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David Ian: (Just A) Perfect Gay

By | Published on Sunday 16 July 2023

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that here at ThreeWeeks we love it when comedians have a good story to tell. In fact, we definitely make a point of seeking them out. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our latest interviewee is someone who describes himself as a storyteller. 

David Ian is bringing his debut comedy show to the Fringe this year, so he is what we would regard as a newcomer. But he’s far from a newcomer to comedy – and performance in general.

I spoke to him to find out more about his first edfringe show – in which he draws on his own experiences of growing up gay in small town Kent in the 90s – and about his career path thus far.

CM: Let’s start with the obvious question: you’re making your Fringe debut this year. Can you tell us what your show’s all about?
DI: My show is called ‘(Just A) Perfect Gay’. So, I’ve always wondered if I’m the perfect gay or the worst gay. I think it started because, when I lost my virginity, I got a death threat, and I was never sure if that was because I was so good at it or so bad at it. And ever since I’ve always been really worried about being a perfect gay. And this show is my investigation of that! 

So if you’ve ever felt like you’re not quite good enough, or you’re slightly on the outside of everyone else, then this show is going to speak to you. Plus there’s quite a lot of Cher mentions in it – what’s not to love about that?

I guess the main theme would be striving for perfection and therefore measuring ourselves. I think it’s also about reclaiming bad things that have happened to you and repurposing them.

CM: What made you want to cover these subjects in a comedy set?
DI: Well, perfectionism is a protection I think a lot of people use, something that we can use to hide from the world. I think that could do with a bit of investigation. Plus I think it’s super common to let certain things that have happened take on a bigger life than they need to – so I think let’s reclaim it and repurpose it. I’m using it to learn from!

CM: It sounds like a lot of it might be quite personal – how does it feel to put your own experiences out there?
DI: Well it’s weird, it’s obviously a very vulnerability-making thing to do, but that’s probably why I want to do it. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly, and I think comedy is all about laughing at individual experiences that show how common those themes really are.

We might all experience them in slightly different specific ways but the overall feeling, theme and emotions are commonplace. And therefore the vulnerability creates a connection with the audience – which I just love.

That said, it’s obviously hideous to talk about my sex life in public, especially when my parents are coming up to see the show!

CM: How would you describe your comedy style or genre?
DI: I think I would describe my style as storytelling, I’m not a one liner person or anything like that, I’m all about the relatable stories. Well, relatable to a point.

Other people describe my comedy as ‘gay’, which is true in the sense that I talk about my own experiences and I am gay… but I don’t think it’s gay comedy. I just think it’s good comedy!

CM: What inspires you when you are creating comedy? What would you say your influences are?
DI: Well, I often start by just looking at my life, and – especially with this show – I sat down and looked at key moments in my life and then, when I actually started to think about how they had played out, I realised there was a story there that was weird and ultimately funny.

I’m heavily influenced by someone like Matteo Lane, who just embraces who he is in his comedy, which I love. A big part for me is that, by telling people about my stories, that they can see we’re all different but ultimately all human. I think that’s important for people to see.

CM: Have you been to the Fringe before? What made you decide to bring a show this year?
DI: I have, but this is my first time as a stand-up. I have always wanted to perform at the Fringe, so this was just inevitable to be honest and, once I realised this show was good, I decided it deserved to go to Edinburgh!

CM: What hopes and expectations do you have of the Festival this year?
DI: I think at this point my greatest hope is to survive! I’d love enough people to come and see my show that I don’t have to sell everything I own to cover the bills… that would be nice.

Ultimately, I just really want to embrace being amongst so many of my wonderful creative friends for an extended period – and hopefully discover some amazing performers I didn’t already know about. What’s more exciting than finding new comedians you’ve never seen before?

CM: Now can we talk a bit about non-Edinburgh stuff? What drew you to comedy and what made you want to be a performer?
DI: Oh, I have been a performer since I was about five years old and my parents took me to my first drama class – something that they did because I was so painfully shy. Which is amusing: it worked to a point but I’m still horribly shy!

I trained as an actor and, to be honest, comedy was always my natural wheelhouse, what I preferred and what I would be cast in. And so I thought I’d try stand-up – I am a huge fan of stand-up – and wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, so I thought I’d take a course and find out!

CM: Can you tell us about your podcast and The Queer Comedy Club?
DI: So, my podcast is called ‘Mediocre Gay’, and I present it with my mate Kate Dale, who’s also a comedian. We talk to a different person in each episode and ask them to tell us about something that they love but everyone else thinks is mediocre.

It sounds really weird, but we get some amazing conversations and people get into all kinds of things. We get some real in depth chats, and I just love how much we can find out about people, especially when we ask them what is mediocre about themselves…

The Queer Comedy Club is the UK’s first LGBTQ+ comedy club, and I started it in London with Kate and one of my other mates Jeremy Topp.

We have comedy six nights a week, platform queer comedians and give queer audiences a space where they can experience stand-up that was written with them in mind. We’re pretty new – we only officially opened in May – but it’s going really well.

Plus we’ve just been green lit to produce a TV show – ‘Live At The Queer Comedy Club’ – for a global LGBTQ+ streaming service called OUTtv, so that is VERY exciting. We’ve filmed the first series of six episodes already and that will be out in 2024.

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life thus far?
DI: I’d say there’s been two highlights so far and they have both been this year. Working on this show has been some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, but getting to take a solo show to the Fringe is absolutely a highlight.

And producing and starring in our TV show – ‘Live At The Queer Comedy Club’ – that is a dream come true, like a real pinch-yourself moment.

CM: What aims, hopes, plans do you have for the future?
DI: Well I’d love to carry on, I have some thoughts for my next show which I’d like to spend some time working on. And I’m hoping that we can get a couple of other ideas green lit for shows as well. I’d love more people to know about my comedy I guess!

CM: What’s coming up for you after the Fringe?
DI: After the Fringe I am basically back down to London to work on The Queer Comedy Club a bit, help promote it and keep it growing. Then in the new year we will have all the promo for the TV show.

Plus we’re recording new episodes of the podcast from September, oh and I still have one more Pride festival to play this year – Milton Keynes Pride is in September, so that’s something to look forward to after the Fringe.

And I’m booking a holiday!

David Ian performed ‘(Just A) Perfect Gay’ at Just The Tonic at The Caves at Edinburgh Festival 2023.

LINKS: linktr.ee/Davidian | twitter.com/davidoverthere 

Photo: Steve Ullathorne