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Harriet Dyer: Skin

By | Published on Friday 28 June 2024

As edfringe creeps ever closer, it’s great to hear about all our fave Fringe veterans who are headed back up to the Scottish capital again this year to delight us with their new and brilliant work. One such veteran is comedian Harriet Dyer, whose career we’ve been following with interest. 

The last time I spoke to her, back in 2019, we had yet to go through the pandemic and the Fringe’s ‘thin’ years. So I thought it would be lovely to catch up now that we are well past all that, and find out more about the show she will be performing in Edinburgh this summer. 

So, I arranged a quick chat with Harriet ahead of next month’s run.  

CM: Shall we start by talking about this year’s show? What can we expect from it in terms of content and themes? Do you tell a specific story? 
HD: I love a story me! Yes, it’s one big story with twists and turns about identity, mental health, addiction, friendship and squirrels!

CM: How would you describe your live work, in terms of style or genre? What kind of comedy should audiences expect? 
HD: Unpredictable whimsy storytelling with heart.

CM: How do you decide what to focus on in your shows?
HD: Usually it’s just a case of where my head is at… So years ago I was like, “Ooh I like dinosaurs so let’s do a show about that”, whereas now it’s more of a case of, “What has happened in my life that I’m now ready to make funny from?” 

CM: How do you go about putting each show together?
HD: I usually sit down and type out a whole massive incoherent story, then put that in a notebook as notes, and then go through it standing up, pacing, thinking and adding the funny bits and bits that make sense to the story. Until it’s something that I think is of a sufficient standard to present to a lovely audience. 

CM: Have you always had a director for your shows? Why do you have one now?
HD: This year is the first time I’ve ever had a director.

I’ve always thought, “You’ll never see me with a director”, but a) I talk a load of rubbish and b) I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the structure of a show, mainly due to me thinking people are in my head knowing what I’m on about when no one has a clue.

So this year I’m finally accepting that and just allowing someone to help me put my madness in a more orderly fashion. 

CM: You’ve got a number of TV and radio credits to your name – how does that work compare to doing your live shows? What do you most enjoy?  
HD: I’ve only done a couple of TV bits but, oh golly, they’ve been the most fun ever and everyone treats you so lovely, which I could get used to.

But live work is my bread and butter and I don’t think you could have one without the other, because usually the bits on the telly are only at the standard they are because of all the circuit stuff you’ve done to get them there. 

CM: Last time we spoke to you, in 2019, we were poised on the brink of the pandemic and everything that followed. How have the intervening years been?
HD: Gosh, that feels like a lifetime ago. I’m OK I think, are you? I’m really lucky in that I’m always busy and just doing what I love doing, so I guess I just carry on plodding and existing with that… Turning over various creative endeavours?

I hope all this is making sense, as I’ve just been to the dentist and am a little bit off my tits from the dental work I’ve just had done. 

CM: You’ve been back to Edinburgh since then, of course: what keeps you coming back? 
HD: After 2022 I was all, “NEVER AGAAAAIN!!!” But then I wrote a new show so I did a week last year and felt majorly out of the loop with all my pals that were there for the whole shebang. So I’m back doing the full month again this year.

Edinburgh’s great to have as a thing to work towards, getting a new show ready for every year, and – being not based in London – I think it’s good being up there to be seen by people that perhaps wouldn’t usually be within my circumference. 

CM: What do you look forward to most about being in Scotland for the Festival? 
HD: Being away from my messy family! I love that it’s a creative hub where I get to do my show every day and hang out and gig lots with other creative people. 

CM: What non-Fringe activities would you recommend to those spending a month in the city? 
HD: There’s so many wonderful places to eat, so go eat all the food!

CM: Do you have a list of shows you want to see? Any show tips for us? 
HD: Tom Lawrinson will be splendid, as will Amy Mason. I always love Tarot’s shows, Katie Norris’s ‘Farm Fatale’ wins amazing title, and I REALLY want to see ‘Frankie Monroe: LIVE!!!’

CM: Do you have any amusing Fringe anecdotes that it would be appropriate to tell us?
HD: I was once in a bidding war on eBay for what I thought was a rotating stage for my 2019 show ‘The Dinosaur Show’, but when it got delivered to my venue it was a lazy susan. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
HD: It’d be a dream come true to get to do ‘Live At The Apollo’. 

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
HD: Hopefully this show does well, so I will get to take it on a little tour, and other bits I’m writing / have in the pipeline will become fruitful and girthy.  

Harriet Dyer performs ‘Skin’ at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose from 31 Jul – 26 Aug. See the edfringe listing here.

LINKS: www.harrietdyer.com | x.com/HarrietDyerCom 

Photo: Andy Hollingworth