Comedy blog

Abi Roberts: Edinburgh Fringe 2016 interview

Abi Roberts edfringe

Hello. How are you today?

Very well, thanks. The sun is out and I have my hat on. I literally just got back from a lovely preview of my new show ANGLICHANKA in my homeland of Wales. Off to sunny Guildford tomorrow for two nights of the same, the oop north for some more at Darlo Comedy Fest. It’s all go here at Roberts Towers. Oh yes.

Are you ready for another month of Edinburgh Fringe action?

Sure am. I have my Berocca, I’ll be taking up some fresh veg and fruit (as this is hard to come by in Edinburgh) and I’m pumped about getting some deep-fried Mars bar-stroke-deep-fried pizza action. It’s always months of build-up and then the comedy explosion and full-on head buggeration that is Edinburgh. I’m back at the same venue we packed out last year, the Voodoo Rooms in West Register Street, so bring it da fuck on.

At this stage, how closely does your programme blurb match the content of your show?

Very close. But no cigar. It’s easier this year for me – last year I did an hour of material…you know, stuff I do in comedy clubs over 30 mins. This year, I’m telling the story of how I went to live and work in Russia in the 1990s when I trained to be an opera singer and how I went back earlier this year to become the first UK stand up to perform in Russia in RUSSIAN. Sorry Eddie (Izzard). I didn’t have to learn Russian, I already speak it and this is the story of how I narrowly got out alive..back then and recently. My shows are always slightly different to the Fringe copy as the deadlines for the Fringe programme seem to get earlier every year, but it’s pretty close, mainly as I’ve been wanting to do this show for ages so it’s been in my head for ages.

What are your tips for getting people to see your show?

Put on a show and make it as funny and unique as possible. That’s it. The best shows are always word-of-mouth shows that everyone is talking about. I’m not into deconstructing comedy or doing a piece of performance art. I don’t use props, read from a book or use powerpoint or a flip chart. It’s not a fucking business seminar, it’s comedy. The words and story should be what engages people and makes them laugh. I pack my shows out because I take people out of the shit that’s happening round them. Fuck knows with everything that’s going on politically at the moment, we need it. With this show, people may actually learn something about one of the biggest countries on the planet…as well as piss themselves laughing at a description of a Russia dog who was trained to use the family toilet.

Who are you sharing a flat with this festival and how will you help each other survive the month?

My hubbie, who also produces my shows. But I will be seeing lots of mates to keep myself sane… like Juliet Myers, Grainne Maguire and Holly Burn who are all splendid people to be around. Aside from the usual showcases and extra gigs I usually do to promote the show, I’ve got a few things happening in Edinburgh which are huge for me, so I wanna make sure I get a good night’s kip. My hubbie also keeps me sane during Edinburgh and makes sure I get to places on time. He stuffs vegetable and fruit into my cakehole to make sure I’m getting my five a day and he reads any reviews…I never do…ever. Not even the good ones. Not even later in the year. In fact, I haven’t read a review for ages. Not mine or anyone elses. I’m of the school of thought that reviews make sod all difference, so what’s the point of reading them?

Any shows you’re particularly excited about seeing?

I’m really excited to see Kirsty Newton’s show, Life Begins At Party which has also been directed by one of my favourite stand-ups, Phil Nichol. I will also be going to see my mate Carey Marx’s show Hero Of The People and Carl Donnelly’s Bad Man Tings. I will also be doing what I usually do – wandering around on my day off with a copy of the PBH Wee Blue Book and choosing a show at random to see. This is the best way to see Edinburgh shows – you could see gold, you could see not gold.

Other than the great shows, what else are you looking forward to about your trip to Edinburgh this year?

I’m looking forward to the music side. Before I did stand-up I was a session vocalist and recording artist, so I love my music and will be seeing a lot of music and bands in Edinburgh. I’m also really looking forward to seeing mates up there. The nature of the comedy business is that you only ever see people you know for about 15 minutes in a green room at a comedy club..then you don’t see them for months. Or you see them like, ten times in one month and then nothing for 18 months. I had Romesh Ranganathan on my chat show MUSICAL CID in 2014 (it’s about comedians and their music collections). We sang Paula Abdul together at the end. I hadn’t seen him since then and then all of a sudden, three gigs together on the trot. It’s a weird business.

Salt and sauce on your chips?

Yes, but occasionally gravy. I’m married to a Geordie. And I like a good ole sausage as well. Battered. Don’t we all?

Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it.

OK. Unashamed sales pluggery coming up: my show is on at the Voodoo Rooms in West Register St (venue 68) at 4.15pm. Get there early as the queues can be a mare. It’s called ANGLICHANKA (which means “Englishwoman” in Russian) and it is a comedy show about living in the former Soviet Union, studying opera in Moscow in the 1990s and returning to Russia this year. I talk about…oooh lots of stuff …hardcore Russian vodka, minus 20 degree temperatures, my “adventures” with a Soviet soldier Dimitri, Putin and Gay Rights and the perils of eating borsch on an Aeroflot flight after seeing an engineer banging the wing with a lump hammer. In the show, I ask important questions – did I play a part in the break-up of the Soviet Union? Did I get to sing opera for Gorbachev in the Kremlin? Did I see a Russian bear shit in the woods? Will Moscow ever have a Gay Pride march? Come and find out what Russians think of us and our strange habits, what we think of theirs and discover what we need to know about the country described as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, freezing its bollocks-ov”.

I’ll also be filming a little something with Igor Meerson, (the Russian stand-up whose just starred with Andrew Maxwell on a show on Radio 4), called “When Abi Met Igor” during the Festival. Look out for that on my YouTube channel and Facebook page!

Abi Roberts: Anglichanka
Voodoo Rooms
6-28 Aug, 4.15pm

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