Interview: Daniel Kitson-endorsed comic Tom Shillue to make his Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut
'What I’m trying to do for this show is take many little stories and weave them together and try to make a bigger tale'
This article is from 2014.
Endorsed by Daniel Kitson, Tom Shillue is a little bit afraid of Edinburgh. Murray Robertson reckons if the American sticks to his plan, he’ll be just fine
Last year, comedian and storyteller Tom Shillue embarked on a project to record a dozen spoken word albums over 12 months. While many people assumed it was a short-lived gag, Shillue saw it through to the bitter end. ‘It was exhausting,’ he says. ‘The artistic part of it wasn’t that hard. It was just the busy work of getting it all done and kind of ignoring my family and other obligations.’
The benefit from all his hard graft is a mother lode of material for his Fringe debut. ‘What I’m trying to do for this show is take a little best-of from those stories and weave them together and try to make a bigger tale. But basically all my stories are the same thing: it’s stories about my life, either stories from the past, about growing up in New England, or stories from my present life here in New York, and I try to use them to figure out bigger points.’
Not only is Shillue a regular on the New York comedy club scene, he supports Jim Gaffigan on tour across the world and has a regular spot as part of Jimmy Fallon’s barbershop quartet. Very much in demand in the States, his appearance here is thanks to Daniel Kitson who couldn’t believe he hadn’t played the UK. Shillue sees the Fringe as a chance to try out his material on a European audience. He also views it as a real challenge.
‘Yes, it’s huge and I am a little bit scared,’ he admits. ‘I want people to like me, that’s my main thing. When I’ve been overseas so far, it’s been opening for Jim Gaffigan in these big theatres. So people come out to see him, they take a gamble on me and they’re usually nice. But this is all on me.’
Tom Shillue: Impossible, Assembly Rooms, 0844 693 3008, 1–24 Aug (not 11), 9pm, £10 (£9). Preview 30 Jul, £9 (£8).