TNC Archive 2011 
Interview

Doug Segal 
dougsegal.co.uk
Originally published in 2011

Funny story, I first met Doug Segal, the comedian / mindreader, on Social Media during a ‘live-tweeting' a breaking up between this rather beautiful looking couple…it was heartbreaking. Long story short I got to know Doug later that year during the 2011 Brighton Fringe. Since then Doug has won multiple awards and gained a loyal fanbase who, like me, have been awed by what he does and spellbound by how he does it.

 

Hello Doug, how did you get into performing, was it always something you wanted to do?

 

I studied psychology at uni & just worked out a few “party pieces” which, if I’m brutally honest with myself, I just did to show off  to my mates & impress women – occasionally successfully. When I left uni I worked for a top ten Ad Agency (eventually becoming a director), learned a lot about hidden persuasion techniques and continued doing my “little mind tricks” to entertain clients over lunch.

 

One day one of them, a major bank, basically bullied me into putting on a show at their conference.

 

What was your first time out on stage like?

 

Well I think about now & cringe, but it went well enough at the time for me to want to do some more so in what now seems like an astonishingly stupid move I put together a 2hr show, rehearsed the arse out of it and booked myself into the Baron’s Court Theatre for a 14 night run as “a bit of a laugh”.

 

I have literally no idea how, but we sold out all 14 nights.

 

One of producers of BBC One’s New Years Eve show happened to come along, loved the show & gave me two spots either side of the chimes on that years show.

I then suddenly found myself with the choice of staying in a ridiculously over paid high profile but high pressure and, to be honest, slightly soul destroying job or chucking it all in and being a poor but happy artist.

That was 6yrs ago & I’ve never looked back.

 

You all done and dusted for the start of your Brighton Fringe run or are there still some creases to iron out?

 

I’m actually doing a 21 date UK tour this year with the Brighton & Edinburgh Fringes at the heart of it.

 

Last night was the opening night in Bury St Edmunds and while it was  completely sold out, I got a standing ovation and lots of people said lovely things on social media I still wanted the show tighter. I’ve another sold out date at Jimmy’s Farm in Ipswich & two corporate shows to keep tweaking it in before I get to Brighton on 26th May.

DougSegalbrightfringposterweb.jpg
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What's it like being part of Brighton's line up?

 

Oh my god I had no idea!  I’ve done lots of theatre dates & I’ve been booked to play arts festivals many times before but the fringe experience is totally different. There’s just so many shows competing for so little media attention.

 

Promoting just the Brighton & Edinburgh shows has pretty much turned into my full time job for the last three months!

 

I was just reading the quotes that you have on your flyer, the Derren Brown one made me laugh the Zane Lowe one as well, has the feedback from the press been what you where expecting?

 

To be honest I’m always amused by the odd disconnect between previews of my show & reviews of my show. 

 

The previews always talk up how “spooky & mysterious” they think it’s going to be and then the reviews are always say “yes the mind tricks were mind boggling & incredible but I was really surprised by how funny & how much fun the show was”. Which is nearer the truth & what I aim for. I try so hard to explain to people that my show is all about giving the audience a good time, making them laugh & making them the stars yet all the previews seem to be determined to strike terror into the hearts of potential audience.

 

I think it’s ‘cos Derren is deliberately all spooky, demonic & scary – I’m the Anti-Derren.

 

Have you faced any obstacles in producing your show?

 

Funny you should ask…The main way I earn my living is doing my show after dinner at big corporate conferences. Because of the recession I was expecting this to be a quiet year for my “bread & butter corporate work” but I’m finding myself having my busiest year ever since turning pro. I’m doing 21 public dates & 18 corporate gigs in the next 14 weeks! My money making corporate gigs are getting in the way of my public tour.

 

Tell us a little bit about your show what can we expect?

 

I really wanted to make this show different from any other show in my genre so in this show I don’t just perform the amazing mind tricks you’d expect (for example I open the show with a live Lottery prediction). teach the audience the skills I’m using to do them.

 

You’ll learn to detect lies, implant suggestions, I teach an audience member how to read minds live on stage and every single member of the audience is taught a mind trick of their own to try out on their friends.

"I was very professional…I did ten mins, asked them if they’d sooner just go to the bar & and then ran!"

5 words that over people have used to describe your show?

 

Ok.. Edited down from the quotes on the tour poster:

 

"……Funny" The Evening Standard

 

"Miraculous…… " TimeOut

 

"Amazing!" Natasha Kaplinski, BBC TV Presenter

 

"….Freak!" Zane Lowe

 

"You…..!" Dave Grohl, Foo Fighter

 

You should see the poster for the full Dave Grohl quote (tease)

 

What was the Best and Worst shows you've played?

 

I have to say the opening night last night will take some beating.

 

We let in 20 more “standing room only” people than the fire regulations said we should & turned away another 20 or so. The audience were just lovely so I was able to riff off them & they gave me a standing ovation. It’s hard to beat that sort of night.

 

The worst? I was booked to do a corporate for 100 oil rig workers in Aberdeen. They were pissed when I got there at 5pm. I wasn’t on until 10pm. A fight broke out before the show and they were expecting a drag act. I was very professional…I did ten mins, asked them if they’d sooner just go to the bar & and then ran!

 

What do you think the audience takes from your show?

 

Like I say – a mind trick they can do at home!

 

Who has inspired you and your unique show?

 

It’s changed so much over the years. These days I’d say I’m probably most influenced by comedians & actors. I love acts who are brave enough to let the audience be the star of the show.

 

And finally, what advice have you been given and what advice would you give other performers who might be bringing a show to the Fringe?

 

Advice I’ve been given: Be prepared to lose loads of money and play to empty rooms.

 

Advice I’d give: Having a great show is just a  hygiene factor. The real work in a taking a show to the Fringe seems to me to be working as hard as you can to tell people what a great show you have and persuading them to see it.