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Harry Stachini: Grenade

By | Published on Friday 5 July 2024

If you’re a big fan of comedy, you may well have become aware in recent times of the work of Harry Stachini, who made his debut back at the Fringe in 2019, and who has been building a very successful stand-up career over the last decade.

He’s a popular act in top clubs and venues, as well as reaching huge audiences via his online videos and podcasts. 

I was keen to find out more about his latest show ‘Grenade’, as well as, well, lots of other things: how he got into comedy, how his career has progressed, and his feelings about performing in and being at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

CM: Can we begin by talking about the content of ‘Grenade’? What is the show about and how did it come by that, um, explosive name?
HS: In a nutshell, my show ‘Grenade’ is about family, relationships and honesty. It is jam-packed with stand-up routines that don’t pull any punches but highlight how honesty looked in my family, my parent’s marriage and my past relationships.

I explore how once I pulled the pin on my honesty grenade and destroyed an eight-year relationship, a mortgage and a blue whippet all through the fallout of that decision.

I reflected on what was a massive event in my life by writing and, slowly over time, the show unearthed itself to me more and more as I came to realise that we’re all carrying honesty grenades and what we do with them has significant effects on who we are and how we live our lives.

It only felt natural to call the show ‘Grenade’ because of how explosive honesty can be when you pull the pin on it.  

CM: What made you decide to give the show this focus? 
HS: The type of stand-up I enjoy the most is when it’s personal and honest, because then it becomes timeless. I wanted to create a show that I would pay to see myself and, in many ways, I’ve achieved that with ‘Grenade’.

The show is both personal and honest about an important period of my life. The strong theme of honesty that the show centres around didn’t need to be crowbarred into the structure because, at the time of writing the show, I was only giving an honest representation of what was going on in my life.

The material came to me naturally and I just had to follow my instinct of what felt right at the time. 

CM: How easy is it to share personal experiences on stage? 
HS: As I’ve mentioned before, the type of stand-up I enjoy the most is when it’s personal and honest, because it’s difficult to fake that on stage.

Audiences have enough about them to sniff out something that doesn’t seem authentic. I don’t have any issue with sharing personal stuff on stage because you get comfortable with being uncomfortable when doing stand-up.

Plus the majority of my material comes from my experiences with my family, who are big talkers, big characters and have a good sense of humour. There isn’t any part of my show material that my family would say “You can’t share that or that’s not true”. Like me, they laugh at the dysfunctionality of our family unit.

When stand-up comedy is at its best it can be a great mirror to pain, flaws and major fuck ups. I feel comfortable in that space of being open about my past experiences because it brings me a lot of laughter when I realise how much of an idiot I can be at times.

I aim to create shows that reflect who I am and how I see the world around me because honesty is universally relatable – unless you’re a sociopath/reviewer – to any audience. I’m joking, reviewers aren’t sociopaths… they’re psychopaths. 

CM: How would you describe your style of comedy/performance? 
HS: I’m not someone who comes out of the traps flying. I’m built for comfort, not speed. I have a very easy-going conversational style that is relatable and pulls you into a story.

I get told by a lot by people that I have a warm and engaging stage presence that feels like you’re talking to a mate down the pub. It’s good to know that I make an audience feel comfortable because when I’m performing I feel very comfortable on stage.

My style allows me to create a connection with the audience that feels friendly and personal which means, at the very least, even if you don’t think I’m hilarious you won’t think I’m a complete dickhead either. 

CM: What made you decide to bring this show to Edinburgh? 
HS: ‘Grenade’ is a show that I’m very proud of and is the closest I’ve come to writing and performing the type of comedy I’d pay to see myself.

The Fringe is a great opportunity to showcase yourself as a comedian and this year I feel I can do that to the best of my abilities.

The opportunities that can be gained from a successful Fringe are also very appealing and it’s a personal goal of mine to perform at other international festivals in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. 

CM: You did your debut at the Fringe back in 2019. Do you have good memories of that run? What advice would you have for someone making their debut this year?

HS: My debut ‘Tigers Don’t Cry’ was a great lesson for me in getting comfortable on stage, and performing an hour a day in front of a whole mix of crowds will do that for you.

My memories of that year are positive but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take my knocks along the way. I think it just depends on how you look at it. I had some tough shows but I also had some amazing sell-out shows.

On reflection, I probably wasn’t ready for my debut, but at the time you go with what you’ve got and I pushed myself to create a show. I don’t regret that because it did improve me as a comedian.

However, with hindsight, it would have been good to have more of a support network around me, and that would be my advice to someone making their debut. Finding your tribe is important because they’ll help you in ways you can’t fully anticipate.

Millions of people attend the Fringe but it can feel like a lonely place and it’s your tribe that gives you that connection and the fuel you need for the month of performing. Especially on the days when you’re knackered, they’ll keep you in touch with what’s important, and laugh with you at the end of the good days and laugh even harder with you at the end of the tough days.

CM: Do you have any interesting edfringe anecdotes you’d be willing to share with us?  
HS: Afraid not. What happens in the Whatsapp group stays in the WhatsApp group. 

CM: What do you like best about being in Edinburgh for the Festival? 
HS: For me, it’s the times between shows when you’re sitting around with a group of friends talking about the day and the different shows you’ve had or seen. When the weather is great it’s like being in a beer garden for a month.

For an entire month, you’re amongst the chaos of creativity and get a front-row seat to the good, the bad and everything in between, because the Fringe offers things you didn’t even know existed or liked.

CM: What will you get up to when you are not performing? 
HS: It’s gonna be a pretty full-on month because I’m doing two other shows as well as ‘Grenade’ whilst I’m up there, but in the pockets of time between shows or, whenever I can, I’ll try and check out some weird and wonderful shows myself.

I always enjoy seeing some theatre because it’s not something I often get to see and I’ll be sure to make a few appearances at The Brass Monkey because it’s one of my favourite spots for a pint.

And if it’s sunny, an early evening down at the meadows is very nice to sit and chill out. I’ll always try to make sure I’ve got some time to go off somewhere on my own because, otherwise, I’ll go crackers being around some many people, every day of the month.

I’ll be turning 30 on 8 Aug, so I will make sure I have a few drinks with some mates and then, who knows, later that night climb Arthur’s Seat with a kebab to celebrate 30 years of going around the sun. 

CM: What shows are you planning to see? 
HS: I’ve not had a proper look at what else is on outside of the comics that I know are taking shows up, but I’ll be sure to keep my eyes and ears out for recommendations. Jason Byrne is taking a show up there and he’s a comic that is great to see live, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with him once. 

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your performing background – what drew you to stand-up and how did your career begin? 

HS: I never thought about being a stand-up when growing up but I was fascinated by it. I would watch ‘Live At The Apollo’, ‘Mock The Week’ and stand-up DVDs from acts like Peter Kay, Jason Manford and Alan Carr and loved them.

It was my dad who introduced me to Richard Pryor, who caught my attention because he was on a different level from everyone else I’d seen before; he was hilariously honest. Though he was way before my time, I still was able to connect with what he was talking about. 

Since then I’ve loved discovering other comics like Bill Burr and Rory Scovel and learning from other people’s styles whilst I worked out what type of comedian I would like to be myself.

I first started doing stand-up whilst at uni in Liverpool back in 2013. I dipped my toe into the comedy world by doing a six-week comedy course at Hot Water Comedy. It was hosted by Paul Smith, now an international arena comic.

However, it wasn’t until about six months later in early February 2014 that I gave stand-up a good go and started gigging as often as I could. Now ten years on I must be doing something right because it pays the bills and I’ve managed to buy a house from telling jokes.

CM: What have been the highlights of your performing life thus far? 
HS: Without a doubt it was when I performed two sellout shows in Manchester in August 2023. The overall achievement of selling hundreds of tickets to people who want to see something you’ve created was a massive achievement.

It meant so much to me, my family and the amazing team of people I work with and who have supported me along the way over the years. It felt like a team win and gave us all a good taste of things to come.

Although stand-up has allowed me to perform shows in Dubai, Europe and on Virgin Cruises around the Mediterranean, those two sell-out nights in Manchester will live long in the memory. The shows were electric and celebrating afterwards with friends and family was very special. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
HS: My ambition is to get to the top of my game as a comedian, writer and performer. I plan to continue producing hilarious, original and personal hours of stand-up that I can tour across the UK and beyond. I aim to travel, explore and learn as much as possible, so that I can inform myself as a person and my writing.

I’m keen to experience the festivals in Australia and New Zealand within the next twelve months, as that is a part of the world I’ve never been to before and right now I want to see and do as much as possible.

Alongside stand-up, I’m lucky to work with an amazing team of talented people at Get Giddier Productions. We produce some great content and have the best time doing it. I look forward to enjoying what adventures lie ahead. Our latest project, the ‘All Made Up Podcast’, is something that excites us.

Long term we aim to take it in front of a live audience and tour it wherever we can, as it’s a podcast that has huge potential due to accessibility and uniqueness. 

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
HS: Aside from plenty of gigs in the UK and overseas, I’m currently going through the process of moving house, so will be spending more days painting and decorating than writing.

But that isn’t a bad thing because, as much as I’d hate to admit it, I already have the idea of my next show bubbling away in my mind. But I’ll try to use decorating the house as an opportunity to take some time to reflect before jumping straight back on the horse.

I’m also planning on making a trip to Nepal in the next twelve months to see the Himalayas, but that depends on how many tickets I sell this August. Either way, I’ve got a mountain of painting and decorating to do. 

Harry Stachini performs ‘Grenade’ at Underbelly Bristo Square from 31 Jul-26 Aug. Find the edfringe listing here.

He’ll also be appearing in ‘Killer Comedy Club’ from 2-26 Aug and ‘All Made Up Podcast Live’ from 2-12 Aug, both at Hoots @ The Apex.

LINKS: www.harrystachini.com | x.com/hstachini