Fringe comedy debut: Phil Ellis

The comedian appears for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013


This article is from 2013.

Fringe comedy debut: Phil Ellis

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut?
‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T DO IT!’: most comedians.

What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice?
‘Always remember that the audience are only there because the comedian off the telly who they wanted to see has sold out.’

Imagine this is September: looking back at August, what would constitute a successful Fringe?
By mid-September I hope to have secured my own TV show with Sky and to have at least 48 new Twitter followers. If this does not happen then the whole thing has been a failure. Oh and I want to meet Bradley Walsh.

In krugerrands, how much do you expect to lose during the Fringe?
Hmmn, despite being a massive fan\victim of all kinds of segregation in the past, I don’t feel that converting my losses into this currency is appropriate. Instead, I shall tell you how much I am going to lose in terms of semi-skimmed milk. After much calculator-related work I have discovered that I will lose enough milk to fill Preston North End’s Football stadium 11 times.

Back in the old days, there used to be a thing called ‘the festival shag’. Is this ancient tradition likely to play any part in your thinking during August?
I wasn’t back in the old days, thank God. This sounds bloody awful. Does it involve human contact? Eurgh! The only tradition I will be taking part in is the ‘kissing corporate arse’ one. I have a new smile prepared for when I need to wow a Sky comedy boss.

Back in the old days, comedians would drink alcohol solidly for a whole month and still manage to get out and do their show every day: how much are you likely to imbibe per day?
I did have a drinking problem a few years ago. I couldn’t get enough of it! Ha ha. Joking aside though, I did actually have quite a serious drinking problem but I have now been alcohol-free for almost a year. I am hoping to only drink champagne on the day that they announce the ‘best newcomer’ nominees. Alcohol can affect my onstage performance in different ways. If the audience are drinking copious amounts, they tend to find me a lot funnier. If I go onstage after having a few too many drinks, I will generally start crying within about 10-12 minutes. Sometimes I howl.

What qualities do you expect from a Fringe venue?
I have a very strict list of requirements for any Fringe venue.
1. Venue must have a roof! You’d be surprised how many don’t these days.
2. Doors must open and close. I have had many a door close on me that has never re-opened.
3. Human door staff. I once tried to cut corners with this by using a dog. It was one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had since I tried to save money on chair hire by only allowing in those street performers who look like they’re sitting on a chair when there is in fact no chair.
4. Good voice sound. Without it, comedians are just mime artists and that would never succeed in Edinburgh.
5. Nearby bar. Let’s get the audience as relaxed/drunk as possible. It’s always so much more fun to perform to a room full of drunkards.
6. INSURANCE. After the third lawsuit, you get wise to this necessity.

Will you read your reviews before your run is over and if so, how do you think they will affect you as a comedian and as a human being?
I will read the reviews before and after they have been released (I know people). If they are bad reviews I will simply acquire every copy of the publication and alter the score. Sometimes reviews read like a one-star but actually get five. People only ever really look at the stars anyway. When I am browsing through a copy of Total Film in WHSmith before I get on a train, I go straight to the star rating, no time for words. Bad reviews will make me sad and good reviews will make me happy.

Next year, will you consider returning as a double act?
Depends on whether or not I give up comedy. If I do give up comedy, I will definitely return as an improv group.

Do you undertake any superstitious rituals before going on stage?
Yes, and I’m glad that you asked me this question. I always peek a look at the audience before lights down (this could be lights up) and think of the various ways I would dispose of their bodies if the gig went horribly wrong again.

If you were about to perform at the Fringe for your tenth year, where would you expect your career to be at that point?
In decline.

Underbelly, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, 3–25 Aug (not 12), 5.25pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.

Phil Ellis - Showreel 1

This article is from 2013.

Phil Ellis: Unplanned Orphan

  • 4 stars

Lee Martin for Gag Reflex. Phil's life was going great. He'd lost everything in a break-up, moved into a shared house in Manchester, been asked to leave his full-time employment and had just turned 30. It was at this point that his parents felt that the time was right to tell him that he was adopted. It wasn't, but it…


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