Mark Dolan on his new stand up show Life Hacks

Tell us about your Fringe show

It’s all about those ingenious little shortcuts that make life more pleasant. For example, banish odd-sock chaos by only having one type; always order an extra portion of fries with a meal because someone will always nick a few of yours; and if you’re buying a picture frame, leave in the photo of the generic family if they are more attractive than your own. I’m 42 now and this show is everything I’ve learnt about life so far. The show is guaranteed to make you laugh, change your life and give your hair a noticeably shinier complexion.

Best thing about the Fringe?

Where else can you have your own show every day for a month, all in the same beautiful place? It’s basically touring for lazy people.

Worst thing about the Fringe?

All the flyers. Sorry Amazon rainforest….

How many years have you been coming to the Fringe?

Since 1993, which is amazing, because I’m only 28.

Favourite Fringe venue?

Gilded Balloon, #OBVS! Actually there’s a very authentic reason why that’s true. I did my degree at the University of Edinburgh. I had a fabulous four years in one of my favourite places on earth, Auld Reekie. Teviot Row House was my student union bar, a place where I fell in love, and also vomited, many times. It happens to be the same building where I’m performing my show this year. Spooky! Some of the vomit is still there, near the downstairs bar. Apologies.

Best Fringe memory?

My first year in 1993, performing in the Edinburgh University improv troupe The Improverts. I was a baby, with my life ahead of me and with absolutely no idea I’d wind up doing this for a living.

Best heckle?

ME: “Hey guys, where should I go after the show?”


Craziest on stage experience?

My first ever gig. I had no material. I did an hour.

What’s on your rider?

Sprite, jumbo cashew nuts and 500g of Meow Meow.

How do you wind down after a show?

500g of Meow Meow.

What do you love about Scotland?

The history, the landscape, the cities, the people, the education system, the pubs. And those slightly burnt rolls you get. What are they called?

What do you like about Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is one of the prettiest cities in the world, suffused with culture, great architecture and the stunning natural backdrop of Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland Hills. And there is a pub every 38 seconds. What’s not to like?

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

Hated the English.

What kind of jokes do a Scottish crowd seem to respond to?

If you are being intelligent and making a valid point, Scots will allow a harshness of humour that is rarely seen down south. The Scots can take a bit of rough and tumble, understanding that you’re just playing. However, if what you’re doing is cheap and gratuitous, they’ll have you for breakfast.

Favourite joke?

My wife and I have started role-playing. She dresses up as a ‘naughty nurse’, and I dress up as her ex-boyfriend Steve.

Favourite Scottish food/drink?

Any pint of ’80, but ideally McEwans ’80, from a cask. Food wise, it’s got to be haggis, neeps and tatties. That was my staple lunchtime food as a poor hungry student in the 90s. You can move mountains after a plate of that stuff. I didn’t. I went for a nap. But it’s the thought that counts.

Mark Dolan’s new stand up show ‘Life Hacks’ will be at the Gilded Balloon Sportsman everyday at 8pm for tickets go to