We first encountered Nathaniel Metcalfe in Edinburgh way back in 2009. Out of all the comics we saw that year he was the one of the few who really stuck in our minds, thanks to his brilliantly deconstructed jokes and unique delivery. From the very first second he walked on stage and said “Hello gang!” he had won us over. We had a chat to him about his first solo Edinburgh show and his Edinburgh experiences of the past (and films).
Hallo Nathaniel. How are you?
I’m fine, thank you very much for asking. How are you LOLdon?
This is your first full hour at the Fringe. What made now the right time?
Well the truthful answer is it’s because I wanted to do it last year but I wasn’t organised enough to get it ready in time. All the Fringe deadlines are so early that I would’ve had to apply sometime in the mid-1990s in order to have a show on by 2012.
Your show is called Enthusiast. Should your audience expect an hour of non-stop excitement about life and things?
It’s more of a celebration of obscure pop culture.
I should have just said yes shouldn’t I?
What are you enthusiastic for about the Fringe this year (please note the clever use of ‘enthusiastic’ there)?
I’m really looking forward to see what David Trent does next. He’s both one of my favourite acts and one of my favourite people. He’s a truly exciting performer and everyone should see him. I’m also very keen to see Ivo Graham’s show. I saw him do a short set recently and thought he was absolutely brilliant.
You’ve been at the Fringe before doing shorter sets. How have you enjoyed those, and what have you learnt?
In 2009 I did a free show with James Acaster and Jake Moore. We were so far away from the main hub-bub that we found it almost impossible to get an audience. If no one turned up it was almost a blessing. Mainly we were performing to 4 or 5 people a day and it was very difficult, but the three of us are probably better friends today because of it. Jake all but quit stand up off the back of it and James is probably still my closest friend in comedy aside from the obvious exception of my girlfriend.
In 2011 I did a double-header with Chris Boyd on the Royal Mile. We only struggled for an audience on a couple of occasions but otherwise with very little effort we managed to get decent audiences and I loved it. I really relished the opportunity to be able to develop material over a month, and by the end of the festival when everyone was bleary-eyed and dreaming of home I felt that I could carry on doing it forever. It was just the perfect place to do stand up.
I’d say if you’re a very new comedian and you choose not go to Edinburgh you might as well not be in the game. Definitely do it if you can. The opportunity to gig there is immense and if you want to get better then it’s the best crash course you can do.
You’ve been described in reviews as “Stewart Lee on ecstasy”. Is this a view you agree with, and have you ever seen Stewart Lee on ecstacy to ascertain if this is true?
It’s very flattering of course, and made all the more amusing in the context of the old Lee and Herring sketch about Norman Wisdom on acid:
What other shows are you looking forward to this year?
Loads. I like to try and see as many shows as I can. All the obvious ones like Acaster, Nick Helm, Bridget Christie, Wil Hodgson, Ben Moor, Tig Notaro, Brett Goldstein, Mike Wozniak, Josh Widdicombe, etc. Also I finally get to see full length shows by people I haven’t seen enough of such as Romesh Ranganathan, Ian Smith, Amy Wright, and John Kearns.
But most of all I’m looking forward to seeing all the shows from the people I forgot to mention above, especially those reading this wondering why they didn’t get a name check.
At the Fringe in 2011, you went to see Planet of the Apes on opening day. Are there any films coming out in August you are looking forward to seeing?
Wow. You’ve got a very good memory. Well, I am very intrigued to see The Lone Ranger with the racially questionable casting of Johnny Depp as a Native American and it goes without saying the Alan Partridge movie too.
Thanks you Nathaniel
No. Thanks you.
Nathaniel Metcalfe: Enthusiast
August 3-24 (not 14), 2.35pm
Cabaret Voltaire (venue 338)