Fringe comedy debut: Russ Powell

  • The List
  • 6 August 2013

This article is from 2013

Fringe comedy debut: Russ Powell

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

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut?
I don't think it just applies to the Fringe but to doing stand-up in general, but one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from Imran Yusuf whose simple wisdom was to ‘just have fun’. That and my best friend telling me to ‘not be rubbish for the whole month’. I'm always one for constructive criticism.

What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice?
My mum telling me not to stay up too late whilst I'm up there. My show’s at 10.45 every night. Bless her.

Imagine this is September: looking back at August, what would constitute a successful Fringe?
I think a successful Fringe for me would consist of a combination of vastly positive reviews, exposure on all the major media outlets, maybe a cheeky award nomination or two and my own prime-time TV series. Failing that, returning home with some semblance of my sanity intact and having lost a bit of weight from all the walking I'll be doing would be a success for me.

In krugerrands, how much do you expect to lose during the Fringe?
Firstly, I had to google what a krugerrand is. I thought it was something to do with Nightmare on Elm Street. Secondly, I've been lucky in that I secured a development deal earlier this year so the money from that is paying for the majority of my Fringe expenses. However, I've still got to feed myself for the month and with a krugerrand currently worth about £900, that'll cost me about four or five I reckon. Six if there's a burrito restaurant near my flat.

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 don't think my fiancé would be too happy about me bringing a load of carpet back home.

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'm not a massive drinker to be honest, but I'm sure with their being no need to drive anywhere and having lots of friends in close proximity, a fair few pints will be put away over the duration. I tend not to drink before I go on stage as I like to keep sharp to deal with any 'more vocal’ audience members. Having said that, I will get trollied before I do Late‘n’Live on the 21st just so I can get through it.

What qualities do you expect from a Fringe venue?
The key three of proper sound, light and stage need to be there. I like Fringe venues to be quite intimate too as I like to engage with the audience fully and it adds to the personal, confessional nature of my show. I'm in the Pleasance Attic so I've got all those things nailed down really.

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 definitely will read the reviews. With social media and things like that, they'll be almost impossible to ignore so you may as well embrace that and give them a read. Whether I pay any attention to what they say though depends entirely on how complimentary they are. I don't think reviews would affect me too greatly if they were negative though. I'm confident in the quality of my show and one person’s view shouldn't cloud your self-belief. If multiple negative reviews come in though, well …

Next year, will you consider returning as a double act?
With the progress in cloning it could be a possibility. I don't know if people could handle two of me for a whole hour though.

If you are in a double act, will you consider returning solo next year?
So I'd have to then dump my own clone? I don't think I could do that to him. Poor old Russ 2.0.

Do you undertake any superstitious rituals before going on stage?
It's not so much a ritual but I always listen to music on the way to a gig, and I'll get obsessed with a certain number of songs. They change all the time but at the moment it's 'Can You Give It' by The Maccabees, 'Garden' by TEED, 'Fancy Dress' by Don Broco and 'Ready to Roll' by Philadelphia Grand Jury. Just before I hit the stage though you'll find me pacing back and forward clicking my fingers and clapping my hands, like some kind of bizarre amalgamation of Morse code and sign language. I feel like it gets any nervous energy out and helps me concentrate on my set.

If you were about to perform at the Fringe for your tenth year, where would you expect your career to be at that point?
I don't really like to plan that far in advance because I think if you concentrate too intently on one path and one goal you might miss other opportunities that appear along the way. Why limit yourself to just one area of interest? Having said that, after ten years of Fringeing I'd like to be coming back as a well-respected stand-up, writer and actor and in a position to be playing the bigger rooms to sell out audiences whilst still ‘just having fun’.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 4–26 Aug, 10.45pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£9). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.

Russ Powell Show Reel 2012

Russ Powell: Powell to the People

  • 2 stars

Live Nation Presents…. Join comedy's hottest property Russ Powell as he takes you on a twisting, turning tour through his life, loves and lunches to show you how he's spent his years bringing Powell to the People. Since doing his first gig as a dare just a few years ago, Russ has gone on to perform at some of the biggest…

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