Comedy blog

Ivo Graham: Edinburgh Fringe 2017 interview

Ivo Graham laugh out london

One of the most dependably brilliant comics around, Ivo has been going for years but is still frighteningly young and increasingly looking like he will be one of the biggest names in comedy in the UK.


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

Let’s cast an eye over that blurb, then, shall we?

After an eventful year off (got a new laptop, etc), the boy’s back in town with resolutions galore but less courage in his convictions than ever. How much has Ivo learnt? And what good has it done him? As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, As Yet Untitled, Live from the BBC, Fighting Talk. ‘Honed to within a whisker of perfection… a joyous show’ (Evening Standard). ‘Sharp punchlines, topper gags and the unmistakable sense of a young comic finding another gear’ (Scotsman). ‘Like Hugh Grant’s less well-adjusted younger brother’ (Guardian).

Well, then.

After an eventful year off (got a new laptop, etc),

All factual so far. I didn’t go to the Fringe in 2016, and have cannily decided to highlight that fact in an attempt to herald my new show as a Glorious Return (possibly after some sort of online petition?) rather than just another narcissistic fling of the dice. Now, having neither the time nor the inclination to divulge full details of the Fringe-free fiesta that was my 2016, I’ve kept the “news” section of the blurb to nothing more than the casual status-signifier of my new silky-smooth, wafer-thin, ethically dubious MacBook Air, the computer with which I wrote the blurb and on which I’m writing this blurb-blurb now. Did someone say Inception?

the boy’s back in town with resolutions galore but less courage in his convictions than ever. How much has Ivo learnt? And what good has it done him?

And, here it is, the blink-and-you-miss it glimpse into the possible content of the show. What does it tell us? Next to nothing. Resolutions galore, yes, some of them to do with the show, but mostly to do with things like making it funny, and arriving at the venue on time every day so as not to steadily sour relations with my technician (see 2013-15).

Lack of courage in convictions? Well, specifically that the aforementioned resolutions won’t be fulfilled. I mean, the show itself actually does deal with issues of self-improvement, principles, etc, but I’m yet to see one that doesn’t, certainly not from the whinging bunch of millennial navel-gazers with whom I’m in direct professional competition. If anything, the suggestion of “learning” is, in a very literal sense, the only hint of USP I can cling to at this point; with just a few days to go, I’m now about 75% sure the show’s going to include a quiz.

As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, As Yet Untitled, Live from the BBC, Fighting Talk. ‘Honed to within a whisker of perfection… a joyous show’ (Evening Standard). ‘Sharp punchlines, topper gags and the unmistakable sense of a young comic finding another gear’ (Scotsman). ‘Like Hugh Grant’s less well-adjusted younger brother’ (Guardian).

That’s quite enough about the show, thank you! Still got to write most of it! (Then and now, as it turns out). Time for the “credits and quotes” section, always sweet manna from heaven in blurb-writing season: not just the chance to brag about things people have been generous enough to put me on / say about me, but more importantly, to power-drill my way through what remains of the word count. Full disclosure: the quotes are about my 2014 show, as 2015 was less favourably reviewed: however, they’re all excerpts that reflect the general tone of the pieces they’re drawn from, which will hopefully spare me from inclusion in any catty listicles about comedians misusing the ellipsis.

Have the momentous events of 2016 affected your comedy in any way?

I must admit, with a heavy heart, that there may well be a point in my show that I draw a link between all the “heavy shit that’s been going down” (exact wording TBC) and my various “resolutions” as teed up in the blurb. As with any attempts to blend the political and the personal in a comedy show, there will be nights where grown men are weeping into their tank tops at the sheer structural beauty of it all, and nights where the sanctimony honks like a festival toilet.

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

(Patrick) Turpin: lager, (Jack) Barry: lager, (Fin) Taylor: lager, sometimes cider.

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

I’ll inevitably try and wrangle my way into some sort of “comics vs critics / comics vs industry / comics vs any other group of assorted squares” football, or cricket, or any other sport bar rugby, and make a legend of myself through either the brilliance or abjectness of my performance. Score a stunning overhead kick, or slip over and knee yourself in the face: as cousin Jasper says, there’s no value in anything in between.

What celebrity death hit you the hardest in 2016 (mine was Wogan)?

My friend Ed and I were driving past a sign to Rickmansworth about three years ago and he suddenly turned to me, with the wryest of smiles, and said “I wonder what Alan Rickman’s worth?” It really made me laugh, and I’ve thought fondly of it every time I’ve driven that stretch of M25 since, occasionally even trying to pass the witticism off as my own to someone else, with far inferior delivery and far inferior results. Now that the great man has left us, you would have to refer to his earnings in the past tense, so the joke doesn’t scan any more. A damn, damn shame.

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

“The star, who appeared in screen hits ranging from Die Hard to Harry Potter, left an estate worth more than £4 million. His will specified that the bulk of his wealth go to his late wife.”


Ivo Graham: Educated Guess
Pleasance Courtyard
2-27 Aug, 8.15pm
£10-£11

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