Fringe comedy debut: Mark Smith

  • The List
  • 24 July 2013

This article is from 2013

Fringe comedy debut: Mark Smith

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?
'Don't drink too much'. This year I'm really going to try and follow this advice; I think I'm going to try and be as dull as possible. I'm pretty sure I'm a better performer when I'm not on a hangover being sick. Although that advice will probably go out the window upon arrival.

What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice?
'Pack your shorts and flip flops, it's gonna be a scorcher'.

Imagine this is September: looking back at August, what would constitute a successful Fringe?
I think becoming a better stand-up is the goal and doing an hour every day can only help. Aside from that it would be great to sell a few tickets and try not to lose my mind.

In krugerrands, how much do you expect to lose during the Fringe?
I worry that if I actually write down how much it will all cost then I will consider it a real amount of money. It's best to just pretend it isn't real money but instead 'comedy tokens'. Real money could buy all sorts of things: a holiday, a new Xbox, some new earrings for grandpa, loads of stuff. Comedy tokens can only be spent on Edinburgh. And that's how I have to think. Ridiculous.

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 so.

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 normally have a pint before the show just to relax me a little bit. Then after the show all bets are off. But as I say I think I'm going to try and be a bit more 'professional' this time round. I need to remember how many comedy tokens I'm spending on this ludicrous venture.

What qualities do you expect from a Fringe venue?
I think a good Fringe venue should have a decent performance space, low ceilings ideally. Nice and dark everywhere but the stage, and good acoustics. Also the staff are really important to making it feel like a venue and not just 'a place that does comedy'.

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?
My one rule for the Fringe this year is to avoid all reviews of my show. I'm just not sure how helpful they will be. If the review is good it might make me cocky. If the review is bad it will realistically be too late to change the show drastically anyway. So I think I'll just leave it altogether.

Do you undertake any superstitious rituals before going on stage?
Not really. Although I always worry that I'm going to be late so I get to the venue stupidly early. Like two hours early. Then I just wait around wondering what I could have been doing at home in that time.

If you were about to perform at the Fringe for your tenth year, where would you expect your career to be at that point?
Well, firstly, I would expect that the Fringe would have changed its name to 'The Mark Smith Festival'. It runs for 51 weeks and is in all cities, not just Edinburgh. I perform nine similar shows every day. Ticket sales are very poor. Not really, I reckon if I'm still enjoying it and getting better at it in my tenth year, then I'll just keep on going and see where it takes me.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 3–25 Aug, 9.35pm, £8.50–£10 (£7–£9). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.

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Gags and anecdotes from the 2009 'So You Think You're Funny' finalist and one half of sketch duo Dregs.