I stumbled across Welshman Elis James at last year’s Fringe. The first time as part of comedy sketch show called Superclump, in which Elis shone out as one of the funnier cast members. His appearance in that show impressed me to the extent that I found time for his solo show- in which he managed to hold his own for an hour of comedic ramblings about life.
This year sees Elis return with another stand up routine as part the wonderful Five Pound Fringe and yes, you’ve guessed it, a ticket will cost you £5.
Tell us a little bit about your show – where’s it happening, what’s it about, why should people come to see it?
The show is called Daytripper, and is about the way I spend time before gigs, invariably being alone in a town I don’t know and with very little to do. It’s also about some of the weird things the UK has to offer tourists and discusses my obsessive side, which can get quite embarrassing. It is also meant to be funny.
What do you think the best things about the Edinburgh Fringe are?
It’s the biggest arts festival in the world, so there’s some really amazing stuff to see. It’s also a superb excuse to drink every day for a month and pretend that real life isn’t happening to you.
What changes have you seen – good or bad – over the years?
I’ve only been going to Edinburgh since 2008 so I can’t really comment, although there were posters from the 90s in my dressing room in ’08 and the prices seemed a lot cheaper back then, even taking inflation into account. I think the Five Pound Fringe is a great antidote for that, as there’s some great acts at an affordable price. On a personal level the fringe becomes more daunting every year, as each year I became more aware of the sheer scale of it.
Where are your favourite places in the city?
Penny Blacks, a pub that doesn’t open until 6am, and Monster Mash on Forrest Road. Something has gone right if my day has involved those two things.
What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s happened to you at the Fringe?
I used to have material about Jim Rosenthal the ITV sports presenter, which he found out about somehow. He was visiting the festival to see his son, and decided to watch my show and see what I was saying about him. About halfway through my set he stood up from the darkness and shouted ‘the first bit was true but that’s a lie’ and we then had this shouted discussion about my set which a lot of people thought was set up, but took me totally by surprise.
The bouncers at the venue were Australian though and didn’t know who he was, so I had to stop him being chucked out, and by doing that all the non-sports fans who didn’t recognise his voice suddenly realised what was going on, and that I was being called to task about my jokes by the subject himself.
It was absolute bedlam but he bought me a drink afterwards, and is one of the nicest people I have ever met. It got mentioned the next day in The Independent and The Daily Mail, which I’m quite proud of. I had watched him on telly since I was a kid, so it was quite strange hearing him say ‘oh I don’t know about that’ whilst I was on stage talking about him.
Describe, if you can, your ‘average’ Edinburgh Fringe day…
Wake up, panic. Am told what extra gigs I have booked. Boil the kettle, walk around in circles for a bit having forgotten what it is I’m meant to be doing. Reiterate to people that I don’t want to read reviews, eat a joint of lamb. Throw most of the lamb out of a window, try to work out why I did that. Do the gig. Post mortem in my head, go for a drink. Go home, brush teeth, cry. Repeat.
If money was no object, what publicity stunt would you do to promote your show?
It would have something to do with the Red Arrows, huge amounts of marzipan and Diana Ross.
Who else are you planning or hoping to see?
Golden Lizard, Tom Craine, Nat Luurtsema, John Robins, Henry Paker, Mike Wozniak
What do you have planned after the Fringe?
I am going to have a big lie down for a day. The start gigging again immediately. If I go cold turkey after Edinburgh I become a bit weird, as I will have done 5/6 gigs a day for a whole month. Once the winding down process has reached an acceptable level I will go away for the weekend to a British cathedral city with my girlfriend.
Sum up your show in three words for us
Funnier than war.
Complete this joke for us: “A man walks into a Fringe show…”
…and adjusts his expectations accordingly based on the opening couple of minutes.