ED2018 Chris Meets ED2018 Comedy ED2018 Interviews ED2018 Preview Edition

Ian Smith: Craft

By | Published on Saturday 16 June 2018

Here we go again interviewing yet another ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award winner! Our reviewers have loved everything that Ian Smith has performed at the Fringe over the years, though it was last year that we got round to handing him one of our awards.

He returns to Edinburgh this August with a new show called ‘Craft’ promising a few more theatrical bits and even a bit of origami. It’s all slightly mysterious, but we’re confident it will be another fine hour of stand-up.

Ahead of all that, I thought it would be good to have a quick catch up about Edinburghs past and present, podcasting and YouTube-ing, and – of course – the new show.

CC: Although we interviewed you a few years back, that time we didn’t do the back story thing. How did you first get into comedy?
IS: I originally performed in a sketch group with my friends in college called Best Before: Yesterday. I loved making people laugh and wanted to be able to carry on doing it when we all went off to different universities.

CC: You’ve done a number of Edinburgh shows now – has the Fringe become a permanent fixture in your calendar each year?
IS: Yeah – I love the Fringe and it’s the main thing I work towards in the year. I really enjoy being able to write a full hour of material and trying things that are a bit different to what you can usually do in shorter sets.

CC: When do you start thinking about each year’s show? Do you come up with a concept first or do you start writing material and see where it goes?
IS: I’m always trying to think of ideas – but it’s really around January, when the venues start getting confirmed and you need to think of your blurbs, that I try have a rough idea of what I’ll do that year. I tend to do a mixture of material and concept – if something feels strong, it tends to shape the show. This year, it’s a bit of both, there’s a concept that the material works around and hopefully complements.

CC: Yes, this year’s show! Tell us about ‘Craft’. What can we expect?
IS: ‘Craft’ is a show shaped by an email I received in December. I can’t say why, but the show has an obligation to include some unexpected elements – for example, origami and the fact that I won’t actually be inside the venue for about five minutes of the proceedings. It’s a stand-up show, but with something else going on that will slowly get revealed.

CC: How does it compare to your past Edinburgh shows?
IS: It’s more ambitious, with some slightly complicated stuff going on. A drone is involved at one point. It’s very much still stand-up, but with more theatrical bits.

CC: We loved ‘Snowflake’ last year. Have you been touring the show since?
IS: Thank you! And yeah, I got to do a mini-tour of the show in the UK. Then I was invited out to New Zealand to perform the show at the comedy festival there – that was an incredible experience. I love it out there, Auckland and Wellington are beautiful cities and I hope I get to visit again soon.

CC: You do lots of online stuff – podcasts and YouTube videos – how does that compare to your live stand-up?
IS: Stand-up is the thing I love the most – but with podcasts and videos, they’re other ways you can be creative. And it’s nice to have a few things going on and different ways to showcase yourself.

CC: Are podcasts and YouTube channels a good way for stand-ups to build an audience? Or is it just as hard to find an audience for a podcast and a YouTube show?
IS: I do get people coming to my shows who have listened to The Magic Sponge – the football podcast I do with Rob Beckett and Jimmy Bullard – but it can be difficult to get a regular audience online. Though I’ve also been lucky to do some YouTube work with FullTimeDevils and The Football Republic, which have about half a million subscribers each, so that’s a big audience!

CC: You write and act as well as perform comedy. You said stand-up is the thing you love most, but could you see yourself having years where acting or writing was the main thing you were doing?
IS: I always want to perform stand-up, but I do really love the acting side too. If I managed to get a part in something that would take up my time, I’d be happy to do that, but I would always want to be back at the Fringe.

CC: Now you’re becoming an Edinburgh veteran, what tips would you have for comedians starting out at the Fringe this year?
IS: It can get so stressful, so try and enjoy it, that’s the main think I think. Also, go to Mother India for food. It’s so good and it’d be crazy to be in Edinburgh for a month and not go there. Peshwari naan!!!

CC: Other than performing the show, what else do you plan to do during your month in Edinburgh?
IS: I like going to the gym and sitting in a steam room, and I’ll continue with my attempts to try and swim without it looking like I’m drowning.

CC: And finally, looking beyond August, what have you got planned next?
IS: To an extent it will depend on how the Fringe goes – I’d love to do a London run of the show and then tour it. I’m working on a few writing projects too and another web series is planned, so I’ll be doing all those. Plus I have an idea for next year’s Edinburgh show that I want to get an early start on.

Ian Smith performed ‘Craft’ at Underbelly Bristo Square at Edinburgh Festival 2018.

LINKS: iansmithcomedian.co.uk