Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Interview: Markus Birdman

Standup comedian Markus Birdman is performing his latest show Love, Life and Death at The Stand at Edinburgh Festival before going on to tour in 2012/13.

Was the concept of being a stand up as a career something that was a gradual realisation or did you have a moment of clarity and inspiration?

A gradual thing I think. I had been to art college and been in bands and struggling to find my feet in a creative career. A friend suggested stand up and i had a go and it seemed to gain more momentum than other creative ventures. I’m still getting away with it. I just want to live a creative life and avoid a proper job

How did this show come together? Do you write desk-bound or work up ideas improvised at gigs alongside your stronger material that can support it? 

Yes a mixture of desk bound toil and then working on that on stage in more organic way. Then those ideas go back to the desk and are worked again. So it’s a cycle for me.

The show, as a result of the material, has a strong narrative arc and seemed to resonant strongly with the audience, did you have any fears about using such personal material particularly about such an emotive subject? 

Well i think 95% of the time audiences really appreciate the openess and generosity of it and i am delighted that it resonates them. However if the audience doesn’t respond well you feel more disolutioned than you would if you just talking about your balls or Coldplay.

Who are the comedians you admire, (or have admired) and why? 

I like people like Peter Sellers and Ronnie Barker. Honestly i get more inspiration from musicians. Having said that i was really inspired by Simon Munnery’s show this year.

What are your ambitions within and beyond standup?

Pretty much to avoid ever having to get a proper job. Everything else is gravy.

Lots of comedian’s talk about a regional variation in audiences, to what extent do you agree with that and how do you manage these variations?

I don’t really agree with that. I think the most important variant is the room layout and how the audience have been treated by the people running it. If you treat people badly they usually behave in kind. And viceversa.

What was your most successful and most horrendous gigs? 

There have been many highs and many lows. And that will continue. I tend to judge in a batting average kind of way

Do you feel (as some do) that Edinburgh works as an annual comedy shop window, and how does it effect your work as a performer? 

Honestly, i have no idea how edinburgh works or what it’s supposed to be. I think you have to work out what you want from it. For me it makes me write more. There’s nothing like a deadline.

What are your feeling on the stadium performances in 2,000+ seat venues? 

I’ve only been to 2 and they were both very disappointing. Comedy is better in a more intimate envronment i think. But that would be true of any event. The more popular something is usually the less creatively interesting it is.



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