Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

AlexMacKeith464 credit Karla Gowlett.jpg
Alex
MacKeith
Thanks For Listening
VENUE 302 - Underbelly, Bristo Square - Dexter
Aug 3-14, 16-28, 14:45 /  Tickets
July 27, 2022

Join Alex and his guitar and hopefully other audience members on an acoustic odyssey of songs that are playful, dark and maximum three minutes long. If you’re looking for a sexy, confident musical comedian, by all means please find one and bring them to this. 

 

Hi Alex thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current, how does it feel to be heading to Edinburgh Fringe and Underbelly this year?

 

It feels very exciting to be heading up, I’ve got to say. I’m proud of the show and excited to share it with people. I did a show with Underbelly a few years ago in a sketch group called Princes of Main and had a blast, so I’m glad to be back.

 

This is going to be your debut show, are there any nerves ahead of the festival?

 

Some nerves, but because I’ve done it with a sketch group I have a general idea of what to expect. This is going to be a big one though, and I’m raring to be a part of the comeback year. Any nerves are probably rooted in making the show as good as it can be, to dream the impossible dream, you know? I’ve been trying to channel the nerves into the show rather than into obsessive behaviours around the show. With some success, I might add.

 

What has it meant to you to win the Musical Comedy Award 2020?

 

It was a joy to perform in the final at the Bloomsbury theatre, even under socially-distanced conditions. They run a really excellent competition. It’s meant that I’ve gotten to know more musical comedians and learn from them, and I’ve got a few gigs out of the win which have led to regular gigs now, my favourite being the Sunday Special at Up The Creek. So it’s meant a lot!

 

What’s been the funniest comment you’ve gotten for your shows?

 

It was about a particular song which was fully disgusting: “Don’t do that one again.” It was one of the most helpful comments I’ve ever received.

 

During the festival are there any shows/performers you’re looking forward to seeing?

 

Yes! Britney, Rajiv Karia, Jo Griffiths, Pierre Novellie, Bella Hull, Crybabies, Sean McLoughlin, Celya AB, Jack Barry, Chris MacArthur-Boyd, Shelf.

 

Can you tell me how Thanks for Listening came about, what was the inspiration behind your new show?

 

I did a very rough set of songs for about twenty very generous friends in late 2018, before I’d actually started gigging solo. It was ropey as hell, but I felt there was something there. I started building up songs, doing more gigs, and a theme gradually emerged that all of these numbers were rooted in some kind of terror. So I guess the inspiration is fear, and finding a way to share those fears that people can relate to and — crucially —laugh at.

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"I thought I could just do it like a music gig and ramble a bit to set up the next one."

How much do you think your show will evolve/change during your fringe run?

 

I suspect early doors the set list will change as I find the rhythm of a show — a 2:45pm show will probably feel different to the evening previews I’ve been doing. My suspicion is that the chat around the songs will change a bit, fat will be trimmed, gags will be honed. I’ve got a couple of songs (B-sides?) in the back pocket in case something needs switching out if I get bored or realise a song is literally just for me. So I think it will change, but not to the extent that you wouldn’t recognise it. I actually have no idea how that would happen.

Have you always had a passion for music and stand up?

 

I have always sung a lot. To a problematic extent. Usually dumb, inane shit to entertain friends on long car journeys, that kind of thing. Or actually just for myself. I was more into doing character comedy at university, and I think the guitar is a way of keeping that thread going, taking up different perspectives or voices song by song. I think it basically took some time to get my guitar-playing good enough to warrant an audience listening to it for an hour. But I’ve always found songs and singing a natural place for comedy.

 

How much has your approach to your stand up changed since you go into musical comedy?

 

It has made me way more appreciative of the craft of the jokes between songs. I thought I could just do it like a music gig and ramble a bit to set up the next one. Turns out people don’t like that, and it torpedoes the following song (sorry, early preview audiences!). My respect for stand-ups who, unlike me, can tell jokes for an hour without a guitar has grown exponentially since I’ve been doing musical comedy. They amaze me.

 

Any tips or advice to offer anyone want to get into stand up?

 

Ok, from my limited vantage point, these would be the things I’ve heard from comedians which constitute sound advice: watch comedy. Read books by comedians. Emulate your heroes. Get used to failing. I bombed so hard at a gig in Leicester Square earlier this year and narrated my tale of woe to a very nice, genius comic who said: “You’ve got to do those gigs. Get hard.” That’s excellent advice.

 

And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from Thanks for Listening?

 

There’s a song at the end which says it all. I can’t give it away here, but everything I hope an audience will take away I tell them in the last three minutes of the show. See you there!