Last week the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner, Doctor Brown [pictured left] popped in to the IdeasTap hub for a chat. He even brought his friend and best newcomer-winner Daniel Simonsen along with him. Here’s how things went down…
Doctor Brown, how long have you been developing Befrdfgth for?
Doctor Brown: I built it in a month, in Adelaide.
Is that where you bought your costume?
DB: No, I bought that in Dubai. I wasn’t specifically building a show for the Edinburgh Fringe when I made Befrdfgth. I went over for the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival and wanted to start from scratch, with nothing. I spent an hour every day improvising in front of an audience. I had nothing but a costume and a set of rules.
It’s scary, but if anything that challenge excites me. It’s totally risky and that makes it fun. You know, I don’t like all this enough to play it safe.
A lot of your children’s show is familiar from your adults’ show – how and where do you draw a line between the two?
DB: Everything in my kids show either originated from my past adults’ shows or from doing spots. With the adults’ show you have to be a bit more protective of yourself. Adults are just dicks.
You have a lot of on-stage authority. Do you think that’s because you’re silent? Because you’re big and hairy? What’s your secret?
DB: Well, I do still get hecklers. There’s nothing I can do – I just stare at them. Maybe because I don’t speak they realise, “Oh, yeah, he can’t defend himself.” Or maybe when you most want attention, you least get it. So I try not to play it for attention. And if people in the audience are trying to get my attention, I tend to ignore them. That’s the best advice.
Both of your shows are selling really well. What do you think makes a successful Edinburgh show? What tips would you pass on?
Daniel Simonsen: Just try not to take it too seriously. Try not to think too much about your reviews – they just give you added pressure. It can be dangerous to have those alerts linked up to Twitter and your phone.
Do you have any advice on coping with the festival?
DB: I’m just sleeping all day. I wake up, do my kids’ show, have something to eat, go home and sleep for three hours, get up, do my adults’ show and then go and see a band or something, or hang out with friends. I feel really bad that I haven’t been to see more shows, but you just have to conserve your energy.
My advice would be to just try to stay relaxed. Get out of the city, go for a walk, take a train out for a trip.
DS: Before my show I don’t do anything. I just sit in the flat.
Are all the performers in Edinburgh quite competitive with each other?
DB: Maybe from the outside it seems that way, but among friends I don’t find it competitive. You’re each doing your own thing.
DS: I think it’s more feelings of doubt, rather than competition. The show will reflect on your mood; if it’s going well then you feel quite upbeat, but if it’s not so good, that can be hard to snap out of.
Can you remember your first paid performance?
DB: It was probably some five-minute spot at a dirty pub in London where I got £10.
DS: I did a show at the Comedy Store; it was a competition where you have to try to do five minutes without getting booed off. I lasted about 20 seconds. And I didn’t get paid. But that was my first gig in the UK.
For more Edinburgh interviews, features, guides, jobs and opportunities, visit our Edinburgh site.
Daniel Simonsen, Champions is on at the Pleasance Courtyard, 7pm
Doctor Brown, Befrdftgh is on at Underbelly, Cowgate at 9.05pm
Dr Brown, Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger is on at Assembly, George Square, at 12:45