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Robin Morgan: What a Man, What a Man, What a Man, What a Mighty Good Man (Say It Again Now)

By | Published on Friday 7 June 2019

The TW team have seen and loved Robin Morgan’s work in the past and yet we have never done a Q&A with him. When I heard he would be back at the Fringe with a new show this summer – and it was hard to miss, given the title – I thought it was about time we did.

This year’s show – ‘What A Man, What A Man, What A Man, What A Mighty Good Man (Say It Again Now)’ looks at male role models and what it takes to be a good dad. I asked Robin some questions about that, other things in his life, and his hopes for the future.

CM: Okay, let’s start with your show this year. It has a very long title, doesn’t it? What is it all about?
RM: It DOES have a very long title, thank you! I thought it would be funny but it absolutely ruined my word count in the Fringe brochure, and having to type it out has become a chore. Lesson learnt. It’s a show about my Dad, my son, and what makes a good male role model in 2019.

CM: Interesting. Can you give us an idea of what traits you consider to be intrinsic to the perfect male role model?
RM: I think the traits are ones that society would deem to be ‘feminine’ – caring, kind, supportive. And a load of big dick energy. My Dad’s very sassy. I think that’s a good one.

CM: As a frequently failing mother, it seems to me that it’s way easier to be judged a ‘good dad’ than it does to be judged a ‘good mum’. Would you agree with that?
RM: Oh definitely. The bar is INCREDIBLY low to be considered a ‘good dad’. I was once told that I “talk to my son so nicely”, like I deserve a medal for not calling him a dickhead in public. Those double standards are a core theme of the show.

CM: What made you decide that this would be a good topic to create a show around?
RM: I touched upon it a bit in last year’s show, and it seemed to resonate with people. And weirdly I think it’s good for a man to be talking about it. It has led to a few grumpy sexist men walking out of the show when I’ve previewed it. But maybe it’s okay to be pissing off the right people. I’ve never pissed people off before. That’s the sassiness of my Dad coming through.

CM: I feel as though you’ve been doing edfringe for maybe… four or five years…? Is that correct? What makes you keep coming back?
RM: This is my fourth year performing, and my third full hour show. I adore the Fringe. I had a really nice time last year, and started writing this new show as soon as I came back. It’s so inspiring to see everyone perform the work they’ve been working so hard on.

CM: What’s your favourite thing about Edinburgh/the festival?
RM: The sweet vibes. I’ve never said that before. But the feel of the Festival, it’s so exciting. You can see a great show immediately after seeing the most weird batshit hour you’ve ever witnessed. And you’ll talk about the weird one much more than the good one. It’s just brilliant.

CM: What’s your least favourite thing about it?
RM: I would say the financial aspect, for both performer and punter, but I imagine everyone is saying that. Probably the fact it takes place over August when I have my birthday (on the 19th, thanks for asking) and audience members have NEVER BROUGHT A CAKE ALONG. I turn 30 this year. I want 30 cakes full of candles which will evacuate the entire venue due to smoke alarms going off. That’s the dream.

CM: What advice would you have for first time fringe acts and audience members?
RM: Acts – see as many shows as possible. I didn’t know how far ‘stand-up’ could stretch until I went to Edinburgh. Audience members – don’t see as many shows as you think you want to. You’ll be so tired. See one show less and have a sit down and a glass of water.

CM: As well as doing stand up, you writer for TV and radio. How does it feel writing then handing it over to someone else, rather than performing it yourself?
RM: I honestly love it. I don’t have any jealousy when I hear someone like Miles Jupp read out one of my jokes on the ‘News Quiz’ or Rachel Parris on the ‘Mash Report’. They’re both such brilliant shows to be a part of it, and I’m immensely proud to be part of the teams that make them. Teenage-comedy-fanboy me would adore that his jokes would make it on air. Who knows whether that’ll last, but for now – there’s no ego involved, just a genuine pleasure to be involved.

CM: Can you tell us about your radio programme ‘Relocation’?
It’s a sitcom about a London couple who witness a murder and get put into witness protection in the South Wales valleys. It’s set in Hirwaun, where my Dad was born, which is the direct opposite of London. I write and direct it, and I’ve given myself a small part, but I’ve been so lucky with the cast: Steve Speirs, Helen Monks, Clint Edwards, Vern Griffiths and Beth Granville are all superb. And if it comes back for a second series – I’ve got two new parts and have ideas in mind for who should play them.

CM: How did you get into all this? Did you always see yourself working in comedy? How did your career begin?
RM: I was always a fan of stand-up and comedy, especially as a teenager. I remember being thirteen and laughing along to ‘Have I Got News For You’ when the audience laughed, and pretended I understood what the joke about Ken Clarke meant.

‘Mock The Week’ was a real game changer for me – I adored Russell Howard, saw him many times, including at my local comedy club, the Glee in Cardiff, where I handed my CV in, and worked behind the bar for six years. I did my first gig while working there, and had certain shifts where an act got stuck in traffic, so did a set, before going back to work behind the bar. I love that place immensely – they’ve all been so good to me.

CM: Where do you see yourself going in the future? Do you have any big aims or ambitions…?
RM: I definitely want to keep writing stand-up shows and touring them. I’ve got a few sitcom scripts in various stages of development, and eventually would like to write films and books. I get quite bored doing the same thing over and over again, so it’s nice to have a few different jobs at the same time.

CM: What happens next with this show? Are you going on tour?
RM: I will! Probably ten to twelve dates next spring.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after the festival? Do you have any new stuff planned?
RM: My wife’s due to give birth on 5 Sep. So that will be where my immediate focus is. And then I’m writing Ellie Taylor’s new Radio 4 series with her, and then touring my show in the Spring.

Robin Morgan performed ‘What A Man, What A Man, What A Man, What A Mighty Good Man (Say It Again Now)’ at Laughing Horse @ The Pear Tree at Edinburgh Festival 2019.

Photo: Matt Stronge