We like Alexis Dubus, we also like Marcel Lucont. We caught up with him as they prepared for his three shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.
2009 was the year DARKCHAT first became aware of the multi-talented
Alexis Dubus. Whilst DARKCHATTERS Phil and Legs chose the rude sounding
"Alexis Dubus - A R*ddy Brief History of Swearing" (nominated for Best Comedy)
Anne, Katerina and Dave selected " Marcel Lucont - Sexual Metro", without
realising they were the same person (reviews can be found in our 2009 review pages).
The following year we joined forces to see Alexis Dubus " A Brief History of
Swearing", which won the DARKCHAT award for Best Moment of the Festival,
for his stunning final appearance which so shocked the ladies they promptly
walked into the Gents toilet! We didn't catch last year's offering " Marcel Lucont etc:
A Chat show" but this year Alexis is back with a new show We interrupted his
preperations to discover what we can see this year and his thoughts on
"The show I' m taking up this year is called CARS AND GIRLS.
It's basically a collection of travel tales from before my stand-up comedy days. I've told a few of the stories at Storytellers Club in the past and this is my attempt to pull them all together into a (hopefully) coherent show. It's been a lot of fun to write, and is coming along very well. I think it's going to be a lot of fun to perform.
At this stage the finished show may include the Nevada desert, UFOs, Ecuadorian bean festivals, truckers, helicopter rescues, an amateur Jesus and the Dutch".
When was your 1st Edinburgh festival?
1998 (student), Shakespeare (William), Tempest (The), Modern (drum 'n' bass soundtrack), 12.00 performance (midnight), 2 stars (The Scotsman).
Why did you come?
I'd always wanted to go to the Edinburgh Fringe - at university I was doing a philosophy & psychology degree, but spending far more hours involved in theatre, comedy and cabaret shows. I was going to just go up as a punter, but saw an ad on the forum that the EdFringe website used to have, looking for performers. I think it was all slightly hastily arranged, which kind of appealed to me. Auditioned for the part, got it, and ended up frantically rehearsing with a really fun bunch of people, then frantically taking it up to the Fringe.
What did you expect?
Well I didn't expect Hollywood to come knocking, when doing a two-week run of a post-midnight Shakespeare play done to death by students, in a Gothic church. And indeed they did not. What I did expect was to have a laugh, get inspired and see what all the fuss was about up there.
How did the reality differ from your expectations?
A laugh was definitely had. What student doesn't appreciate a city whose bars never really close, in a festival full of the world's best performers? The size of it all was pretty overwhelming and we soon realised just how small a fish our little production was. But I saw some amazing comedy up there, which almost definitely spurred me on to go into comedy myself.
What is the best thing about the festival?
The sheer breadth of it. You do get a feeling of being part of something very special, this incredible melting pot of artists from all over the planet doing their thing. And doing the Edinburgh Fringe has, in turn, been my stepping stone for taking shows all over the world and meeting some bloody brilliant people every time, who are now a big part of my life.
What is the worst thing about the festival?
The sheer breadth of it. Unfortunately it's now become almost impossible to make a profit, due to all of the extra charges associated with putting on a show, to sell yours above others - the marketing, the production costs, the venue charges, the obligatory cost of being in the Comedy Festival programme...
One of these years I'd like to take a risk and just cut out all but the fixed costs, just to see how many tickets I sold on the strength of the show, or on how many followers I've built up over the years. I'd love to be pleasantly surprised and have all those extra costs shown up to be unnecessary, but let's see...
What has changed over the years?
A/ For the better – social media seems to have taken over printed reviews to some extent, when it comes to getting bums on seats. I think less people are reading reviews, and more are relying on recommendations from friends / friends of friends. Facebook and Twitter have meant that shows can find the right audience that much quicker, which is great, as I've lost count of the reviews I've read that totally fail to understand what a show's about.
B/ For the worst – The prices of shows have rocketed. I used to try and keep mine below £10, but now I've been forced to rise above that due to all the other costs. I still cap it at £10.50, and stand to make around £2,000 loss each year, but I just know what I'd expect to pay for a one-hour show, and I think a fringe festival really stops being a fringe festival when shows' prices rise to a ridiculous amount, and acts are playing gigantic venues. The Free Fringe ethos is great - I did my first ever solo show as part of it, and had a great time. I think what the Free Fringe struggles with sometimes is being the affordable option for first-timers and a viable option for more experienced acts trying to get media coverage. That said, there's some absolute gold to be found among the free shows - Robin Ince, Nick Doody and Yianni Agisilaou, to name just 3 last year. Maybe we will start to see a shift in the power balance as prices in paid venues get higher and higher...
Roughly how many shows do you see each festival?
I guess I'll maybe see 20 or so shows each festival. I wish it was more but I tend to do a ridiculous amount of extra-curricular activity - I guesting on other people's shows, interviews and general socialising. And after a while it's just nice to go and sit up a big hill to get away from it all, rather than cramming more entertainment into your head. Everyone says it, but for those doing a full run, it's always a week too long. It's never enough to make me sick of doing what I do, but I do tend to over-do it every year, making sure I've got at least a week booked off after it all to sit on a beach and do bollock-all.
What was your favourite Edinburgh show to watch?
Usually anything touched by the comedy hand of Daniel Kitson. One year I got myself a Late & Live pass, when he was the regular host, and would just sit in there in awe. This stuttering, beardy, bespectacled man was the absolute king of a throng of pissed-up locals and feral festival-goers from midnight to 2am (3am if Johnny Vegas was on), and I'd learn more about comedy in one hour than I had done in a whole year of gigging. Kitson was unbeatable as an MC, and, as many comics seemed to find, unfollowable. We'd sit and watch the alcohol-fuelled ebb and flow of various comedians' fortunes over the course of the spectacle (a spectacle that was, at times, more gladiatorial than comedic) - it was quite something to see the big names of the Fringe face this trial by fire. I've always liked watching the shows that divide crowds too - Noble & Silver, The Mighty Boosh, Sam Simmons, Paul Foot...
What was your worst Edinburgh show to watch?
Haha, well I've seen a fair few contenders... I do try to be more discerning nowadays and go on mates' recommendations rather than taking a chance, but back in the day I'd be making full use of my venue pass and seeing as much as I could. It was always a bit tragic to go and see something god-awful that was clearly pulling in more of a crowd than yourself. But I think the prize has to go to a show I ended up guesting on in my early stand-up days, probably 2004. I'm not being diplomatic here, I genuinely can't remember their name, but they were an American troupe peddling a kind of risqué freak-show comedy act. I had to follow a man in a nappy riding a hobby-horse, and a vomiting Pope. "And now ladies and gentlemen, here's some observational comedy....." Not my finest 15 minutes.
Who is your favourite overall performer (s)?
See above (Kitson, not pukey Pope).
I love Justin Edwards as well. He's a great songwriter and performer in his own right, but The Consultants were a superb sketch group and Jeremy Lion is maybe my favourite character act other than Alan Partridge. I don't usually go and see the same show twice, but Jeremy Lion's Happy Christmas was one of my all-time Edinburgh experiences. It was on at about 2pm from what I remember, and as if a giant man stuck in the Pleasance Hut in an undersized children's entertainer's outfit wasn't funny enough, both times I saw it a parent had mistakenly brought a child to the show, a show that featured an insane amount of alcohol consumption, a snowman ripping away its flesh to reveal its inner organs, and a terrifyingly satanic ventriloquist's dummy.
The man was a wreck after a month of doing that show and then the sketch show a few hours later, but it was a fine piece of art to suffer for.
What is your favourite venue?
I love the Spiegeltent, because there's nothing quite like it. Guesting on The Horne Section there last year was an absolute joy - a sold-out midnight crowd with an incredible full jazz band for backing. What more could a performer ask for?
What is your favourite place to eat?
I do like a bit of Maison Bleue, for a treat. I've learnt the importance of getting as many decent meals in as possible that month. I also love the Hula Juice Bar on the West Bow hill by Grassmarket which does amazing soups and fruit smoothies, with tables outside at approximately 45 degree angles, making it impossible to eat off them.
What is your favourite place to drink?
I do like the Pear Tree courtyard on that most gloriously rare of things, a sunny day
What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?
I haven't seen the programme yet so not sure, but I know Sam Simmons and Simon Munnery will be worth catching, as ever. Going to make a concerted effort to visit the Traverse Theatre more this year too. I've never seen a bad show there".
Alexis Dubus is performing Cars & Girls at the Assembly Roxy from August 2nd - 26th
Marcel Lucont is performing Gallic Symbol at the Underbelly from August 2nd - 26th
and hosts Cabaret Fantastique on Friday 10th,17th & 24th at Assembly, George Square
To catch them before Edinburgh : http://www.alexisdubus.com/gigs.html