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Fringe Q&As: Jonny Lennard

Jonny Lennard speaks to HeraldScotland about a cappella pirates, chasing pheasants and gaining independence from his parents.

Tell us about your Fringe show.

My Fringe show is about my career as a children's author and a night spent unsuccessfully babysitting my niece.

How does it feel to be playing the Fringe for the first time?

It's actually my fourth year in a row this year but first doing a solo show. It's certainly a lot harder work this year, there's no one to hide behind with a solo show.

Best live act seen at Fringe?

This year it has to be Alex Horne, his solo show is mind blowingly good. About ten years ago though I saw Flight of the Conchords in a 100 seater venue in Assembly and I was on the front row. That was pretty special and inspiring.

Best thing about the Fringe?

It's about a year's worth of experience crammed into 25 days. It makes you so much better and better shows mean happier audiences.

Worst thing about the Fringe?

Seeing great shows that aren't getting the audience they deserve. Maybe it's become too big, maybe some of the really famous acts are pulling audiences away from less well known acts I don't know. The Fringe should be a platform for talent but sometimes it feels like a bog full of mimes and a cappella pirates.

If you were not a performer/comedian what would you be doing?

I have a full time job working in TV so I'd be in an aggressively air conditioned room doing that.

What do your family think of your show?

They like it. I think I'm lucky in that they would tell me honestly if they didn't.

How do you combat pre-gig nerves?

I have a few superstitions. I don't like to have anything in my pockets and a jumbo earl grey strikes the right balance between calm and caffeine for me.

Worst on stage experience?

Once did a gig in a nightclub where they literally stopped the music and said we're going to have some comedy now. All the people dancing were pretty annoyed and then I stood on a chair and told some jokes. Didn't even get paid.

How do you recover from a hefty heckle? Do you have a set of stock replies?

Thankfully I've never had a really crushing one but I'm sure it'll happen someday. The best advice for heckles I think is to treat it like improv. Always agree with the person if you can then add something to flip the pressure round to them. I like interacting with the audience, there's something really special about the laughs you get for spontaneous humour.

What do you love about Scotland?

I love the borders. We used to have a little cottage near Kelso when I was growing up and I spent some idyllic times riding bikes, chasing pheasants and mucking around in rivers in some of the most beautiful landscape in the world.

What do you like about Edinburgh?

I love the sense of history about the place. The different levels, the winding passages and hidden stairways. It's such a dramatic city that hasn't so much taken over the landscape as had to fit around it incorporate it.

What's the most Scottish thing you've done?

Tried to gain independence from my parents for better or worse.

Who's your favourite Scottish comedian?

I'm a big fan of Larry Dean. I've gigged with him a couple of times and he's hilarious. Plus he's a lovely man, he once drove me home from Grantham when I really didn't have a lot of other options.

Favourite joke?

I'll give you the punchline from it...it's 'I'm a locksmith, and I'm a locksmith'. Google it. It comes from one of the greatest but under appreciated comedy shows of all time starring one of my absolute heroes Leslie Nielsen. Never fails to make me laugh.

See Jonny Lennard - Tale Blazer at the Assembly: George Square during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 25th August. For tickets visit www.assemblyfestival.com.

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