Elephant and Castle back in 2017 and we started to chat about gender in comedy and drag kings. We all wanted a way to feel less confined by gender onstage, and we wanted to make the audience question how much they assume when they see a female performer step onto the stage. And we all really love drag! One thing led to another with us all giving an emphatic “Yes and…” and The Bareback Kings were born. We knew we wanted to play the same male characters at every show, so we could really dig deep into who they were as people. We started jamming together and finding out our characters’ individual and collective backstories, and then gigged a tonne. We have travelled the globe with the lads and we have so much more room for growth. All teams need to evolve and we are committed to doing so and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our lads.


What are the creative processes behind writing Bareback’s material?
Jules: Our Camden Fringe show is a slight departure from our typical Bareback Kings improvised sets. There will be plenty of improv in the show but we’re also introducing sketch and song for the first time. The creative process is loosely that we each come to rehearsal with an idea – be it a topline thought for a funny premise to a sketch, a script we’ve been working on, a song we’d like to spoof, or a new way into an improv set. We discuss it, improvise around it, get it up on its feet, give feedback, and finesse it together. If required, the person whose idea it is goes away and writes it up. Then we do it in a gig! Sometimes the person who brought the idea loses faith in it, in which case we’ll try to work out how to salvage it together but if we can’t, it’s ok to let it go. We’re lucky in that we can be honest with one another about our ideas, and we also find each other very funny.


The Bareback Kings are performing at this year’s Camden Fringe; can you tell us about the show?
Rebecca: This will be our very first hour-long show! Exciting, I know. The same four lads trying to figure out how to be woke yet still maintain their lad credentials. Since they have more time on their hands, they’ll tackle even more issues through improv, sketch, and song – from how to successfully repress emotions, to mansplaining away the worst male behaviour our audience has encountered. Pop by The Taproom, August 5th and 6th, at 7pm to catch it!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of London…
Alice: Come and see us, it is genuinely a unique hour of your life. We make fun of the worst boyfriend you’ve ever had. Also, I totally look fit as a lad.

The Bareback Kings

The Taproom

Aug 5 & 6 (13:30)


An Interview with Oleg Denisov


The quintessence of satirical stand-up is Russia’s Oleg Denisov

Hello Oleg, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hi, I’m hailing from Moscow, Russia.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
It was early, age 7 or 8, and at the time it was mostly what I was busy with. Then I tried a few times to have a normal life, but failed and came back to the roots.


How did you get into stand-up?
I’ve been writing comedy since school, putting on little plays and sketches, then did the same at University (In Russian Unis comedy sketches and improve form a competitive team sport called KVN – “Club of funny and inventive”, however it’s been neither of those things for the last 10-15 years). Then after a few low-paid and disrespected jobs (like teacher, film critic, data analyst etc) I got a job as a screenwriter, writing additional material for sitcoms and advertising. And after getting fired from there, I decided to take back creative control. So here we are.

You are a graduate in philosophy, has that in any way helped your comedy?
It has I suppose, in a way that both reading and teaching philosophy involves trying to make difficult (or core) idea clearer by putting in into context that’d help a particular person/group of people to understand it. When writing comedy, I go from the punchline (something that I find amusing myself) to the setup, and not the other way round, so my goal there is to make the audience see the stuff from my perspective in order to realize it’s funny in the same way I do. Therefore, understanding of people’s thought processes, what can influence them, and also structuring the routines are the things which are crucial to my comedy, particularly because I come from completely different background and live in a different culture than my foreign audiences. Philosophy (as well as screenwriting) help a lot with those.

Can you tell us about the comedy scene in Russia?
Stand-up is quite new to Russia, in the modern sense it appeared no more than 12-13 years ago, and got popular only after some sketch comedians produced a show called “Stand-up” on TV (what else would they have called it). Since then, and especially in the last 3 years it’s been gaining popularity rapidly, there have been big stand-up festivals in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Lots of open mic nights happen in Moscow every day. However, in terms of style it’s quite different from more developed markets like the UK, there’s no huge variety of styles (as the TV show is mostly the only point of reference to young comedians), mostly it’s either telling short anecdotes or basic observational. However, political humor seems to be getting increasingly popular, even though it’s not allowed on TV. Stand-up comedy in English started about 5-6 years ago in Moscow, there are about 20-25 comedians in town who perform more or less regularly. “Stand-up Cellar” is currently the most consistently popular weekly night that we started at over a year ago. It’s a PWYW show that runs every Friday in a small underground bar at the very centre of Moscow, and we’re really proud of the audience that it has shaped over this period of time. I think what characterizes it best is that visiting foreign comedians hardly need to modify their language, pace or material while performing, even though the audience is usually about 70% locals.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
An hour of magical realism and investigations into human nature, carefully disguised as political satire.

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What research materials have you been using and what have been the creative processes behind writing Russian Troll?
The final version of the show will contain a lot less current affairs stuff than originally intended. The name comes in part from the “Russian Trolls” as a popular news story, and in part from a scholarly version of how the mystical creature called “Troll” was invented by Scandinavian people. It says that in the old times, before people could draw maps, sometimes they would get lost in the familiar landscape at night, and after blamed it on some nocturnal creatures, “Trolls” that had meddled with the landscape and changed the positions of rocks, hills and so on. I find this a good metaphor for modern people getting lost in the landscape of their information bubbles and… well, you can work out the rest.

This is your third appearance at the Fringe – what advice do you have for a comedian making their debut?
Don’t expect anything, don’t worry, just enjoy your time. However, this advice seems to be a lot more relevant (and harder to follow) for people who are returning to the Fringe, like myself.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
This is a show about Russia and the West, Putin and Trump, time and space, and other things that are a lot less definite than they seem.

Russian Troll

Champions of Festival @ The Scotsman

Aug 2-26 (16:40)

A3 Poster Oleg Edinburgh - jpeg

An Interview with Sarah Lee

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Legal wizard by day, comedy genius by night, welcome to the Fringe, Sarah Lee

Hello Sarah, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
North London, born-and-bred. I still live about mile from where I grew up. (The red side not the white and blue side, before you ask).

When did you first realise you were funny?
I was at a party about 10 years ago and a friend came over and said “if I ever need to find you I just follow the sound of laughter”. That made me pretty happy and changed my perspective on myself.

Can you tell us about your day job?
I’m a hot-shot lawyer in the city. That’s not a joke, actually. Basically, if I can’t solve your problems in my day job, I can help you forget about them in my night job.

Sarah Lee - Half a Man - poster.jpg

How did you get into stand-up?
I have always thought stand-up was the coolest ‘art form’, because it’s funny in the moment but it also stays with you afterwards. Something can happen months later and it will remind you of a joke / idea and you can laugh again. As for me, I had a boyfriend who was Belgian. He said to me “Belgian people are not funny. If you were Belgian you’d be a stand-up comedian”. I liked the sound of that. So I signed up for an open mic.

You were a finalist in last year’s Jewish Comedian of the Year. How did you find the experience?
Well Jewish people are pretty damn funny so I was proud to have that accolade. It’s a fantastic competition and held at a really great venue. The judges were household names as well so it was great to meet them.

As a post-Millennial, do you find that comedy is changing, is the material of older comics still relevant?
Post-millennial? Are you ID’ing me? I’ll take that as a compliment. Comedy is changing but like anything, if it’s good it will stay good . I think people are born the same whatever century they are in, it’s just society that changes around us. I’m a liberal and come from a really progressive place, so in my comedy I like to play with the secret voice inside us that wants to be progressive but kinda likes the old ways.


What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Long cycle ride (ooh I’m so sporty), end up in the pub for a roast and a beer (ooh I’m such a ladette), then home for a nap (face down dribbling into mattress) and gear up for an gig in the evening… Actually, in a case my mum is reading this, can you just write “spending time with my family”. Thanks.

You are about to make your debut at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
I’m doing a half-hour show so not my actual debut, but it’s my first full run. I’m a fresh female voice picking up on the nuances of liberal ideas. Also I’m a total goofball who talks about slugs. Something for everyone really.

What are you looking forward to the most about coming to the Edinburgh Fringe?
To when they crown me queen of the fringe and carry me aloft down the Royal Mile chanting my name. Or second to that, probably just how much of a laugh it will be.

Half A Man

City Café: Hollywood Room

Aug 1-25 (15:20)

Sarah Lee - Half a Man - poster

An Interview with Gary G Knightley


If anybody can be toooo funny, Gary G Knightley can!

Hello Gary, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Barking, East London and now live out in the countryside in a village called Knebworth in Hertfordshire. Until recently, I lived in Angel, Islington, just around the corner from the Bill Murray pub which is a great comedy venue.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
When I was 4 I had learned the “why did the chicken cross the road?” joke, and after repeating it to my Mum for hours, I forgot the punchline, panicked and said “because the Donkeys got no head”. My Mum nearly collapsed with laughter and I’ve been chasing that laughter ever since.

How did you get into comedy?
I have always enjoyed performing, and have a degree in Theatre Arts, quelle surprise! The course I did at Uni had a stand-up comedy module, and it hooked me. Due to the fact that I hate learning lines and find the restrictive nature of plays irritating, comedy was a natural option for me.

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You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
I’ve been listening a lot to James Acaster and Ed Gamble’s podcast, Off Menu, so I am very prepared for this question! I’d invite Sarah Silverman, Nick Helm and Johnny Vegas. No explanation needed, they are all great. I’d cook them Greek Mezze starters (is there anything better? I love a stuffed vine leaf). Then I’d move on to sausages, red onions and mash potato for the main, but the sausages would have to come from my local butchers in Knebworth, Trussels. And for dessert, chocolate fudge cake with ice-cream.

What does your mum think of all this performing malarkey?
She likes it. I am always a bit more reserved when she is in the audience, but I showed her Anthony Jeslenik’s Netflix special the other day and she cackled like a drain, so maybe I shouldn’t worry.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It’s the adrenaline I get when on stage. The feeling of not always knowing what to say or how the audience will react but feeding off of whatever reaction I get and trying to make it into something shocking or interesting or funny.

Last Fringe you brought your Twat Out of Hell to the Edinburgh Fringe – how did you find the experience overall?
I really enjoyed last year’s Fringe. It was so great to be doing what I love for nearly 4 weeks without worrying about anything else, and the show did really well – I received some 4 and 5 star reviews and had to turn audience away most days because they couldn’t fit into the room. Edinburgh in August is it’s own little bubble and I absolutely love it… especially the pies from Piemaker and the Brewdog beer.


You’re coming back with the same show – well the Deluxe version – what is different about 2019?
Last year, I did 23 shows in a 30-seater room – thankfully mostly full – so the amount of people who have seen the show is just over 600. I think it’s a good show, and think more people should see it. Saying that, it has evolved and if you did see it last year, there is enough different to warrant a second viewing. The show really feeds off of the audience, which means every show is different (and fun for me).

For those yet to see it, can you give us a brief outline of the show?
I lament about trying to be better, whilst solving the world’s problems in my natural, twatty manner. It also features Meatloaf songs.

Why Meatloaf?
Are you kidding? What’s not to like? I am a big Meatloaf fan, I loved Bat Out of Hell, The Musical (recently on the West End and featuring the songs of Meatloaf and Jim Steinman) and the songs work as a theme running through Twat Out of Hell to help illustrate my twatty ideas.

What are you looking forward to the most about returning to the Edinburgh Fringe?
Beside the pies and beer? I’m looking forward to seeing incredible comedians and performers everyday, being inspired to work harder, write better and hopefully be better.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Usually just the name of the show, Twat Out of Hell: Deluxe, either draws people in or scares them off! So I would shout that at them pretty loudly, and also tell them that if they hate the show they can always enjoy the wonderful culinary delights of City Cafe so it’s not a wasted journey.

Twat Out of Hell: Deluxe

City Cafe

Aug 1-25 (11:15)


An Interview with Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin


On the temporal bridge between comedy & spoken-word stands Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin

Hello Bróccán, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hello The Mumble. Geographically speaking, I am from the North-East’s premier seaside getaway spot, Hartlepool and I am currently living in the North-East’s premier seaside getaway spot, Hartlepool.

When did you realise you were a performer?
Probably when I was about 8 years old and experienced my first theatrical injustice after being robbed of the part of Buttons. I swore to come out on top and went on to appear in not one, not ten, but SIX different pantomime later in life.

Can you tell us about the Durham Revue & your role with them?
Yeah, the Revue is Durham University’s main sketch comedy troupe. I was a writer and performer with them which was a whole load of fun. We got to perform all over the country in theatres that were far too large and nice and we had a full run at Underbelly for Edinburgh Fringe. Laugh Actually, the show we took up, won the Derek Award for Best Sketch Comedy show as well which was a treat and a half.

What is your ideal Sunday afternoon?

You’re bringing a show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
Yeah it’s my debut solo show and it’s called “Don’t Bother”. It’s a unique mix of spoken word and stand-up comedy. It’s mainly surrealist comedy poetry and observations but also includes a bizarre narrative that comments on the direction that fringe shows seem to be heading in and what the pitfalls of that might be.

So its comedy & spoken word, where do you place the demarcation line?
It’s kind of hard to say because the way I write is that the spoken word pieces are an extension of the joke. I pretty much write a stand up segment in which the poetry serves as a punchline. It’s similar to how someone like Tim Minchin uses music, but in place of songs there’s poems.

Where, when & why did you conceive Don’t Bother?
I wrote the show last June after I was offered an hour long slot at a fringe festival in Nottingham. I was looking at all my content and thinking of a way that I could retroactively fit a narrative or superfluous overriding theme to the things I’d written in order to justify its own existence. But then I realised that that was pretty dumb and that I shouldn’t bother. Instead I decided to write a show that embraced the fact that it was all varied material, whilst also highlighting the absurdity of feeling the need to tie everything seamlessly together.

From which inspirations have you drawn for your show?
I’m a big fan of Stewart Lee, Tim Key and Bo Burnham and I think there’s elements of each of them that I really like and subconsciously include into my writing.

You won Best Spoken Word Show at this year’s Sabateur Awards, how did that make you feel?
I was genuinely very, very surprised. It’s a national award and I was up against some big names so the fact that enough people had enjoyed the show for it to get nominated was great. It was something else to actually win.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage?
Thirteen Hail Mary’s and a quick recount of the intense B-boy choreography that opens the show.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
It’s a 5-star, award winning hour of comedy that blends spoken word and stand-up in a unique way. And for the teenage audience members, I floss at the beginning!

Don’t Bother

Underbelly, Bristo Square,

July 31-Aug 26 (12:10)


An Interview with Ryan Dalton


A veritable Doctor Doolittle of Funniness is Heading to the Fringe

Hello Ryan, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hey Mumble! I was born in Berkshire, a small town called Bracknell but let’s just go with, “near Reading”. Now I am living in the big city…..London.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Hmm I guess, and this may sound typical of a comedian, but in school. I always enjoyed being the funny one or trying to make people laugh – however that is very different to doing it on stage. It took me a good few years to properly work out how to write stories & jokes for stage.

Which comedians have inspired you; both old skool & contemporary?
Growing up I used to watch the comedy my Dad watched. This meant I grew up on Tommy Cooper, Morcombe & Wise, Lee Evans & Jack Dee. These were the kind of comedians that first got my attention of how fun it was to make people laugh. Later down the line & the more I watched, comedians such as Lee Mack, Dara O’Brien & Bill Connolly. I enjoyed a mixture of the style of story telling & quick wit that these comedians delivered.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Oh easy. Starting with coffee & pancakes at home. Head out for a long walk somewhere with plenty of wildlife & nature. Then a few Guinness’s in a local pub with some good company. BLISS!

What does your mum think of all this performing malarkey?
I can quote her now. “Oh I love it, however I wish he didn’t have to swear as much as he does.” Mum is proud though, despite the use of crude language.


If your comedy style was a soup, what would be the key ingredients?
Right, first of all I need a story. A base line, like somewhere to start. I guess they would be the onions?
Once I have that I need to add some good analogies & descriptive terms to really set the scene. That would be the sweet potato & tomatoes. I’d practice it again & again, on stage & off. This would be frying it all off.
Once I know the structure of the story, I’d add the jokes & ending. The twist or the main punchline. It has to be the reward to the audience for them sticking with you……this would be the stock. Once it’s all set it, I’ve got myself a new story for stage (or a delicious soup).

You are a regular on the London comedy circuit, how are you finding it?
It’s great. London has a great selection of clubs, all with a variety of audiences. It can take a while to work your way into a club, I’d say that’s the hardest part. Closely followed by keeping the standard up. You’re only as good as your last gig so in one city like London, you have to be on it each time you walk out on stage.

Can you tell us about your life away from comedy?
It can be summed up by one word. DOGS. I run a dog daycare company in North London. Monday – Friday, 9am-3pm, I am hanging out with 8-10 dogs at Hampstead Heath. It’s great & a wonderful business to have on the side of something like stand up comedy. Keeps you fit, fresh & happy. Aside from that you can find me anywhere you can find wildlife, at home baking or somewhere with a Guinness in my hand.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
I’m so excited to be performing my debut show, When Nature Calls. I’m bringing a new voice & a show by someone with unique experience. There’s stories in this show that comedians would have never experienced, such as life as zoo keeper & getting bitten by all sorts.


The Mumble’s dog, Daisy, makes us laugh a lot – but is there any humour in other animals?
Animals are either 1 of 3 things. Cute, interesting or absolutely hilarious & often all 3 of these things. An example of this would be the following facts:
– approx 50% of Orangutans have fractured bones purely from falling out of trees on a regular basis.
– Frogs can’t vomit, in a scenario where they absolutely have to, they will vomit their entire stomach.
– Kangeroos can’t fart.
The natural world is full of humour.

What is the ultimate message of your show?
That we all need to listen to the planet. We all need go back & connect with the natural world again. We all need to stop pretending the environment is another country & realise that the ground we walk on, is also part of the environment…….sorry to get deep there.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell When Nature Calls to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
If you love animals & struggle to tolerate people, this show is for you.

When Nature Calls

Gilded Balloon Teviot

July 31-Aug 26 (13:30)


An Interview with Konstantin Kisin


The Russians DO have a wicked sense of humour…
Konstantin Kisin is living proof

Hello Konstantin, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union, then Russia. I now live just outside of London.

When did you first realise you were funny?
I broke my arm playing basketball and found myself cracking jokes in the emergency room to keep everyone calm as they straightened my arm out!

How did you get into stand-up?
I went to a comedy festival where I saw top tier comics doing clubs sets for 8 hours a day, 5 days in a row and naively thought “That looks easy – I can do that!”.

23509094_10159714357840531_2394626030599129146_o.jpgWhat is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It’s a buzz. I think the most addictive thing about it is that it’s unpredictable. One night you’re killing it, next night you’re struggling. You never know how it’s going to go so it keeps you hungry and sharp.

Can you tell us what you know about the comedy scene in Russia?
There isn’t much of one. To have a genuine comedy scene, you need a freedom scene.

Can you tell us about Kilkenomics & your role?
Kilkenomics invites some of the leading political and economic thinkers in the world to participate in debates hosted by comedians. It’s the perfect place for a political comedian like me!


You’re debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
A show about being in the middle of a major international newstory, being saluted by John Cleese and abused online by Katie Hopkins.

What are the ingredients that make your show special?
It’s a funny but intelligent, informative show that pushes back against woke dogma and restriction of free speech.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Did you see the news story about the comedian who refused to sign a safe space contract? Wait, don’t go!

Orwell That Ends Well

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Aug 1-26 (19:00)


An Interview with Joe Bor


From family & friendship to the Fringe comes a touchingly hilarious show..

Hello Joe, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
North London, I grew up in Camden.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
I could do an impression of my art teacher when I was 16.

When did you first develop a passion for being a comedian?
When I was 18 I started to go to comedy clubs and got the bug.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 11.26.59.png

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, what have you got for us?
It’s the first story show I’ve done and the first show I’ve done about someone else. It’s actually about two people, my granddad and his best friend. It’s called ‘The Story of Walter and Herbert’, about town planner Walter Bor and actor Herbert Lom. Herbert helped my grandad Walter escape Nazi occupied Prague and they were very close for many years until they had a falling out, but something brought them back together.

How did you do your research & most of all, where did you find the humour in Nazi-occupied Europe?
I had to do a lot of research, I had to do a lot of interviews, I read my grandad’s book, listened to a 18 hour interview online and read letters they wrote to each other. On the face of it, it wasn’t particularly funny, but there is comedy in everything, I just had to look deeply and experiment with my telling of the story. What the Nazi’s did is far from funny, but there is still comedy in the story. Just looking at the photographs, the fashion, the relationships, the architecture, my grandad’s obsession with food…I realised there is plenty of potential for laughs. the challenge is in not belittling their achievements and being sensitive to the tragedy that surrounds it. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Can you tell us a little more about the two mens’ careers post-war.
My granddad was in charge of rebuilding the East End of London after the war which was pretty important and then was a town planner for Liverpool, he then designed Milton Keynes and went back to be a town planner for Prague.
Herbert had some big roles in the Theatre, the King and I, before working as an announcer for the BBC after the war, so his mum could hear he was alive and well. He did some heavy dramatic roles in big movies such as Spartacus until Blake Edwards (director of The Pink Panther) said he was funny when he was serious and cast him as detective Dreyfus in The Pink Panther, he did many films opposite fellow comedy legend Peter Sellers and was in Ealing comedies such as The LadyKillers as well.

walter and herbert poster2.jpg

What was your relationship with grandfather like, & how does your show reflect that?
I discuss our relationship in the show. He died when I was 18, and when I was a teenager I wasn’t really interested in him and I am ashamed of that. I was his eldest grandson, I saw him lots and he’d take me to architecture lectures and influenced me a lot but I think we were very distant. I have since realised he had a similar sort of that relationship with a lot of people. He never spoke about his family or his life, probably because it felt too painful.

What advice do you have for anyone performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time?
Find nice places to eat and exercise and nice places to escape the festival, that’s important. Don’t drink too much!

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
It’s a story about friendship, two best friends, who escaped nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, were each others’ best men, had a big falling out but an extraordinary thing happened that brought them back together. It’s a show that I’ve been working on for a while that means a lot to me, that’s funny and interested and heartwarming, if that’s what you like.

What will Joe Bor be doing for the rest of 2019?
I have a few things I am working on, some films and I am doing a big tour with Kojo Anim (finalist of BGT). Hopefully I’ll be touring this show too, I’d like it to have a life after Edinburgh, I feel like it’s an important show.

The Story of Walter & Herbert

Underbelly George Square

Aug 1-25 (16:00)

walter and herbert poster2

Mumble Rumbles (i): That Adam Riches Eruption

By Harry Venning (Guardian Newspaper)

Part One in the very famous trilogy which tells the story of THE MUMBLE via those rather unscrupulous attacks of ne’er-do-wells 

The Mumble is entering its seventh year at the Edinburgh Fringe, & it cannot be denied it has the coolest name, the slickest format & the best reviews. It is also the flagbearer for the revolution in the reviewing spheres that is demanding financial respect for its staff. This led to recent attacks by certain thespian types down south, which reminded the Mumble editorial team of similar conflicts in the past, which we call Mumble Rumbles. As a cheeky warm-up for the Fringe, we thought we’d proffer three of these Rumbles, including the latest one, which indirectly tell the story of the development of The Mumble, from the primitive blog-like beginnings, to our esteemed status as International Cultural Surveyors in 2019. The Mumble was launched in 2013, evolving out of a blog by Damian Beeson Bullen, in which he wrote, ‘Two summers ago, I threw myself headlong into the Edinburgh Fringe, reviewing as many shows as mi little legs could carry me to. This year, I’ve set up my own review site called THE MUMBLE, which means Multi-media Blogging, where you can find here. Now I’ve got myself a wicked wee team of reviewers together & we’re gonna be sampling some of the delights that Edinburgh Fringe 2013 has to offer, so if you’re in town or in Calcutta, enjoy.’

adam riches
Adam Riches in 2014

The Mumble did OK that first year, we were quite basic, but the writing was there. So we did it all again in 2014, which led to what we called ‘That Adam Riches Eruption.’ Essentially, one of our stalwart reviewsers to this day – Mark Divine Calvert – didn’t enjoy a comedian, but gave him an extra star for being from Yorkshire. Suddenly the publicist – Dan Pursey of Mobius PR –  tried to bully us off the review – but we stood our ground which then got the national press involved. Suddenly everyone was talking about The Mumble. In our first proper battle, the result was a win-win, for not only did the incident raise our profile nationally, but the publicist lost his job, with the PR company came back the next year in an apologetic fashion asking for reviews.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Mark’s Original Review

It was a damp and wind-swept night and the welcoming warmth of the Pleasance Dome began to relaxed me into a state of mind ready for comedy. Tonight it was Adam Riches, a successful comedian with more awards that you can shake a stick at. Joining me was a capacity audience who clearly knew what we were in for. Alas I didn’t. With lots of audience participation, Adam humiliated his carefully chosen audience members who were middle class and loving every moment of it. Adam utilises different characters drawn from history, all of whom had a Yorkshire accent, which is a star point in itself. Taking his lead from vintage comedy telly, Adam was silly, pointless and yes, good fun. Which is just what his audience wanted. If you like trashy throw-away telly. Adam’s your man. Two Stars and one extra for being from Yorkshire.

Steve Bennet, Chortle, March 2013

A considered opinion?
Threat to block ‘disrespectful’ blog’s free tickets

A row has erupted on the Edinburgh Fringe after a PR company threatened to withdraw free press tickets from bloggers for not showing enough respect to the comedians they are writing about. Publicists at Mobius laid down the ultimatum after Mumble Comedy wrote a three-star review of former award-winner Adam Riches – saying that if the review was not altered or removed, they would not issue any more tickets, and spread the word to venues across the festival, too.
In return, the blog accused the company of trying to intimidate them into taking down a poor review – saying: ‘We cannot be bullied out of our integrity’. However, some changes to the review, by Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert, were made after Mobius first got in touch – including correcting the spelling of Riches’s name. The row is likely to spark debate over the line between established media and fans setting up an online presence in order to score free tickets.
Mumble Comedy’s ‘CEO’, Damo Bullen revealed the pressure from Mobius in a message beneath the review, accusing them of ‘chucking their toys out the pram & ask[ing] me to take it down’.
He refused saying: ‘Everyone’s entitled to their opinion & that Mark simply could not get into the comedy of Mr Riches.. The Mumble is an honest website, designed to help would-be show-goers make an informed choice. We cannot be bullied out of our integrity.’
Despite Bullen’s defiance, Dan Pursey from Mobius said the review HAD been changed since it first appeared – although Bullen insists any changes were ‘cosmetic’.
Pursey said: ’The original review also contained some very odd references that, apart from anything else, gave the impression our client’s work hadn’t been met with the respect, care and attention it deserved. These have since been removed. ‘
‘We really do support and encourage new titles, websites and critics and like to offer them access to write about our clients’ work where we can. We also totally acknowledge that everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion.
‘But when we initially (very diplomatically) expressed our concerns the site representative was quite uncooperative, and my worry was that this could be an attitude that stretched across the site. I’m sure it isn’t, but had there been more evidence of care, I wouldn’t have had to push quite so hard to get them to pay attention.’
It’s understood that after the original contact from Mobius the sentences ‘Taking his lead from vintage comedy telly’ to ‘Adam’s your man.’ were added, and references to the critic’s urge to go home and ‘listen to his Tricky CD’, and spend more time in his leopard print pyjamas with a large mug of tea were removed.
Speaking to Chortle, Bullen added: ‘Do you know what annoyed me the most – it was his brash, aggressive condescending attitude that wanted to sink my ship when a lot of people – performers, reviewers, back stage staff – have benefited from it.’
Mumble Comedy – a free WordPress blog that uses unlicensed clip art to illustrate the number of stars – was set up for last year’s Fringe and only publishes for the festival. It currently has 140 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
And they haven’t got around to writing their ‘About Us’ page, which says: ‘This is an example of a page. Unlike posts, which are displayed on your blog’s front page in the order they’re published, pages are better suited for more timeless content that you want to be easily accessible, like your About or Contact information. Click the Edit link to make changes to this page or add another page.’

Damian Beeson Bullen (centre) in 2014

Steve Bennet: A Jaded Opinion? By 2019 Steve Bennett is rapidly becoming the Arsene Wenger of comedy reviewing. On three occasions last Fringe I was completely blown away by the youthful talent & bountiful originality of certain artists, whose shows’ names I shall leave out of this wee pontification. Five star shows the lot of them. Yet, a couple of days after my own visitations, Mr Bennett trundled in to see the same shows & is only giving them 3s. Is he observing the same shows that I am? Is he seeing the same hunger of performers in their prime, the same tenacity of talent, the same boundary-breaking of burgeoning genius? Clearly yes, for he does describe each show’s sheen accurately enough – but the substance & magic, definitely not. Once is opinion, twice is taste, but thrice… that doesnae even make the Europa League. Perhaps it is time, like Mr Wenger, for Bennett to retire from front-line duties & leave the reviewing to a fresh generation. Throughout the 21st century comedy, like football, has evolved & it seems like Mr Bennett is stuck firmly in the stand-up of the past, when comedians of today are soaring on the winds of the future.

Back in 2014, the next to get hold of the story was Brian Logan of the Guardian, whose own article on the matter reads;

Critical condition: how comedy coverage at the Edinburgh fringe is changing

As the mainstream press withdraws from Edinburgh, there’s been a rise in alternative voices. Some new reviewers will be learning on the job – just like novice standups

My colleague Lyn Gardner wrote last week about “a critical exodus from the fringe by the mainstream press”, and I share her concerns. The issue is discussed in comedy circles too: I’ve spoken to several PRs who say they haven’t had much to do at this year’s fringe, because coverage in the mainstream press is so diminished. Of course, the flourishing of alternative critical voices online is an exciting development, but perhaps not yet an adequate replacement – as one confrontation last week made clear.

The contretemps – as reported at – was between the arts PR agency Mobius and the website Mumble Comedy, and it concerned the latter’s review of the former’s client, the comedian Adam Riches. Mobius contacted the website to express displeasure at – and request amendments to – a three-star review that lacked “the respect, care and attention [Riches] deserved”. That was met with what Mobius call an “uncooperative” response, which led to the PR threatening to withdraw free tickets from the website. The blog’s editor, Damo Bullen, posted an angry response, insisting “we cannot be bullied out of our integrity”.

The review that caused the fuss can no longer be read in its original form. Mobius’s complaint seems to be, not that it was critical of Riches’ show, but that it was half-arsed (it misspelled Riches’ name, for example). Even the revised version is a little slapdash and impressionistic. But does that justify Mobius’s threatened withdrawal of privileges? And what does the fuss tell us about the state of fringe criticism?

On the former point, I don’t think any publication – not the Guardian, not Mumble Comedy – has a divine right to free tickets. With rights come responsibilities: publications have to demonstrate a degree of professionalism, commitment and (pace Mobius’s complaint) respect. (They probably also need a readership – or the likelihood of acquiring one.) On the latter point, well, there’s clearly a frustration in some quarters that – as the mainstream press withdraws from Edinburgh – acts are ever more dependent on the opinion of often inexperienced and unauthoritative reviewers.

That’s not meant to denigrate amateur criticism, or professional online criticism, which supplies much of the best writing around the fringe. (It’s also worth noting that critics of all stripes have been unpopular with artists since the year dot.) But we should be more explicit about the fact that – as BAC artistic director David Jubb discussed on Twitter last week – “Edinburgh is [the developing] critic’s equivalent of scratch” – ie a place to learn in public, and seek feedback in order to improve.

The them-and-us, /de haut en bas/ relationship between critics and artists (or their representatives) is never helpful, but least of all when many critics have yet to earn trust or demonstrate commitment to the artform they’re writing about.

In that context, dialogue is good. The world of Fringe reviewing is changing, and it’s in everyone’s interest that the new model – which will include a far wider range of reviewers and publications than the old – foregrounds lively and intelligent discussion of the artform. That’ll only happen if all parties speak to one another about what they want criticism to be.

It’s a shame the conversation got antagonistic, but Mobius did the right thing by contacting Mumble Comedy with their concerns. We probably all intuit that some writing – the careful, attentive, “respectful” kind, perhaps? – constitutes valid criticism, and some writing doesn’t. We’ll only know where that line should be drawn if we talk about it.


The Stars we used in 2014

The above image was created in 2014 by the reviewer-reviewer site, Fringepig.It wont be the last time they snorted at The Mumble – indeed, we’ll be looking at our ‘war’ with them in the next episode. But back in 2014 Fringepig & Chortle did actually have a point, & their criticisms gave us a wee kick up the arse. We were young, we were just stepping out, it was all good! By the next year we had figured out how WordPress Menus work, & also designed our own stars, with a lovely M in the centre of each one. We also completely overhauled our scoring system. Where the rest of the review world awarded 1-5 stars, sometimes halving them, we started to award 5 stars in three different categories, from which we could obtain a more natural overall score. Each Mumble would have its own categories – Comedy would be marked on material, delivery & laughs; Theatre on stagecraft, performance & script, & so on. So instead of our never getting a press ticket in town again – As Dan Pursey thoroughly wished – we became instead the most sophisticated reviewers on the scene.


Next Episode: In The Bay Of Pigs