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Brendan Murphy: Buffy Revamped

By | Published on Saturday 12 August 2023

Many of you will be well aware of the work of Brendan Murphy, because this isn’t the first edfringe outing for his acclaimed one-man comedy show ‘Buffy: Revamped’ – or his other award winning and also acclaimed one-man comedy show ‘FRIEND (The One With Gunther)’.

Those two are just the recent ones – he’s been visiting the Festival since 2011, having originally performed at the Fringe as part of NewsRevue.

As someone who spent far too much time in the late nineties watching ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, I was always going to want to talk to him about the Buffy show at some point, I think. So why delay the inevitable? I spoke to Brendan ahead of this year’s Fringe. 

CM: Can you start by telling us what to expect from ‘Buffy Revamped’ – is it a telling of the whole story or just aspects of it?
BM: The pitch is: “All seven seasons of the Sunnydale saga as told by the bleach-blonde cockney vampire, Spike”.

So it’s the whole story from start to finish – but very much from Spike’s point of view. And don’t worry, season one – and all the other bits that Spike wasn’t around to witness – still gets the full Spike treatment.

CM: Why is the story told from Spike’s perspective?
BM: He’s such a brilliant character with an incredible story arc, going from Big Bad – so, the antagonist – to reluctant ally to love interest and eventually becoming an integral part of the Scooby gang.

He’s in more episodes than any other character outside of the main gang and yet is the only one of them with a true outsider’s perspective on things.

Add that to his biting sense of humour and punk rock aesthetic, and who else would you want to spend an hour in a room with?!

CM: What was the original inspiration for this? What made you want to create a show based on ‘Buffy’ in particular?
BM: I’ve been a Buffy fan ever since it first aired in the UK back in 1997, but over lockdown the show took on a dual role, becoming both a comfort rewatch and a creative project.

Having had success with my previous one-man parody show – ‘FRIEND (The One With Gunther)’ – I decided to turn my attention to Sunnydale and I’ve been amazed by the amount of support it’s had from Buffy fans around the world! 

CM: Do you think fans of the show will get more out of it than people who are unfamiliar with the series or does it work for everyone?
BM: You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy it, though being familiar with the original series certainly helps.

That said, we’ve made sure to keep it all as inclusive and accessible as possible for the friends, partners, parents and children that inevitably end up tagging along to indulge the Buffy fan in their life.

And it seems to have worked – several Buffy noobs have messaged me after the show to say they enjoyed it so much they started their first watch of the show as soon as they got home!

CM: How did you go about creating the show? Did you sit down and write a script or did you do things a different way?
BM: I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, Spike has such a strong voice and character it gave me a lot to run with.

Then, every night for a few months, I hunkered down and did the full Buffy rewatch from start to finish – reading related books, and scribbling down notes, ideas and observations which eventually became premises, gags and bits, which in turn became the basis for ‘Buffy Revamped’. 

CM: How would you sell the show in a couple of sentences?
BM: All seven seasons of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ in 70 hilarious minutes. A non-stop rollercoaster ride of a parody, taking you on a 90s/00s nostalgia-fest complete with a kick-ass indie-rock soundtrack! 

CM: The show’s already seen a lot of success and this isn’t its first time at the Festival. What made you decide to come to Edinburgh with it this year?
BM: We’ve had a great time since we were here last year, touring the show as far afield as Adelaide Fringe as well as a whole host of dates across the UK and Ireland.

However, I feel the intimacy of the Fringe makes a perfect fit for telling Spike’s story and Edinburgh audiences are so open to trying new things we really wanted to give it another go.

CM: What do you like about the Fringe? What do you look forward to about being here?
BM: It’s unlike anything else! The beauty of the city itself, the hustle and bustle, there’s a kind of magic here – and I don’t mean that Wizard Boy. It’s the perfect place to see new acts and catch shows that you might not see anywhere else in the world. 

CM: What do you do when not performing? Do you take in other shows?
BM: Aside from my necessary pilgrimages to Black Medicine and the Mosque Kitchen, it’s all about the shows.

It’s important to keep a sense of normality going for sure, so eating well and the occasional jog or gym visit is pretty essential too.

But I’ve already made a huge list of shows to see while I’m up here and I can’t wait to get started. 

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into performing and what made you want to?
BM: I’m from an Irish family, born in Birmingham and moved down to London when I was eighteen. I’ve been performing since I can remember in some way or other, but my first real steps were probably training at drama school and then following that up with some improvisation courses.

My first Fringe was back in 2011 as part of NewsRevue, which was a brilliant introduction to the world of comedy and gave me my first taste of writing my own material too. 

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
BM: Very hard to answer this without sounding like a total douche, but I’ve certainly done a lot that I’ve enjoyed and I’m proud of.

I’ve worked in TV, film, radio, animation, had a four month residency in Las Vegas, won some awards, performed around Europe, Australia, Canada, and in about 20 states across the US.

However, my greatest highlights were born at the Fringe and one of them is actually coming back this year.

That’s ‘BattleActs!’ – the improv show I do with some of my best mates, including TV’s Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Anna Leong Brophy and Emily Lloyd-Saini – which is on at 11.30pm at The Counting House from 21-27 Aug.

It’s absolute mayhem and I love it.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
BM: I’ve got a few new stage shows in progress, so I’m hoping to be back next year with a brand new offering – watch this space… especially if you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
BM: ‘Buffy’ continues its UK tour this autumn including a one-off performance at Alexandra Palace! There may well be some international dates announced before the year is out as well, so I’m looking forward to that.

We’re having a great time on tour and are hoping to continue bringing the show to audiences around the world over 2024. 

It’s a ridiculous job and I really don’t want to stop, but if I do eventually fancy a break I’m sure it would be a great role for another comedy actor to take on. Until then… If the apocalypse comes, beep me.

‘Buffy Revamped’ was performed at Pleasance at EICC at Edinburgh Festival 2023.

LINKS: buffyrevamped.co.uk | linktr.ee/notmurphy | twitter.com/notmurphy 

Photo: Steve Ullathorne