So, who were your Comedy heroes growing up?
I was and still am a big fan of character comedians. My biggest hero growing up was definitely Paul Whitehouse who I happened to meet in a lift. I was so starstruck I just stared at him and probably dribbled on myself. The man is so versatile, has an amazing comedic face and a wide range of hilarious voices. My other favourites are Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon from Big Train and Jam fame.
You stage persona is outgoing and self-confident. Is that who you are in real-life?
I would say I am a fairly out going and confident person, but not in an arrogant way. I have definitely calmed down and stopped being so self obsessed since my son was born. Comedy can make you quite insular and anxiety ridden but when you’ve got another person to think about that worry diminishes, not gone, just diminished!
Can you recall your first gig?
Yes, it was in a pub in Southfields in London. I was 17. I remember a female comedian came up to me, it was Shazia Merza and she said that she didn’t like any of my material. Welcome to the supportive and communal world of stand up.
Can you remember the feeling when you earned your first laugh on stage?
Not really, it’s been a gentle progression but one or two laughs in the early days was enough to motivate me to book another gig.
Was a career in comedy a natural and easy choice?
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, hence why I started so young. When I found out you could earn money from making people laugh I was hooked and thought that is the best and only job I could ever have.
Have you ever regretted it?
No, Never! It’s been tough, especially in the early days trying to break through but my goal was always to get booked at the Comedy Store so I had something to aim for. My family and wife have always supported my dream and encouraged me to keep going. Also the NHS therapists that have helped me have been amazing. I couldn’t have done it without all of them.
You mentioned that you recently changed from stand-up to character comedy. Why was that?
I think the circuit has become very stagnant and have felt for a while it doesn’t really allow you to experiment with new ideas and almost crushes creativity. I always dedicated a lot of my stand up writing to creating characters and acting them out in stories. That’s what I find exciting about comedy and with the character I get to do it 100%.
Has it been an easy transition?
Yes, it’s what I love doing and think it comes more naturally to me than doing stand up.
Where did the ideas of a Rabbit Bereavement councillor and a struggling Car Wash from?
When I am not working as a stand up I sometimes work in schools delivering Motivation Workshops on Goal Mapping and Accelerated Learning Techniques. So the idea came from the sorts of characters that inhabit that world. I’ve always had a weird fascination with car washes and thought it’d be funny for the character to own one whilst running a Rabbit Bereavement clinic in a porta cabin out the back.
"Morgan Berry" has existed since 2013. How has the show changed over the last 2 years?
It has developed a lot and continues to develop after every gig I do. I love creating this way. I believe it’s the only way to progress and keep the creativity alive. There’s only so much you can do sat at the computer. A lot of the ideas for this show have been generated on stage in front of a live audience.
I think it is fair to say the audience in Cardiff didn't get the act. When things don’t go well is it tempting to give up or does it make you more determined to continue and try to win the audience over?
I know the character and whole show isn’t particularly mainstream but that’s what I have been trying to get away from. When people like it they really go with it and get on board but when there’s an awkward atmosphere amongst the audience it tends to go a bit awry. The whole show is based upon people buying into the theatrical conceit that they are there for counselling and when that vibe isn’t in the room well, it goes, well, like it did in Cardiff!
Are Edinburgh previews a necessary evil?
I wouldn’t say they are evil, they have to be done and is the only way to break a show in and know what the hell you are doing. It would make Edinburgh a truly hellish and evil experience if it wasn’t for the delights of many awkward and sometimes soul destroying previews.
Can you describe the life of a touring comedian?
Lonely, Exhilarating, Bi polar like moods of epic proportions. When you’re up, it’s the best feeling ever and akin to the greatest high but when you’re down, it’s damn bloody depressing. Overall I’d prefer it from working in an office any day of the week. You also get a lot of opportunity to read and watch the day go by and observe many of life’s colourful characters.
This year you are performing at the Free Fringe. This is great from an audience's point of view as it helps to keep costs down if you watch a lot of shows. Are “ Free shows” looked down upon from "paid performers"?
Things have changed a lot in the last few years. Many established and well respected circuit acts have switched to the Free Fringe this year. Unless you are an act with profile and you can sell tickets I don’t see the point in paying thousands of pounds to perform to a room of 8 people. I say 8 because that’s how many I played to in a 50 seat venue for 7 consecutive nights in 2010. I spent a depressing amount of money on PR and Venue for no one to come and see me. Why not do the Free Fringe, play to a full room and then people pay what they think you are worth at the end of it. Great deal for performer and audience! Unless you have a bad show.
When was you first Edinburgh festival?
2008 was my first time performing for a whole month. I reached the 'So You Think You Are Funny?' Semi finals in the year that Nick Sun Won- whatever year that was?
Why did you come?
Comedy for a whole month.
How did the reality differ from your expectations?
It was mesmerising and still is. Every year I get such a huge buzz from it and it’s a great place to learn your craft and improve in a short period of time.
What is the best thing about the festival?
Performing to an audience that don’t just want cock jokes.
What is the worst thing about the festival?
The amount of crepes I eat. They are great but make me fat.
What has changed over the years?
Apart from the colour of my hair?
A/ For the better – my mental health
B/ For the worst – my waistline
Roughly how many shows do you see each festival? 7-10
What has been your favourite Edinburgh show to watch? Tim Minchin
Who are your favourite overall performer (s)? Tim Minchin and anyone
who does character comedy, and Dr Brown.
What is your favourite venue? The Banshee Labyrinth (cinema room) on Niddry Street. I will be performing there everyday in 2015 from 6pm. I have been in that room for the past 2 years and feels like home.
What is your favourite place to eat/drink? At my flat because it’s cheaper
Who are you most looking forward to seeing in Edinburgh this year? Adam Riches, Max and Ivan, Tom Binns and Reg D Hunter
What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?
How do you keep sane throughout a month of mayhem?
Running and stroking lots of rabbits.
Morgan Berry (Watership Down) is on Daily (not Mondays) throughout the Fringe at 18:00 at Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156)
Morgan visits the London Pet Show