Comedians in Edinburgh
Getting Chai Lattes (series three)
Originally not aired on 12/08/2022
Thousands of people on the streets, flyerers in your face wherever you walk, posters adorned on every edifice – the Edinburgh Fringe is back baby!
This is the first official Fringe since the coranivirus-19 pandemic and the wait has been long. For those of you who don’t remember the pandemic, it was a virus that brought civilisation to a halt in early 2020, most devastatingly affecting comedians.
The comedy clubs were shut, the Edinburgh Fringe was cancelled, and for a whole two years people stopped laughing.
There’s debate over how the virus started – did it come from a bat? Was it leaked deliberately from a lab? Or was it spread by the woke anti-comedy twitter-brigade in an attempt to cancel all comedians in one fell swoop?
I couldn’t possibly say. But if the aim was to cancel comedians, then it didn’t work. We adapted. We learned how to use TikTok – reducing our material into increments of 60 seconds or less that people smile faintly at while taking a dump.
Fast forward to now and the world’s biggest arts festival is upon us. The rooms are dirtier, the ventilation is even worse and the TikToks being put out are producing fainter smiles than ever. We did it!
Yet we’re a week into the Fringe and it feels like something is missing. Walk up and down the Royal Mile and you hear the same words repeated.
“The Fringe doesn’t feel like it’s kicked off yet.”
“Does anyone know what time PieMaker closes?”
Then it hit me. The reason it feels different this year is because of me. It’s because of a project I started four years ago that I’d all but given up on. That project was “Comedians In Edinburgh Getting Chai Lattes” – the world’s first ever unrecorded podcast.
“What is an unrecorded podcast?” I don’t hear you ask. It’s a podcast with difference. Unlike a lot of modern podcasts with their fancy microphones and fancy cameras that perfectly capture the conversation between the host and the guest, I turn up with nothing. I chat with the guests and then write up the interview afterwards, relying on nothing more than my memory of the occasion to help me reconstruct the chat.
One problem with this refreshing approach is that the human memory is notoriously unreliable. In attempt to maintain psychological stability, we often remember past events as rosier than they were, creating a narrative in our minds were we’re the hero, looked on more favourably and adoringly than was the case in reality.
Having done this for a while now, I don’t think this will be an issue, and as my first guest of this year’s series Charlie Bowers sat down to greet me, he opened with a lovely compliment:
“Hey Eric, can I just say you’re looking even more toned than the last time I saw you – and what I like about your body is it’s not that bulky superficial weightlifter-build that stinks of someone overcompensating for their small phallus, it’s that subtle lean muscle mass where you can tell you do yoga and calisthenics regularly.”
“Why thank you, Charlie,” I replied. “That’s very kind of you to say.”
Charlie’s physical health, however, isn’t in quite as good place as my own. Charlie suffers from a condition known as epilepsy, which ironically makes him the perfect “fit” for this show.
As a big fan of equality, I was keen to have Charlie on the show to discuss his poorly nervous system and how it’s affected him.
“What’s it like to have a condition that gives you such a disadvantage in your day-to-day life, but such an advantage when it comes to PR?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Charlie responded. “I don’t use my condition as PR – I don’t even talk about it on stage.”
I was getting a bit of a hostile vibe from Charlie. I paused, took a sip of my Chai and reminded myself that not everyone with epilepsy is such a whiny prick.
“Don’t you feel like you’re missing a trick,” I said. “If you really pushed the fact that you have epilepsy then maybe producers and agents would be interested in you. Everyone needs an angle. You need to seize the opportunities with these seizures.”
“Well, if people are only interested in me because of my disability,” Charlie replied, “then that would mean nothing to me. I’m not a sob story – I want to be judged on my merit as a comedian.”
Even if it was a bit misguided, I admired Charlie’s determination to not be defined by his epilepsy. But you know what rhymes with epilepsy? Pepsi – a beverage Charlie can’t enjoy as the caffeine content in it could trigger a seizure. And on thinking of that clever little rhyme, I remembered I forgot to make sure Charlie’s Chai Latte was a decaf.
I decided to terminate the inverview and leave before things turned shaky.
See you next time! X
Charlie is performing a show with non-epileptic comic Greg Winfield. You can catch their show “Split The Winnings” for free every day at Southsider at 4:30pm.
Tom Ward &
Originally not aired on 16/08/2022
We’re at the halfway point of the Edinburgh Fringe, and it’s always around this time I start to reflect on what comedy really means to me. Is it about money? Reviews? Awards?
No. If you do comedy for those reasons then you will inevitably be disappointed. Not because those things are unattainable. Far from it – you could have glowing reviews and prestigious awards coming out of your ass, with cash reserves big enough to lubricate that incredibly stuffed ass with Lurpak. Yet that wouldn’t guarantee you happiness. In fact, the more you get these external measures of success, the more you crave. The hedonic treadmill never stops, contentment is never achieved.
So comedy must be done for another reason. Art? Maybe. But I think it goes deeper than that. Comedy should be done for love. Having performed to literally half-dozens of people this Fringe, I’ve realised there are few things more intimate than the connection between a comedian and their audience.
One thing more intimate, of course, is full penetrative sex – something my next two guests are having regularly.
The first ever couple to appear on “Comedians In Edinburgh Getting Chai Latte,” Tom Ward and Freya Mallard make for an interesting case-study on the relationship between external success and true love.
It’s fair to say that Tom – star of Live At The Apollo – and Freya – frequently seen on line-ups for FunnyMonsters-bring-a-friend-and-buy-a-pint-for-a-chance-to-perform’s Wednesday night 11:20pm shows – are at different stages in their careers.
“Tom, you’ve been on TV, you can get these,” Freya jokes, as we order our Chai’s from Edinburgh’s Black Medicine Café.
Things might seem off-balance in terms of metrics of fame and success, but then you bring looks into it. Some might stay that Tom is punching well above his weight – a boxing analogy that comes from when a boxer from one weight category fights another boxer who is much more attractive than them.
“Do you think you complement each other’s deficiencies?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Freya replied.
“Yeah, what do you mean?” Tom repeated, like an absolute simp.
“Well to put it bluntly, fella, she’s out of your league, and you couldn’t catch a break in this business if it fell into your lap, sister.”
There was a silence. We all sipped on our chais.
“Listen, Eric,” TV’s Tom Ward said to me. “Our relationship isn’t built on superficial things like fame, or looks, or even our respective Edinburgh Fringe reviews. There’s only one star I care about and that’s Freya.”
“One star is actually a pretty terrible review,” I responded.
But as I thought about it, I could see what Tom was getting at. In the same way comedy should be based on love, love should be based on love too.
Then something else dawned on me – Tom is also pretty attractive. Potentially very attractive. Cool haircut, eyes to get lost in, and a great dress-sense.
Conversely, when you forget about how incredibly far she is from success, and actually watch Freya perform, her talent shines through. Excellent writing, tackling the ordinary and packaging it alongside the surreal, delivering it with confidence and poise, it’s only a matter of time before she gets her shot at the big time.
Then this couple will have it all, the world will be theirs. Looks, fame, success.
When they left, I sat there, alone, and pondered:
What do you do if you have none of those things?
Well, I guess I love what I do.
See you next time!
Hannah Weetman &
Originally not aired on 18/08/2022
Every podcast (even an unrecorded podcast like mine) at some point must make a decision: when do you cut off your friends, the people that supported you from the start.
Now #1 on Spotify’s unrecorded podcast chart, “Comedians In Edinburgh Getting Chai Lattes” is undoubtedly the hit of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. As a result, people are clamouring to come on and sit down for a Chai Latte with me.
My issue is there’s only a certain number of these I can put out. The post-production process of this podcast is a lengthy one – it involves me uploading the recording onto an SD card, sending it via FedEX to my editor Brett who lives in Denver, Colorado (he doesn’t trust digital file transfers), waiting for him to clean up the audio before he posts it back, and then finally deleting the recording and deciding to write the interview up instead.
So with that in mind, do I get more ambitious with my bookings, tactically choosing guests with huge social media followings in order to grow my own fanbase? Or do I waste my time on relatively unsuccessful friends, just because they asked to come on and I’m too socially awkward to say no?
I’ll let you figure out which one I’ve gone for, when I tell you today I interviewed two guests who’s lowly status means they can’t advance my career whatsoever.
Tal Davies and Hannah Weetman are two Birmingham-based “comics” that don’t even have a show at this year’s Fringe. Why they’re here is anyone’s guess.
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“Anyone’s guess,” Tal replied. Hannah looked at her and they both laughed.
I paused, hoping that if there was a big enough silence then this coerced interview might be ended early.
“So, aren’t you gonna ask us about our careers?” Hannah asked.
“Oh right, yeah… how are your careers going?”
“Really well actually,” Tal answered. “We’re thinking of maybe doing our own shows next ye—”
“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..” I interrupted, saying each individual ‘Z’ out loud, using the American pronunciation of “zee” in order to caricature my boredom.
“Is everything okay?” Hannah asked.
“Not really,’” I said. “Listen guys, I know you’re my friends and all that, but it’s just… well considering my ambitions, it’s frustrating that I’m still so accessible to you. I shouldn’t be talking to people with as few credits and accolades as you guys.”
I’m not the best at reading people, but Tal and Hannah both looked a bit sad, a human reaction that corresponds to negative emotions.
I was perplexed. Had I said something? Then it dawned on me. By viewing Tal and Hannah in terms of their status rather than as friends whose company I enjoy, I’d made a mistake. The spirit of the Fringe isn’t about networking with people who can advance your career, it’s about coming together for the biggest arts festival in the world, celebrating creativity in all its forms. Comedy should be a community, not a hierarchy.
“I’m really sorry guys,” I said. “I want you to know that I really appreciate you both and that—”
My phone buzzed. I looked down and it was a text from a TV comedian asking if I fancied a pint.
I made up my excuses and left.
See you next time! X
Originally not aired on 28/08/2022
At the time of not recording this podcast, I am preparing to do my last show of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. It will be the 24th time I’ve done my one-hour show, which after using a complicated mathematical formula to crunch the numbers, I have worked out will mean I have done it for 24 hours – a unit of time better known as a day.
A day of comedy. A whole day of spouting the same nonsense over and over again. Was it worth it?
If by “worth it” you mean has it brought me lots of money, interest from TV producers and a deal to take the show on a nationwide tour, then no.
But if by “worth it” you mean has it allowed me to grow as a comedian in a way that doesn’t improve my life in any tangible way whatsoever, then yes. I have absolutely smashed it.
It’s not too late to do some industry networking, however, and that’s why today I met with Channel 4’s Izzy Askwith.
Not only does she work in television, Izzy is also an award-winning comedian, having won the prestigious Funny Women Stage Award in 2020.
I was interested by the potential conflict of working in TV and being a comedian herself. It’s a bit like being a player-manager at a football club, like Wayne Rooney did at Derby for half a season.
“Do you see yourself as the Wayne Rooney of comedy?” I asked her.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, he had a hair transplant, and you’re a big-wig in TV,” I replied, sure that my well-executed pun would scream ‘get this guy on television’ to her.
“I don’t actually have that much power at Channel 4,” she said. “I don’t even work in the comedy department.”
I spat out my drink.
She began repeating what she said.
“No,” I interrupted, “I meant ‘what’ as like an exclamation, not ‘what’ as in I didn’t hear you.”
“What do you do at Channel 4 then?” I asked.
“Make trailers mainly. You know, like for Bake Off and stuff.”
I sighed and started mopping up the drink I spat out with a bit of tissue. I was beginning to feel sad about the Fringe as a whole. All that work and the only industry person I’d met was someone who couldn’t help my career.
Or could she?
“Are you casting anything at the moment?” I asked. “I could act.”
“Casting? For a trailer?”
“Well, no…” she replied. “Trailers are normally made up of clips from the show. We don’t generally – or ever – cast actors to be in a trailer.”
She made a fair point.
So that was that. 24 shows, a day of comedy, and nothing to show for it. ‘Carpe diem’, more like ‘carpe what was the point in doing the Fringe’.
Izzy could tell by my demeanour that I was down about things, and also because I’d told her explicitly.
“It’ll be alright, Eric,” she said. “There’s only one more show to go.”
I knew what she was saying. She was saying that, despite not becoming a big star off the back of it, doing a show every day in Edinburgh is something to be proud of. We don’t do it for the money or the fame, we do it for the art.
Comedy isn’t about connections, it’s about connection, and I feel a lot of people connected with my show over this month.
I told Izzy that she was right, and that I was ready to do it all again next year.
“Good for you, Eric,” she said. “I won’t be, I’m earning loads of money in television.”
Fair play to her.
See you next time!
Originally not aired on 30/08/2022
Later today I will be packing my suitcase, zipping it up, realising I’ve forgotten to pack something, unzipping it, packing the forgotten item, and then heading back to Birmingham.
My bags will be heavy, but the heaviest bags will be the ones under my eyes. This last month at the Fringe has been a rollercoster ride – in that it’s been largely pointless and arguably quite a childish way of spending my time.
I’m so tired. It’s only been a month, but I feel like I’ve aged around three months – it’s absolutely staggering what this place does to you.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sad it was over, and I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly well-endowed. So I’m going to be honest with you: I’m a sad, well-hung boy.
Which brings me to my final guest of this year’s “Comedians In Edinburgh Getting Chai Lattes”, Finlay Christie.
I’m not sure if he’s well-hung, but Finlay is certainly well young. Only 23 years old, Finlay has already achieved more than most of his peers ever will. He’s been on TV, has over 200k subscribers on YouTube, over 170k followers on TikTok, and most importantly, he knows how to talk to girls.
“How do you do it?” I asked him, as I sipped on my final chai of the Fringe.
“It’s really just a case of being confident, good looking and incredibly famous,” he replied.
Finlay certainly isn’t shy about his success, telling me he’d just been for a meeting with a Sky executive before coming to do the podcast.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous and also still very well-endowed.
“I’ve struggled to get any TV people to come and see my show,” I admitted. “It’s been a bit disheartening.”
“My agent told me he’s never had so much interest from producers,” Finlay replied, sympathetically.
I don’t begrudge Finlay his success – he’s earned it. Finlay’s comedy is mainly about him being part of Gen Z (people born after 1997) and with such sharp comedic insights as “don’t I look young?” and “wow, this crowd is pretty old” Finlay isn’t just a comedian who makes you laugh, he’s one who makes you think.
I’m just a 26 year-old washed up millennial. Ancient, bitter, and nothing left to offer. Maybe it’s time I hung up my boots and left it to the youngsters. In my day TikTok was a song by Kesha, now it’s the only way you can make it in this world. Long-form, unrecorded podcasts are out, and short, attention-grabbing clips are in.
I looked at Finlay’s soft, successful face and it reminded me of everything I’ve lost. I was 23 when we went into the pandemic, the same age Finlay is now. I had that time snatched away from me. I had no idea what I had, all that potential was thrown away.
Life is so fragile, and if I had anything to offer Finlay it was the advice to seize every single moment.
“You may not believe this, Finlay,” I said. “But one day you’ll end up like me. I know I’m old and you’re probably not gonna listen, but I just hope you enjoy this time because there’s a generation behind you with even softer skin and even shorter social media clips, and they’re ready to take your place too. All you can do is squeeze every last drop out of the time you have left.”
There was a pause. I looked up from my chai and Finlay was on his phone.
“Sorry mate, I’m just making a TikTok”
See you next year! X