Fringe comedy debut: Ben Van Der Velde

  • The List
  • 25 July 2013

This article is from 2013

Fringe comedy debut: Ben Van Der Velde

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

What do you think might work out as the best piece of advice you receive ahead of your Fringe debut?
You will have one of every type of show at the Fringe: one incredible show, one awful, one weird, one where you forget everything and still muddle through and one to a room entirely comprised of baffled, Japanese tourists. Embrace that and it should be a lot easier to cope with.

What do you expect will be the least useful piece of advice?
Drink. Heavily.

Imagine this is September: looking back at August, what would constitute a successful Fringe?
If my show could inspire just a couple of audience members per performance to take the free writing paper I'll be handing out and write a letter to a long-lost friend that would mean the world to me. That and having good enough audiences to nail my storytelling skills.

In krugerrands, how much do you expect to lose during the Fringe?
No matter how much you sugar-coat that question with the need for Wikipedia research it doesn't make the answer any less bleak. I'm going for five. There, that doesn't sound so bad does it? I could deal with losing five of anything, right? (Quickly see fingers, sits on hands and sobs quietly to himself).

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?
Whilst I'd love to partake of this noble druidic sacrament, I'm afraid the high priestess who currently carries the name of girlfriend would not approve. Even if it's done on the old stone shagging altar at the top of Arthur's Seat.

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’ll be aiming for careful and temperate imbibulation throughout the Fringe as I aim to tackle the challenge of 25 shows in a month like a true professional. Expect to find me lapping from a trough of single malt like some sort of alcoholic cattle by the end of week two. All my drinking will be post-show, as pre-show drinking tends to lead to me replacing funny with confused followed swiftly by asleep.

What qualities do you expect from a Fringe venue?
An audience pointing the right way and a functioning microphone. Everything else is window-dressing.

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 rule is that I'm not going to actively seek them out, but if a scrap of one catches my eye then I can feel alright about giving in to temptation. As a comic I'm actually genuinely intrigued as to what reviewers say. A good star rating is always welcome (waggles eyebrows conspiratorially at you, The List), but with this being my debut hour at the Fringe, I really want to know where I stand and what reviewers like and dislike about me. As a human any bad reviews will crush me physically and emotionally so that I simply can't go on and will have to launch myself at the nearest street performer's chainsaws. You have been warned.

Next year, will you consider returning as a double act?
Only because it will half the cost.

Do you undertake any superstitious rituals before going on stage?
Since I can't go up to the shagging altar, it's a no this year …

If you were about to perform at the Fringe for your tenth year, where would you expect your career to be at that point?
Integrity answer: I'd like to have a number of inventive, creatively satisfying, boundary-pushing, inquisitive and funny shows in my back pocket and the niche following to match. Egotistical answer: I expect to play the castle every night, with the Tattoo as my support act.

Underbelly, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, 3–26 Aug (not 12), 4.10pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.

Ben Van der Velde - Komedia 2013

Ben Van der Velde's Chain Letter

  • 2 stars

To combat the instantaneous and forgettable world of texting and social media, Ven Der Velde turned to the forgotten art form of the chain letter.

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