In the last of our Edinburgh Fringe exclusives for 2016 Col Howarth speaks to the very lovely Aidan Goatley about not one, but two of this year’s most highly anticipated shows!
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‘If you are starting out then put a dog in the show and people will love you for it. My dog was in the clips for 10 Films With My Dad. People would come up to me at the show and ask where’s the dog? and I’d say well he’s in the clips. They’d say right so is he not here? I’d say no...he’s in the clips. And they’d say ah…well, I suppose we might as well stay.’
Could the dog really become the new ukulele?
At the time of our comedy chat Aidan Goatley was preparing not one but two shows for a mammoth double-Edinburgh run at this year’s Fringe (2016) with The Joys of Retail and Mr Blue Sky. No stranger to hour-long performances, Aidan’s debut 10 Films With My Dad first hit the stage four years ago, and in that time he has performed it over 200 times, culminating in a UK and overseas tour in June earlier this year. Yet despite the accolades and the acclaim that he has amassed over his seven year comedy career even Aidan would admit that it was something of a tricky start.
‘I always wanted to be a stand up since I was a kid but didn’t have the confidence to do it. Then at university I was asked to compere a charity night and I was awful. Typical thing: yes I can do that I’ll be fine. There were two professional comedians on who were brilliant and me who was far from tolerable. During the break it was awful. I had no experience whatsoever.
‘Two guys were in the toilet. I was in the cubicle. One said to the other are you having a good night and the other said yes, but the bloke with the beard is shit. It was so bad I didn’t even attempt do it again for 10 years. My internal organs could not have afforded to be clenched so tightly for that period of time.
'About 10 years later I was working in a retail job. I was manager of a garden centre doing ridiculous hours driving my wife nuts. Her and a good friend of mine found Jill Edwards’ comedy course in Brighton. Jill has taught pretty much everybody. They said I should do the course and that was it. The confidence I gained from doing that meant I could move on from there. The course really worked for me.’
In fact, for anyone considering a stand-up comedy course, Jill Edwards has taught the likes of Romesh Ranganathan, Jimmy Carr, Shappi Khorsandi, Seann Walsh and a long long list of comedy royalty.
‘One of the most valuable things I was taught by Jill was that if people don't like what you do then it isn’t you they don't like, it is your act. What you do is still an act even if you are talking about yourself. My comedy comes from the comedy I like. I have only ever written one one-liner joke. I find it easier to talk. It has just developed into that style.’
As a one man PR and marketing machine with a tireless work ethic, Aidan is one of those DIY stand-ups that should inspire as his is an example of what can be achieved when you put the work in. Would Aidan consider trying to get on the books of an agent?
‘I don’t have an agent. I don’t know how you get an agent. If there are any agents reading this then I’d more than happily let someone take over the admin and we can make lots of money together.’
But as a DIY act how do you make something like an international tour take shape?
‘Well take Dubai. Dubai was down to pure luck. It was supposed to be the last year that I’d be doing 10 Films With My Dad. I did it in Edinburgh and the guy who runs Dubai Laughing (Ray Addison) saw the show and asked Why don’t you come out and do it. I said Well let me think about that, because you’ve got to play it cool for maybe 10 seconds.
'Then I thought If I’m going to Dubai then I may as well try to book a little tour. It wouldn’t have mattered if nobody had come. I got to stand in the desert which was awesome.
'You’ve got to put the work in to get there unless you are phenomenally lucky. You’ve got to work at it and put on a show. My personal thing is that if you do a show and make it the best show you can possibly make it then it doesn’t matter if two people or 200 turn up. You have to do the show that they have paid to see.
'I’ve done 10 Films in front of three people and they have been some of the best shows I’ve done.’
How has Edinburgh treated you in the six years since you started going up there, and where do you start when planning a new hour?
‘I went up to Edinburgh for the first time with Sam Savage and Jack Bales. We just did 20 minutes each. We were in a venue that was virtually in Belgium. It was there that I was chatting with Jill who suggested I do something with clips. A few hours later I’d come up with the idea for 10 Films With My Dad. For me it’s all in the structure first of all.
‘I work out what the show is going to be about: what its core theme is. That’s before I even start writing the jokes. At the Fringe, on the first Wednesday, you usually get a local audience. Edinburgh audiences can just be there and there’s silence. You did the show the night before and people were laughing, but with an Edinburgh audience there can be nothing and at the end there’s this huge response. They want to hear the story.
'You also have other shows where people sit in silence and you are thinking If you are enjoying yourselves then can you tell your faces.'
So what can audiences expect from the two new hours?
‘Mr Blue Sky is all about happiness. It is effectively about my daughter. There are many different forms and styles of comedy and it suits my style to be happy and tell positive stuff, and be nice. Life’s too short!
‘With The Joys of Retail I was doing a job that was horrible and I started writing about it on Facebook. I wasn’t planning on doing a second show. The responses on Facebook were great and were being shared by a lot of people. I started doing a book of it and someone suggested I do a show. So I did.’
With the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 hurtling along at breakneck speed, Aidan’s double whammy is playing to healthy audiences with Facebook reports of full houses and virtual shouts of 'just a few tickets left for tonight’s show'.
And in true Aidan style when asked for any last words of advice he puts it in the simplest of terms : just be lovely.
You can also catch further details of gigs and other news at: www.aidangoatley.com.