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Theatre / Comedy 

Harmon Leon


March 22 & 23, 19:00 

MARCH 21, 2024 

A hit at the Edinburgh Festival: Meet Harmon Leon - the NYC comedian who lives a double life. On stage, he's the epitome of confidence. Off stage, he has anxiety ordering a sandwich at a deli.

But fear not, the one therapy that makes him feel normal is coming on stage doing “The Jokes!” A Multimedia extravaganza and existential nod to Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape – through happy times, through sad times, with friends, with strangers – the one thing that brings us together, and saved Harmon’s soul is “The Jokes!”

Hi Harmon, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current ahead of your shows this weekend in London. Are there any nerves ahead of the run at Rosemary Branch Theatre?

No nerves—just pure joy and excitement. I’ve performed at the Rosemary Branch Theatre before, and it's a logistically perfect theatre, so I’m excited to bring my multimedia extravaganza to this warm, wonderful venue.

What made you want to bring The Jokes Saved My Soul to London?

First, it’s always fun to bring a show you created on the Lower East Side of New York City to London. I created the show for the Edinburgh Festival in 2022, and I brought the first to the Rosemary Branch. Now that I’ve run the show at comedy festivals around the world, it's fun to come full circle with The Jokes Saved My Soul!

How did The Jokes Saved My Soul come about, and what can your audiences expect?

I’m inspired by music. One way to describe elements of my show is that I take what such UK bands as Sleaford Mods and Yard Act do with songs but incorporate that with comedy material.

Plus, my niche is creating comedy that incorporates lots of multimedia, AI, and tech. I always look for different ways to present comedy material that are outside of the norm. It enables me to back a joke or routine up with visuals, music, animation, sound effects, and other delights.

You say that this show is “an existential nod to Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape."  Can you elaborate on that a little bit for us?

There are elements where I incorporate video from my very first comedy performance on stage into the show to help structure the narrative. And all that ties together in a nice bow at the end.

Because of the tech and A.I. aspects of the show, is there a lot of flexibility with the content, with new stories, news, and ideas about A.I. coming out all the time, or do you like to stick to what you’ve written or planned?

Yes, but all that comes with building the show on the backend. There’s a lot of construction of the animation and tech elements to raise the level of performance, and it's particularly fun utilising the creativity of A.I. tools.

What was the reaction to the show when you performed it at EdFringe?

My favourite comment I get from audience members is, “I’ve never seen comedy performed in that way before.” (I guess that could either be a big compliment or a big insult.)


"...I always love to deconstruct the mechanism of comedy..."

How did you get into comedy and performing?

It's something I’ve been doing since I was a teenager; it was never a question of not performing comedy.


Did your background as an award-winning journalist help you?

Yes, several of my past solo shows were based on my stories from when I was a journalist at Vice, and I would infiltrate extremist groups and subcultures by posing as one of them. But journalism teaches you story structure, and I utilise that story structure in the framework of my shows.

What does your work say about you and the way you see the world?

My show has a lot of Brechtian alienation, and I always love to deconstruct the mechanism of comedy; thus, I see absurdity in everything, including comedy.

Of all the subjects and themes you’ve written about as a journalist and an author, which still shock or surprise you?

I’ve infiltrated a lot of extremist groups, but each year these extremist groups, particularly in Trump’s America, seem to be getting more extreme.

Looking back at your career, what would you say you’re most proud of?

It would be the eight books I’ve written and the documentaries I produced... Oh, and this show: Harmon Leon in The Jokes Saved My Soul—this Friday and Saturday at the Rosemary Branch Theatre!!!!

If there is any place you really love to perform?


How much has your approach to your writing and performing changed since you started out?

My use of multimedia and technology has gotten more sophisticated. Outside of this show, I also produce a show called A.I. vs. Human Roast Battle, where a machine-learning A.I. takes on a human comedian in a roast battle of tomorrow. So whenever new creative tech tools emerge, I try to incorporate them into my shows.

What is the best advice you could offer anyone wanting to get into writing or performing?

Just start doing it. Learn to fail and look at failures as lessons to become better at your art.

And finally, what would you like your audience to take away from your show?

I want the audience to walk away knowing how the jokes saved my soul!

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