Stephen Carlin Blows the Lid Off the Whole Filthy Business

This article is from 2009.

Stephen Carlin Blows the Lid Off the Whole Filthy Business

David Pollock chats to Stephen Carlin, a Scottish comic praised by the higher echelons of UK’s stand-up fraternity. So, why is he more worried about shatterproof rulers?

With a title like Stephen Carlin Blows the Lid off the Whole Filthy Business, the Airdrie-born comedian is promising a lot. So exactly which lids can expect to find themselves being blown off this August? ‘I’m trawling through life and my past experiences to try and find out what’s the biggest lie I’ve encountered,’ says Carlin. ‘That’s been fun and there have been plenty to choose from. We’re talking about anything from Magna Carta and the concept of freedom of speech to really mundane, everyday things like shatterproof rulers. I want to question why rulers were high on the list of items to be made shatterproof, because I wasn’t aware of a high incidence of ruler deaths before this happened. I also came across one woman on the telly who said she’d lived through the war, but then I did the maths and realised she must have been about three at the time. I question her commitment to the war effort, frankly.’

Carlin agrees it’s strange he didn’t start doing stand-up until he had moved from Scotland to London seven years ago (he’s now 33), but he doesn’t know if he would have started at all if it hadn’t been for the Big Smoke. ‘I think I really needed London to push me over the edge,’ he says. ‘When I came down I was just working in office jobs and temping for the civil service, and I couldn’t really handle the place without an outlet, which was stand-up. I wrote sketches when I was a teenager, but I’d never actually performed before.’

Of course, his location is also an advantage in that he’s right at the heart of the UK comedy scene, and has already supported Stewart Lee and Stephen Merchant on national tours. Lee, in fact, rated him highly enough to place him in his The Ten Best Stand-Ups in the World Ever show at the Bloomsbury Theatre last year. Time to judge for yourself how serious a claim that is.

Stephen Carlin, The Stand III & IV, 558 7272, 7–30 Aug (not 17), 7.20pm, £7 (£6).

Stephen Carlin Blows the Lid Off the Whole Filthy Business

  • 3 stars

One of Stewart Lee's ten best ever stand-ups, Stephen Carlin returns to the Fringe with a brand new hilarious stand-up show. 'Sharp and original.' -**** (List).

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