So, John how are you feeling about another Edinburgh festival looming?
Ambivalent! I’m playing Hamlet, The Dark Room is gearing up for a colossal Fringe after a five month residency in London and its own slot at Udderbelly Festival, taking out the Argus Angel in Brighton, getting named Director’s Choice at Bedford Fringe - and A Nifty History of Evil has been completely re-written since its 2010 appearance… so I’m a mass of nerves/ neuroses/misery/unexpectedly lovely things to put on the poster.
Where are you currently and what were you doing before starting this interview?
I’m in the secure London citadel that I rent from some licensed con artists. Before starting this interview I was learning why a paper towel is not sufficient protection against the heat of the oven tray.
You have previously performed " The Dark Room" and " A Nifty History Of Evil" at Edinburgh. Have the shows changed at all over the years?
The Dark Room is a living, breathing thing, so it changes from show to show. A Nifty History of Evil lay in a cocoon for four years and emerges now as a beautiful butterfly filled entirely with poison.
Is it interesting re-visiting old shows?
Kinda, I don’t feel like I’m doing that, though - I haven’t looked at the original Nifty History since 2010, so the 2014 version should be its own savage entity. It’s interesting to return to an idea a few years later and see what time has done to your perception/ability/ central thrust, though. I have a tattoo now. My thighs aren’t as fat. I’m less of a nihilist than I used to be. On the plus side, believing in something doesn’t dilute your edge, it just means you get to say more interesting things than, “Everything sucks.” Specifically, you get to say exactly why everything sucks - and then go home totally unconcerned about that, mostly because your thighs are great.
Do you need to preview these shows?
Nifty needs previewing. I’ve got to get the bit about the various Kennedy assassinations just right, otherwise it’s just some kind of tragedy.
Can I ask why we have had no new material from you recently?
Well, after writing four new solo shows in two years, I thought it’d be good to focus on just one thing in 2013. Now, however, the usual impulse to do too many things has overtaken me once again, so now I’m Hamlet, Nifty History of Evil, The Dark Room, I write my segment on the TV show Videogame Nation etc etc etc sleep when I’m dead etc.
You perform a lot in Australia & the United Kingdom. What, if any are the main differences in the audiences & venues?
Australian audiences like colour, sound and movement and have less tolerance for chummy chaps spouting endless invitations to beige conversations: “Hello, how are you? What do you do, sir? And you, madam? Uh-huh-uh-huh. Right. Hello, sir. What do you do?” UK crowds have been trained since childhood (panto and sometimes church) to function as one unit. On a good day, that means they follow instructions perfectly. On a bad day, it means they all chant, “Off-off-off!” at the same time. Of course, if you don’t leave, they do run out of options… except for projectiles, but they usually can’t throw too hard, as an absence of Vitamin D has left them weak. WEAK!
Difference with venues?
Not too many. U.K theatres tend to have their seats closer together… though the eccentric venues are worlds apart. I’ve never performed inside a giant purple, inflatable cow in Australia, but then, I’ve never had to stand on a table in a tent in the middle of the desert in the UK.
When we first saw your show you spent a lot of time interacting with the audience. Is this a part of your show that you enjoy?
Yeah. I like people. I’m not really running off a script, so it’s nice to sweep crowds into the stream-of-consciousness. You paid to see me, and I’m glad to see you. Let’s have some fun.
What are your memories (good and bad) of last year's festival?
All the memories of last year were pretty good. Dark Room at Underbelly Cowgate did well, so we’re back there again… the reviews were fabbo… my face was on a couple of rickshaws that went everywhere… the only thing that was bad is we thought the people we were renting the apartment off had left some of their sex toys in plain sight, but it turned out our imaginations were busy and our knowledge of exercise equipment pretty limited.
When did you first come to Edinburgh and why?
I turned up in 2010 after a quick visit in 2009. I came to do exactly what I wanted to do in a place where I could do that. It turns out you can pretty much do anything you want pretty much anywhere you want, anytime - the world respects money and madness that bathes - but so, help me, if you want to experience real funsies, go do your favourite things in Edinburgh.
What did you expect? I expected nothing. I got plenty!
What is the best thing about the Edinburgh festival? Best thing? Your pals. Adventure. Crowd-surfing as follows wordplay.
What is the worst thing? Oh, the sad desperation of other performers.
What is your top tip for surviving this month of mayhem? Avoid the sad desperation of other performers.
Who is your favourite Edinburgh performer (s)?
Big fan of Brendon Burns, Bob Slayer, Colt Cabana, Lisa-Skye, SET LIST, The Mechanisms, Glenn Wool.
If you could change one thing about Edinburgh what would it be? More pakora.
You can book tickets to see John and find out more information at the links below