Edinburgh, the Fringe, why bother?
The reason I bother is because I get off on seeing tons of different styles and techniques that I don’t see in the US. I’m excited to be in Edinburgh while so much creativity is happening all around me.
Most, if not all, of my American colleagues will disagree with me that it’s worth bothering at all. It seems like European or UK comics use the Fringe to open up gigs over that entire market. Most of the US comics aren’t interested in touring the continent because we have more than enough places to play in North America. But I ain’t going to open up markets. I’m going to learn and to grow.
What have been the nuggets of inspiration behind your show this year?
I saw so many hours at the Fringe last year, but what I didn’t see represented was the style of hour that American comedy is known for. Jokes from start to front with no serious parts and very little overt theming. The through lines in American stand up hours are usually evident only to the performer. And that’s if they’ve even thought about it. Theme is simply not something our audiences look for. So my real inspiration is to show a UK audience what a real American hour looks like. I held off recording my new television special so I could show it off in Scotland before it’s gone.
Stand-out Fringe moment to date?
A 3am mushroom hike up Arthur’s Seat and watching the sun rise just as I was hitting my second wave. That and the story Pete Johannson told on my This Is Not Happening show. So raw and full of emotion while also maintaining hilariousness the whole way. Everybody I talked to who was there felt lucky to have been there for that.
When you wished a hole had opened up in the ground and swallowed you up?
I did a show for some witty Oxford or Cambridge publication or sketch troupe or something. I bombed my tits off in front of all those elderly squares.
Your unsung heroes in the industry at current?
The VERY few people who don’t think about money when deciding what to do creatively. There are some out there. Mostly they’re starving and considering a fallback plan out of comedy. But they’re true artists and when I see it I get inspired.
Three shows you must see this Fringe?
I’m gonna see Steve Bugeja’s show for sure. His was the only hour I saw last year that truly held together from start to finish as one show. Everything served the theme. All the other shows I saw had at least something that was included on funny over belonging. I’m fine with that, by the way, it just wasn’t what I was told would be a UK hour.
I’m definitely going to watch Colt Cabana wrestle at ICW. Maybe more than once.
And then you gotta go see Bill Burr. In my opinion he’s been the guy who most consistently represents that US style of stand up. And he’s doing at the highest levels going right now.
The one person you’d love to see your show and why?
I don’t really think like that. I just want it full of people who want to get into it and really let loose with laughter. I ain’t in to trying to impress individuals.
The reason why one should come and see your show?
If you want to see what American stand up looks like, this is it. It’s not full of puns, serious moments, or lessons learned. It’s more conversational than the shows you’re used to seeing. It’s not clean and it’s not trying to be no clean. But it’s at the highest level of what you’ll see in a club across the country in the United States.
The one thing in Edinburgh you must do?
Climb Arthur’s Seat.
Ah sorry, you’re dead. But least you can have that dinner party you’ve always wanted. Who are you inviting?
It’s like, who’s gonna clean, first of all? I don’t want to do a bunch of dishes. I might want to get Hitler there to pick his brain, but the language barrier would make it less fun. I’d probably just get some takeout and watch TV.
Ari Shaffir: Ari S-P-E-C-T at Heroes at The Hive Cave from 5th-27th August, 6.30pm.