Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 interview: Russian comic Igor Meerson
‘If you say “My wife left me because I drank all her perfume” in Russia, no one will know that you are joking'
This article is from 2014.
As one of the first Russians performing stand-up, Igor Meerson elaborates on the difficulties of introducing the new art form at home. ‘If a man stands on stage and says “hello, my name is Peter. My wife left me because I’m an alcoholic and yesterday I drank all her perfume”, in Russia, no one will know that you are joking. They see a person with a problem and are ready to help, to advise. To drink with you.’
The St Petersburg native’s self-deprecating show explores ‘cultural differences and features stories of my crazy personal experiences. The second is usually a result of the first’. Unlike Western audiences, who ‘laugh, not only at well-written jokes but interesting observations and ideas’, Russian crowds are tougher he suggests, because jokes are paramount.
‘Everybody in Russia considers themselves to have interesting observations,’ he explains. ‘They are unforgiving, which helps to make your brain work harder.’ At his first UK spots last year, he was both surprised and pleased: ‘British audiences are so open and will sometimes react a couple of times when you’re still on your way to the punchline.’
Igor Meerson: Hou I Lernt Inglish, Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 2–25 Aug (not 11), 8.30pm, £8–£10.50 (£7–£9.50). Previews 30 Jul–1 Aug, £6.