Welcome to the first in our series of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 interviews, with some of our favourite comedians at the festival this year.
We saw Carl Donnelly at the Pleasance at Edinburgh in 2014 (so long ago now), and thought he was superb.
This year, he brings his latest stand-up show Bad Man Tings to the Pleasance Upstairs from 3-28 August (show starts at 8:30pm). More information and tickets available here.
We caught up with Carl to find out a bit more about his Edinburgh stint.
Describe what the Edinburgh Festival means to you (in no more than three sentences).
The Fringe is my end of year exams. Every year I do a show as a way of taking stock of what’s happened since last time. It’s where I am at my most creative and excited to be on stage.
How many fringes have you done?
This will be number 11 (in a row). I’ve been coming up since I was a fresh faced open spot in 2005 and was in single figures for gigs. 2006 was the first time I was involved in a show. 2009 was when I did my debut solo show, and I’ve been doing them ever since.
What’s your top tip for surviving Edinburgh?
Take it seriously but also be aware how irrelevant it really is. Always keep in mind that very few people outside of the fringe are paying attention. That makes it easier to keep your ego in check if it goes well. It also makes it easier to not spin out when you have tough days or a bad show.
Do you think comedy acts feel they “have” to do Edinburgh or they won’t be taken seriously? Can the pressure take the fun out of it?
I think there is pressure on comedians to do the Fringe but that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to have somewhere we can all go with our new shows each year where we know there is a willing audience.
The pressure only takes the fun out of it if you allow it to.
Why did you get into comedy and how long have you been doing it?
I fell into comedy in 2004/5 following a series of jobs that were tedious. I had always been a fan of comedy but had never seen live stand up. The first time I was taken to a comedy club I saw it and right then I knew it was what I wanted to do.
Over the next year or two I started seeing more and more and looking into the reality of doing it. When I finally did it, I knew it was for me.
How much of what we see on stage is you, how much is an onstage persona? I don’t have an onstage persona?
It’s me but just the extra confident version. I’m glad there is a split though as if I was the on-stage me all of the time, I’d be so annoying.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
My favourite film is Magnolia.
Your show’s called Bad Man Tings. What’s it about, and why should we come along?
It’s about me hitting my mid 30’s and realising I’ve become pretty settled and boring. The show then charts me working out what I can talk about now that I’ve put my years of anxiety and mayhem behind me.
It’s early days but I think its pound for pound the funniest show I’ve ever done at the fringe so you should probably come and check it out.
What’s been your biggest success and your biggest challenge in the world of comedy?
Biggest success is a difficult one to pick as there are new ones constantly as a comic. One moment I suppose that jumps out is getting nominated in Edinburgh 2013 for the main comedy award. That was a nice surprise.
The biggest challenge is the constant attempt to better your previous material. That should be the driving force as a comedian. Every show you do should be better than the last.
Anything else we should know?
I’m really bad at these questionnaires. I recommend coming to the show, it’s way more interesting than the answers I’ve provided here and is very funny.
We agree, by the way (not that you are bad at questionnaires – we loved finding out a bit more about you. The bit about people seeing your show – we agree with that. Get to it, folks!)