Who the hell are you and what business do you have in Edinburgh?
My name is Stuart and I am a stand-up comedian doing his second show. First was called “Stuart Laws absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead (1hr show)” and my new show is called “Stuart Laws. When’s this gonna stop? (1hr show)”.
You’ve been giving one of the best venues and spots the Free Fringe has to offer. Someone must have quite a bit of faith in you?
The Banshee Labyrinth at 2:20pm on the PBH Free Fringe is a really damn good slot and room. It’s exactly what I wanted and I feel very lucky to have got it. I would say that the faith the PBH team have in me is similar to Tom Cruise’s in Xenu. At one point he thought: “Oh, this new religion seems like fun, I’ll give it a go.” Now, years down the line it would be too embarrassing to admit that he made a mistake, so he’s gone the other way and is acting as if it’s all of us that have made the mistake and he’s the only one who knows what’s going on.
What is it about the Fringe that makes you want to perform here and how long have you been doing comedy at the Fringe?
I started performing comedy in 2006 and genuinely had no idea where all the comedians went to in August until 2010, when the comedian Anna Freyberg told me the truth and forced me to go for a few days. In 2011 I did my first ever full run in Edinburgh, with the excellent David Hannant and Anna, it was actually at 2pm at The Banshee Labyrinth and I had no idea how lucky I was to be performing in a good room, with packed audiences. That was what made me want to come back, the fun I had performing day after day, in a room you know, with material you feel comfortable to experiment with. Plus, I’ve got three children there and it’s nice to see them once a year.
How do you woo people on the streets and into your dark lair?
Pay a flyerer.
Describe your perfect audience member? (Optional)
You put optional next to this question but I think that’s also the answer. I want an optional audience member, someone who had the choice to not attend but did attend. I’m a huge fan of freedom, genuinely, I know a lot of comedians and people in general are against it but I properly, actually think that freedom is a good thing. I also like audiences who have seen Dante’s Peak, Terminator, Donnie Darko, Dunston Checks In and the music video for Iris.
What’s the best/weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at the festival?
In 2011 I was on stage, mid-set, when a man dressed in a balloon Dalek costume waddled past the door to the right of stage. Entire audience saw it and I didn’t, but I knew something special had caught their eye so I ran out the room to find out what it was, caught the Dalek as it was trying to get up The Banshee Labyrinth stairs and dragged it back into the room. Somehow that show ended with the man inside the Dalek costume engaged in a butting competition to find out who the alpha male in the room was. It didn’t end badly, despite all the possibilities.
How do Fringe audiences compare to ones from your neck of the woods?
They seem more willing, like they’re there to watch some comedy, rather than come and judge some idiot they haven’t heard of. Mostly they seem more comfortable during a bit they don’t necessarily get and don’t immediately stare at you like you’ve got no idea what you’re doing. That’s a big deal for any comedian, they seem to trust you a bit more. The Free Fringe does weird things because it can make a big difference to how your perceived by an audience, and even reviewers I think. An audience can nip into my show at 2:20pm, knowing the biggest risk they’re taking is that they only laugh a couple of times in an hour, so when they realise it’s got three laughs then they’re blown away and delighted they took a risk. If it goes badly they just think you’re a nutcase who blagged a free room. With paid venues there’s that implicit understanding that at some point someone signed off on you as a comedian or performer.
What’s the best/worst heckle a Fringe audience has thrown at you?
I haven’t really been heckled in Edinburgh. My shows are quite open to audience involvement at various points, several routines use a small bit of audience interaction as the start – but it’s guided so that the audience member will normally say what I need to move the show on. It’s basically me getting an audience member to say something that I wrote to make everyone think I’m really good at improvising. I’m not though, I’m terrible, I even had to write this down before saying it loud.
You’ve just been trapped in an elevator with a ‘critic’ who panned you and got your nationality wrong. How would the next hour pan out? You also might happen to have a rusty tin opener in your back pocket.
For the record he gave me the best pull quote I, an English comedian, could ever receive: “Natural comedian…amiable Aussie…Kill me now”. When people say mean things about you it’s tempting to say and do mean things to them but it’s actually my favourite review I’ve ever had. And I’ve had good ones. I promise. I PROMISE. It would be really funny to be stuck in a lift with him because it would be a chance for me to do a double bill of my previous show and my new show and do it all in an Australian accent.
With exception to your own show, who do you recommend people go see?
In the Banshee Labyrinth Cinema Room we’ve got a real treat of a triple bill. 1:10pm Chris Boyd, 2:20pm Stuart Laws,3:30pm Chris Coltrane. That’s worth an afternoon of your time, just stay in the same seats, refill your drinks between shows. There are some other shows that I have minor involvement in that also happen to be amazing and well worth your time: James Acaster, Toby (feuding sisters sketch show), David Trent. Also, at the same time as me Nathaniel Metcalfe (in the Cabaret Voltaire) is doing a new show and he’s properly brilliant and the amazing Ben Target is in the room downstairs from me. Late night treat would be Lou Sanders 10:30pm at The City Cafe. Aside from that I recommend that you don’t go and see a chiropractor, most people don’t realise it’s nonscientific and not supported by any clinical research evidence. Go to a doctor, see a medical specialist.
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