ED2020 Caro Meets ED2020 Comedy

Vladimir McTavish: Best In Fringe Comedy and Chat

By | Published on Monday 10 August 2020

Fans of edfringe comedy will be very familiar with the name Vladimir McTavish and his many years of service in Scottish comedy venues. This year, like every other Fringe performer, this Edinburgh resident is having a quieter August than he’s had in a very long time.

The good news, however, is that he’ll be hosting an online show as part of the Free Festival’s digital programme this week. To find out more about that, and what it’s like to be in the unfestivaled Festival city right now, I arranged a quick chat.

CM: Let’s start with the online show you are doing this month via Laughing Horse Free Festival. What can audiences expect when they tune in?
VM: The show is an hour of comedy chat, banter and anecdotes from some of the funniest people who won’t be appearing in Edinburgh this year. As well as my co-host Stu Murphy, we have political stand-up John Scott; rising Scottish star Megan Shandy, who just got back from Hollywood before lockdown; comedy legend Ivor Dembina; and my old pal Craig Shaynack, an American comic who will be joining us live from Los Angeles.

CM: In what ways will it be different from the sort of live shows you do?
VM: The real difference is that we won’t be able to see the audience, and won’t be able hear any laughter from them, which can be a bit disconcerting. However, it’s much more disconcerting not to hear any laughter when you actually can see the audience!!

CM: In what ways will your preparation for the show be different?
VM: For the online shows, we need to have a technical rehearsal to make sure everyone’s devices work OK and that sound levels are consistent, etc. With a live gig, all you have to do is turn up and do the show. Of course, with live shows, you do have to remember to wear trousers, which is not quite as important when you’re broadcasting online from home.

CM: You’re an Edinburgh Fringe veteran, as well as a local: how does it feel to not be doing the Festival this year? And Edinburgh must be feeling very different at the moment to how it normally does in August?
VM: It does seem weirdly quiet for the time of year. There are a few tourists in town, but it’s not anything like as busy as a normal August. However, some things don’t change. It’s still raining, and Edinburgh Council are still digging up most of the streets in the city.

CM: What are you missing most about it?
VM: I’m missing meeting up with other comedians and drinking and talking bollocks until 3am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still drinking and talking bollocks until 3am, I’m just having to do it on my own this year.

CM: Do you think there are any positives to be taken from this year off?
VM: I don’t have to listen to other people talking bollocks at three o’clock in the morning.

CM: Over the lockdown there have been lots of theatre companies and comedy clubs and so on staging online shows. Do you think that online comedy might have a shelf life post-COVID?
VM: I think it may well do, now that the public have got the taste for it, and the comics have got used to the technology. However, I don’t think it will ever take the place of live stand-up.

CM: Live entertainment has clearly taken a hit during this period – how hopeful are you for its recovery?
VM: I genuinely think people will be eager to come back. Nothing comes close to performing comedy live in front of an audience who are all in the same room together, packed into a small basement.

CM: Have you been keeping busy this last few months during lockdown? How have you managed to stay sane?
VM: The simple answer to both questions would be to say that I haven’t managed to do either. Lots of people have been struggling to find things to do over the past four-and-a-half months. The guy across the road from me has been washing his car every day since mid-March. That shows how lockdown affects people. For the past eighteen weeks, I have kept myself sane by looking out of my window and watching someone else wash their car.

CM: What plans do you have for the coming year?
VM: If they let British people into the country by then, I’m planning on going back to Australia in 2021, to do the Fringes in Perth and Adelaide. But, the way things look at the moment, that is a very big “if”. It’s highly likely I’ll spend the coming year watching the guy across the road washing his car.

‘Best In Fringe Comedy and Chat… with Vladimir McTavish’ was presented as part of the 2020 Free Festival online programmewhen the full Edinburgh Festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.

LINKS: www.freefestival.co.uk | twitter.com/vladmctavish