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Sunil Patel: Titan

By | Published on Thursday 20 July 2017

Between 2011 and 2013, Sunil Patel won or came close to winning practically every new comedian competition in existence, and has deservedly won much critical acclaim away from the world of contests as well.
To this year’s Edinburgh, he brings his second hour long show ‘Titan’, in which he broaches the topic of how, in an increasingly depressing world, he is actually doing okay.
I spoke to him to find out more, about his career, this year’s show, and those aforementioned new talent competitions.

CC: So let’s start at the very start, how did you first get into this comedy lark?
SP: ​I had a comedian as a housemate and I thought I’d give it go. Boring, right? Could spice it up a bit? How about: Patel emerged, fully formed, not born of common flesh and blood, but of light and steel, with a cracking five minute set at an open mic night above a pub on The Strand.

CC: You seem to have won or got to the final of pretty much every single new comedian competition in the country. Do you get a prize simply for entering every single one?
SP: I wish I did. Total prize earnings of zero pounds, unfortunately. The upside is that I get to lord it over my friends which is priceless. Actually, I do have a couple of trophies that I clutch as I sleep.

CC: Would you like to piss off all the important media and bookers behind those new talent awards by picking a favourite?
SP: Better than that mate, I’ll rank the fuckers…

1. Reading NAOTY. The 2011 winner was particularly impressive. Winner / finalists since then are talentless swine.​ ​Google and avoid them if you can.​

2. Piccadilly NCOTY. Got a hefty trophy out of this one and it was a short tube ride home.

3. BBC NCA. One night in a five star hotel in Blackpool AND a trophy. All paid for by your licence fee.

4. The rest.

CC: You’re bringing a brand new show to the Fringe. What can we expect from it?
SP: Fireworks, lots of audio visual elements, many, many dogs and too much empty boasting.​

CC: Your show blurb says that you can find laughs in the bleakest of topics. Given recent world events, does that mean you’ve been laughing a lot of late?
SP: Everyone’s banging on about ‘recent world events’ like it’s the end of days and – do you know what? – I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a bit weird, but we’ll be alright. On the other hand, I am concerned about the precarious trade situation re the EU – basically will we still get the cheese? They do very good cheese. And frankfurters, I like them.

CC: Your show blurb also mentions that robots might take over the world. What are the chances of this happening in mid-August? Could a robot keep a Free Festival audience engaged in a mid-afternoon slot at the Counting House?
SP: Yeah I forgot about this. I was thinking a lot about our future robot overlords when that blurb was written, but now I’m not so keen on it.

There’s every chance they could take over the world by mid-August, that’s the thing about those sneaky robots, they could be up to anything and you wouldn’t know it. Mind you, I think comedians are safe because no robot has shown the slightest interest in doing an Edinburgh show yet.

Also, I hear what you’re saying about the difficult mid-afternoon Counting House slot, but until it’s fully air-conditioned they’re in the same boat as me.

CC: Ah yes, you’re doing your show in the Free Festival. How annoying would it be if I asked you a predictable question about why you’ve decided to do a show in the Fringe’s free show strand?
SP: Please go ahead, I will as always give a straightforward and honest answer.​

CC: Why have you decided to do a show in the Fringe’s free show strand?
SP: Because I’m Che fucking Guevara​.

CC: Tell us more about the telly show. The one you’re in, I mean.
SP: ‘Borderline?’ Yeah it’s really fun. I play a baggage handler which is actually quite tough because I have very soft hands and weak arms. How do I manage it? By acting.

Also ‘Bobby And Harriet Get Married’ starts on Viceland in August. I don’t really remember what I said in it but I have a nagging feeling I did not come across well.

CC: Tell us more about the podcast. The one you’re in, I mean.
SP: ‘Why Is Harriet Crying’ started as a way of mocking my friend Harriet Kemsley – of the aforementioned Viceland TV series – and her propensity to be tearful over the most minor things, but has now turned into a monstrous juggernaut. I enjoy making it, but it worries me that Harriet has to constantly find things to cry about, and we’re now at the point she will probably cry about having to cry. I think our listenership enjoy this.

CC: Doing a full Fringe run is famously hard work. How are you preparing?
SP: I did a couple of sit-ups today and I will also buy an umbrella.

CC: And finally, what are your top tips for anyone entering a new comedian competition this Fringe?
SP: Be kind to each other, it is all we have. Failing that, remember there is no point doing anything unless you crush everyone and everything in your path. Be like the shark, a bloodthirsty monster zoning in on what it wants and not stopping until the flesh is ripping in it’s teeth and the whole world is a deep cloudy red.​

Sunil Patel performed ‘Titan’ at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House at Edinburgh Festival 2017.

Photo: Rob Grieg