This Is Your Trial speaks to HeraldScotland about becoming a podium dancer by mistake, getting stuck in a lighting rig and finishing a show up Arthur's Seat.
This Is Your Trial is an entirely improvised comedy show set in a court room. I am the Judge, I have an award winning comic as Clerk and two different comics as the barristers each night. The audience is the jury and decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The audience also fill in as the court artist...oh and one or two of them become the defendant too...it's the place where comedy meets Perry Mason, Rumpole of the Bailey, NCIS and the muppets all rolled into one - a glorious riot - just like a court should be.
Best thing about the Fringe?
The best thing about the Fringe is the variety of things - for example I've been doing the improvised This is Your Trial show but also get to do Lion Taming in a Circus, plus my solo show Hellfire (Pleasance Dome 6.40pm), then host Late and Live, Comedy Club for Kids and tell stories late a night in a book shop - where else on the planet could you have such amazing variety and fun in a single day?
Worst thing about the Fringe?
I've said it before and I think it's a thing that is a problem - there is a lot of people making money out of things they shouldn't be here. The Fringe used to be a place where you could try things out - and still should be that - but it now costs money to try things out - a lot of money - you can end up having to work for the next 3 years to pay off venue, promoter, marketer, tech suppliers and at each point in this chain those involved say they're not making any money either - someone is making money, I've just never quite fathomed out who it is...it's certainly not the performers…
How many years have you been coming to the Fringe?
This is my 18th Year - it's been a major part of my life putting together shows to make people laugh up here - my Great Aunt was in the audience at the very first Edinburgh Fringe Festival so being here is something of a family tradition…
Favourite Fringe venue?
I've been lucky - I love the Pleasance Caberet Bar (I've done my flanders and swann show there for many years) - it's just a nice space dynamically - but the box where we do Trial and the venues shaped like it (theres a couple - the pleasance beside is similar, as is the attic) are great spaces to do comedy as the audience are right up close, you can feel them breathe and the laughter rocks the room - I'm in a lovely room for Hellfire too - it's one I've not played before but I'm loving it (ten dome)
Best Fringe memory?
The places I've put myself and the people I've been with from floating down the water of Leith on an inflatable, winding up in the cells (in a miscarriage of justice), becoming a podium dancer in a night club by mistake, the list is endless - a lovely example has got to be finishing a show with Andrew Maxwell by carrying him up to the top of Arthur's Seat - the audience came too - which was awesome of them - we burnt a wickerman on the way - met and flyered the police sent to stop us making it to the top and then I bugled the reveille (a bugle call to wake people up) from the top of the Seat just as the sun came up over Edinburgh - it was just the magical light over this magical city and a single bugler inappropriately early in the morning which was all a bit incredible - there have been so many situations like it but that's a good example.
Man on front row turned to the man on the row behind him and in a really cross voice said 'would you mind not laughing so loudly, there's a man up here trying to be funny!' That's great.
Craziest on stage experience?
Again the list is pretty endless - there have been some things that should never have been seen or happened but that's always what happens if you work in the way that I do - I throw myself into an evening on stage like it's the last one I'm going to get - anything could happen - and that's a way to get the best from myself and the audience - from me getting stuck in a lighting rig (less than ideal) to me finishing a show up Arthur's Seat (as above). A man from the audience revealing he held a record for putting coins into a sensative area - sharing that talent (it was a late night show and I begged him not to share that talent so of course he did) to two members of my audience getting engaged mid way through the show. Comedy is an amazing life affirming vibrant thing to be doing and if you love your job - anything can and should happen…
What's on your rider?
There's a rider? Who gets a rider at the fringe? Someone call someone and ask them about riders...I don't even get a runner let alone a rider…
How do you wind down after a show?
Being a judge is quite exhausting (they say that - I'm not sure they're right) so I like to have a little post justice chat with m'clerk very often which sets me in good spirits - then I set myself firmly in good spirits in the senior judges drinking room (any bar in Edinburgh) and crack open the whisky…
What do you love about Scotland?
It is a very special place - I love it so much I married a native and that's been a very good choice.
What do you like about Edinburgh?
It is stunning - and is the only city like it - it's like a complex snakes and ladders puzzle played out over many levels - take a wrong turn and you're at the bottom of the board again...but if you find a ladder it's a place where you can feel on top of the world - so many amazing things have happened here in my life and I always can't wait to get back.
What's the most Scottish thing you've done?
I'm not sure - I've spent time in Leith Police Station which certainly seemed pretty like trainspotting but then at the other end of the spectrum I've had haggis in the New Club overlooking the Castle - which seemed pretty Scottish too - I have to say I love the bagpipes and would happily have a piper follow me round all day - they are great. It's difficult to know what's 'Scottish' I'll have to ask an American they seem to have several ideas about it. But what could be more Scottish than being a judge - Scotland is legendary for shaping the laws of the world - so I'm going to say that...being a judge…
What kind of jokes do a Scottish crowd seem to respond to?
Funny ones - definitely the funny ones...they tend to boo the others...rightly…
There are several - the balloon headmaster is one I've loved since being small - come, see the shows and I'll tell it to you I promise...thanks for reading...
See This Is Your Trial at the Assembly George Square: The Box during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from until 24th August. For more information visit www.assemblyfestival.co.uk.