DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Firstly, where did the character of Juan come from?


  I first made up the name "Juan Vesuvius" some 20 years ago when I went to a Porn Star themed party... and you had to make a suitable name up. I thought Juan Vesuvius was great, because it implied a certain amount of.... eruption.



Did you immediately feel comfortable as Juan?


Juan took a bit of time to develop... I got to actually start exploring who he might be when i was asked to do some roaming street theatre, and was told to go to a costume hire shop and hire anything I wanted. I saw a Calypso shirt and immediately fell in love. Once i had the name, and the costume, Juan came pretty easily.



This show isn't for everyone. A fellow reviewer didn't enjoy it ( his loss). Did it feel like a risk for you?


Yes, it is a risky show... it has lots of elements of gamble in it, but I do that on purpose. I like to feel that things could go either way... that I am at risk of losing people. It makes you work harder as a performer/guide.  



The opening section is in Spanish. Are you a fluent speaker or did you learn it?


Si, I am a fluent speaker. I learnt Spanish in Paraguay, and also live in Barcelona for a year.  



My first day at the festival featured a fairly harrowing play, a play about planning for the future which included operatic singing, a sketch show and "Calypso Nights". An itinerary which I think typifies what Edinburgh is all about. Have you always liked silliness?


Yes. Always. I lived with my older brother for a while when I was 12/13 and he had the complete collection of Monty Python records. I would sit and listen for hours. Then fell in love with The Young Ones, all that great English stuff. But at school I was always writing stoopid stories and making funny cassette recordings with my mates.



Who were your comedy heroes growing up?


All the Pythons, Billy T James, Danger Mouse, Ren and Stimpy



Who would you most like to see in your audience?


Wow!..Ummm... maybe like an old Calypso star like Lord Shorty or Shadow. I met Colin Mochrie last week and hoped he would come but he didn't. I think it would be great if Kim Jong Un came.  



"Calypso Nights" is very much a word of mouth hit. I have seen you all over Edinburgh, do you enjoy inter-acting with people?


Yes. Interacting with people is a big part of the show... you learn from people. You can't just get on a stage and force your art on a captive bunch of brains I don't think. i seek to make people feel they are part of the experience.  



I was VERY involved in your show. Do you make an immediate decision about who you will pick on?


Well yeah, it needs to be a guy, and it needs to be someone in the front row. Once those criteria are filled I then pick the most not-wanting-to-be-played with looking person.  



Have you enjoyed your Edinburgh?


Yes. Edinburgh is like a special sock that you only get to wear once a year, but it has it's own kennel, and when you extract it, and put it on your foot, you feel full of the energy of a thousand Spanish Chick Peas.  



Your show ends at 23.45pm. Presumably, this leads to a late night . How structured is your day?


Well I have to watch myself because I am doing another show during the day, called Strange Resting Places, and that is a beautiful show that everyone should go and see.  



You have been playing for three weeks. How are your energy levels?


To be honest I am pretty knackered. I dream of a giant spa pool... and a team of Colombian masseuses...



So you feel in need of a rest?


See above...



Are there plans for "Calypso Nights" beyond Edinburgh?


Yes, I will be doing a small tour of New Zealand, then Perth Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Comedy Festival and then hopefully South Africa!



When did you 1st come to the festival and why?


I came 3 years ago with my great friend Trygve Wakenshaw to do a show called Constantinople that we did at The Electric Circus and became a cult hit.  



Have you managed to see many shows, yet? If so what have been your favourites?


The Object Lesson was amazing, and also DAVE - which only played twice, by an amazing Australian female performer called Zoe Coombs Mar.



Many thanks & hope you enjoy the rest of the run.




Calypso Nights continues daily at Assembly Roxy until August 25th

Strange Resting Places is at Assembly George Square Studios also until August 25th

Barnie Duncan


The Edinburgh fringe should be about taking risks as a performer and an audience member. When I read the listing of "Calypso Nights" in the brochure, I couldn't picture what kind of show this show. So, naturally I chose this to end our 1st day in Edinburgh. I wasn't disappointed. This is silly, spelt SILLY.


To find out more we contacted Barnie Duncan who knows the host of Calpso Nights, Juan Vesuvius inside out. These are his insights!