ED2020 Caro Meets ED2020 Comedy

Robyn Perkins: Comedy For The Curious

By | Published on Monday 10 August 2020

When recently perusing the line up of treats in store via the previously discussed online Free Festival, I noticed a TW favourite, Robyn Perkins, was due to appear on the digital Fringe this month, broadcasting ‘Comedy For The Curious’, a stand up science chat show, via Zoom.

I chatted to her last year, when she was performing at the 2019 Fringe, so I know how fab she is. With her Virtual Fringe outing looming, I arranged a catch up.

CM: Can you start by telling us all about your Virtual Fringe show? What’s the format and what sort of content can viewers expect?
RP: During lockdown, I started this stand-up, science chat show. Each show is one or two topics. I start with a science comedy set about the topic, followed by one or two – non-science! – guest comedians doing short sets about the topics, as well as discussing it with me. Viewers can expect interesting science comedy, hilarious non-science comedy and great chat.

CM: Would you have been at the Fringe this year? Is this show anything like what you’d have been doing live, if so?
RP: I would have definitely been at the Fringe! The past two years my shows combined science and comedy. So while that aspect of the show is the same, the content itself is different. With ‘Comedy For The Curious’, we cover different topics each show, so it is constantly changing.

CM: Has the cancellation of the Fringe had a tangible effect on the shape of your year? What will you miss about it?
RP: Bankers work in financial years, and comedians – or at least some comedians – work around Edinburgh. It doesn’t feel like August. I miss it so much. I miss the people, the energy, the artistic freedom and, most of all, the culmination of a show I had been working on for a year. My year doesn’t feel like a year without it.

CM: Do you think anything good can come from the cancellation of the Fringe?
RP: I know numbers were down in 2019, I THINK – though do not know – it is because accommodation was just too expensive for people to travel up. I am hoping the year off will encourage even more people to come in 2021 because they miss it! Optimistically, I am hoping the landlords of Edinburgh also miss the Fringe’s presence and lower prices for 2021 to make it more accessible.

CM: How has lockdown been for you? How have you kept busy? Have you managed to stay sane?
RP: I’ve been OK. I moved in with my girlfriend three days before lockdown. March and April were spent making IKEA furniture out of boxes. We are doing, great, though. It’s a big change to go from living apart to being in prison together… luckily she’s awesome.

As far as comedy, I have been performing at least once a week and have been SO busy writing for this show. Each week is two new topics which need to be researched from scratch and written about for my opening set. As such, each week has 15-30 minutes of brand new material. It’s keeping me VERY busy.

And to keep me sane, I have been obsessed with my tomato plants. For the first time, I have a garden. I planted tomatoes in April. The tomato plants expanded, so I think as of now I have 21 tomato plants, twelve peppers, eleven cucumber plants, four squashes, about fifteen beets and swedes, tarragon, mint, peas, runner beans, three potato plants, ten garlic bulbs, four types of basil, three types of rosemary, two thymes and a sage… and, as I typed this out… not so sane!

CM: There’s been a fair amount of live online comedy going on. Do you think there’s a future for that, alongside the live stuff?
RP: There is nothing that can parallel the energy of a gig in person. With platforms like Zoom, you can create interaction and hear laughter, which for the current climate is special. I think there is a place for online gigs, but they would have to offer something punters cannot get live, whether it is unique content or access to a comic that wouldn’t otherwise be geographically accessible.

CM: Obviously the industry has been hugely affected by the COVID crisis – do you think live comedy can bounce back?
RP: It will bounce, but I’m not sure if it will be the same. I am hoping the clubs that can survive will actually see an increase of punters once it’s safe to open again. The UK is great at supporting local businesses, including the arts. My fear is that live comedy will become more striated, where punters will be primarily drawn to fame.

CM: Has being a science-person helped you better understand the nature of the crisis, do you think?
RP: I think, a bit. I think basic knowledge of viruses versus bacteria, along with things like herd immunity and vaccines, have made it easier to understand what is going on. Also, fear can be bred from a lack of understanding, so from that point of view, I am lucky to have a science background.

CM: Will you be making plans for edfringe 2021?
RP: 100%. I will be bringing my show ‘MILLION DOLLAR MAYBE’ to EdFringe 2021, but I have a feeling I will ALSO be bringing ‘Comedy For The Curious’ to the Fringe as well.

CM: What else do you have planned for the coming year?
RP: In the next couple of months, I will be refining and re-recording each episode of ‘Comedy For The Curious’ and putting it into a podcast and online episodes. However, beyond that, I think I am just taking the year week by week. I hope venues are able to safely open for indoor performances soon and I am hoping Australia will be at a point of accepting comedians come January for the Fringes. With all of it, we will have to see. Oh, and on a personal level, it looks like I will have my first UK Christmas.

‘Comedy For The Curious: A Stand-up, Science Chat Show’ was presented as part of the 2020 Free Festival online programmewhen the full Edinburgh Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

LINKS: robynperkins.com | twitter.com/robynHperkins | instagram.com/robynhperkins

Photo: Steve Ullathorne