Damian Kingsley Q&A – Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Edinburgh, the Fringe, why bother?

Sentence, Structure, why bother? I only know about Comedy at the fringe and this is a simplistic division but I think most comics fall into two main groups. The first go because the Edinburgh fringe gives them a unique opportunity to develop as artists – to explore and push the boundaries of the form they’re working in. The second are a group of superficial, careerist, panel show wannabes who see Edinburgh as a spring board to fame and spend more time brown-nosing producers and agents at the Loft Bar than they do working on their shows. I’m very much in the second group. 

What have been the nuggets of inspiration behind your show this year?

My show is the prequel to next year’s show which will be about the penniless Knock Knock comedy tour for Shelter that I’ve just finished. 120 shows from Land’s End to Edinburgh with no money or transport. This show is not about the tour but the story behind why I decided to do it. “Knock Knock” is about my life unravelling pretty quickly last year. I lost my job, broke up with my fiance and lost my flat all in a very short space of time. Luckily, I had the safety net of being able to go back to my parents. Lots of people – people I’ve met on this tour – haven’t had anyone to fall back on. The show is about how life can change overnight. It’s about trust, the way people change and how easily life can make us lose track of who we are. 

Stand-out Fringe moment to date?

A great moment was when Tom Stade came up to me in a bar and in front of a very well known comedy club owner and proceeded to tell me how great my set  was the night before and that I had “absolutely smashed it”. I hadn’t had a gig the night before and I’m pretty sure Tom was thinking of someone else but I was gracious about it and thanked him. 

When you wished a hole had opened up in the ground and swallowed you up?

A group of people came up to me going mad about how great I’d been that day. To be fair, I had done well so even though the praise was a bit OTT, I took it. Me and some other comics had a few drinks with them and I was getting bought loads of drinks and basically started thinking I was a rock star until they asked me to “do my card trick”. Again, not me. My mates spent the next hour or so taking the piss, asking me to do various magic tricks, until the group realised and walked off in disgust.  

Your unsung heroes in the industry at current?

I think it’s unusual for someone to be really good and not be a sung hero. Acts tend to get where they deserve to be sooner or later but that usually requires a bit of singing from agents, PR companies etc. I think there are a lot of circuit comics who should be better known – Carey Marx, Jeff Innocent and John Hastings, for example. I worked with Athena Kugblunu a few times on my Knock Knock tour and thought she was excellent. If we’re talking about the industry as a whole, I’d say that the bookers and agents like Julia Chamberlain, Delphine Manley and Bobby Carroll are unsung heroes. They work their arses off and they don’t do it for money, just a sheer love of comedy and it’s not easy dealing with comics and their massive egos and lack of even the most basic organisation skills.  

Three shows you must see this Fringe? 

John Hasting’s show, Integrity. Athena Kugblunu’s Reality Check. And, obviously, Daniel Kitson’s work in progress show.  

The one person you’d love to see your show and why?

I’d like my best mate, Dan, to see it. He’s done well for himself but he’s become a bit of a smug prick recently and when everything went wrong for me, he did what most British men would do – offered no support and brutally took the piss. There’s a chunk of my show that I’m really proud of – I think it’s a really incisive and articulate deconstruction of what a pretentious twat he’s become. I think it’s really funny but much more importantly, I think it will really upset him. 

The reason why one should come and see your show?

One should come to see a masterclass in comic storytelling and self delusion. Or, on a serious note, to have fun and support a great cause – I’ll be doing a voluntary collection for Shelter at the end of each show. 

The one thing in Edinburgh you must do? 

I don’t think you have to do this but I highly recommend going to Bonsai, if you like Japanese food. Really good Okonomiyaki. 

Ah sorry, you’re dead. But least you can have that dinner party you’ve always wanted. Who are you inviting? 

I think a good mix would be the poet T.S.Eliot, Gollum from Lord of the Ring’s, Virginia Woolf and Chopper Read.


Damian Kingsley Laughing Horse Bar 50 15:30 All voluntary donations go to Shelter.

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