Interview with comedy writer & performer Brendan Murphy

"Before you commit to making a show to the fringe, it’s important to ask yourself *why* you’re doing it. What do you want to achieve? What is it that you’re hoping to buy up there? "

Interview with comedy writer & performer Brendan Murphy

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi! I’m Brendan, a comedy writer & performer.  I’ve written two comedies that will be up at the Fringe this year, the FRIENDS parody show ‘FRIEND (The One With Gunther)’ which won Best Play at the World Wide Comedy Awards 2021, and ‘Buffy Revamped’ - a Buffy The Vampire Slayer parody that won Best Performance and Best One Person Show at the DarkChat Awards 2022. I’m also co-creator and co-host of the ARIA award-nominated NonCensored Podcast, alongside comedians Rosie Holt & Eshaan Akbar.

How would you describe your show?

Although the two shows are quite different, I’d say both FRIEND (The One With Gunther) and Buffy Revamped are similar in the fact that they’re fun, fast-paced, playful, one-person parodies, retelling fan-favourite cult TV shows from a refreshing new angle.

What is your favourite part of your show?

It’s all about the fans, from the moment the show starts I get to see a room full of people already united in their love of the original TV series. People come along dressed in official merch, showing off their tattoos and sometimes even in cosplay as their favourite characters. I couldn’t ask for a better audience.

If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Buffy Theme by Nerf Herder, played on kazoo by Jim Carrey while dressed as Spike.

What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?

It’s all about friendship, facing adversity and overcoming your fears, and kicking ass on the way.

If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?

Although the obvious thing to say would be Sarah Michelle Gellar or James Marsters (and both are very welcome to join me for ANY performance they want), I think Spike’s best mate the unfortunate-looking demon Clem would probably be the best fit. 

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I keep coming back to the fringe because it’s unlike any other festival. Such a great opportunity for performers to try things out, find their audience and develop their shows. Without taking Buffy Revamped to last year’s fringe we would never have been able to grow from its first preview in a room behind a pub to selling out 1500-seater theatres across the UK & Ireland. It really is a special place for theatre and a playground for performers.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

The city of Edinburgh is an absolute stunner and makes even the rainiest day feel better. There’s so much to see, so many places to explore, it’s got staggering natural beauty and no end of historical and cultural landmarks. It also has a fair few pubs that are worth visiting too.

What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

The economics of it all. A common complaint, I’m sure, but in order to save such a brilliant and inspiring festival something needs to change so that anyone coming to the festival can afford the very basics without bankrupting themselves. 

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

Coming from an Irish Catholic family, I was born and raised in Birmingham and received a state education before moving down to London. So naturally my artistic career has largely been focused on intense feelings of guilt, shame and startling inadequacy! However, every now and then I just about manage to shake it all off by pretending that my parents weren’t school teachers at all, and were actually something really exciting like hedge fund managers! And that I didn’t live in the Midlands but I’m actually from somewhere great like *gestures wildly to the window* The South! If I’m lucky this lasts just long enough to write a comedy show, record a podcast or get cast in some kind of touring production. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?

It’s all about the claps. Ask any Nurse, Doctor or Healthcare Worker and I’m sure they’ll tell you the same, it’s the claps that we do it for. 

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?

While performing an early version of FRIEND (The One With Gunther) at The Vaults in Waterloo, I had a stage invasion by the largest rat I’d ever seen. Someone made a quip about it being one of Phoebe’s Rat Babies and we carried on, but the very next night the same rat returned at exactly the same moment in the show! Got to give it to the kid, he had timing.

What’s the most challenging or unconventional venue you’ve ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?

Birmingham, 1996. My parents’ living room. I had a Paul Daniels magic set and a Tommy Cooper fez, the scene was set. My uncle was in attendance and did not stop laughing throughout. The show was not meant to be a comedy. 

Is there a piece of feedback you’ve received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you?

An audience member brought his sons along to see FRIEND (The One With Gunther) at Edinburgh Fringe 2019, they were quite young so I was happy to see them laughing away and getting the references. At the end of the show, while I was packing up the stage for the next act, the dad came up to me and shook my hand. He said “I know I’m not meant to do this, but you’ve just saved me from an absolute meltdown, so thanks” and slipped me a £20 note.

What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you’re not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?

The big hill! It’s not the fringe without a stroll up Arthur’s Seat.

Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?

There’s a load of great comedy up this year, but I am especially looking forward to catching The Magic Of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows. I’ve no idea what to expect, it might just be some bloke reading extracts from a book he wrote but I’ve loved Pratchett’s work since I was a kid and can’t wait to spend an hour geeking out about it.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? 

You can do it! Believe in yourself! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! However, before you commit to making a show to the fringe, it’s important to ask yourself *why* you’re doing it. What do you want to achieve? What is it that you’re hoping to buy up there? It costs a lot of money and will take a great deal of work to make something worthwhile, so before you commit to going: make a list, be clear and precise, figure out just exactly what it’s going to take to make it happen, and then (if it all checks out and seems like the right decision) turn it into your passion for the rest of the year. And, crucially, enjoy it!

When and where can people see your show?

Buffy Revamped is on from 3rd - 27th August at 8.15pm, taking place at The Pleasance at the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre).  

FRIEND (The One With Gunther) is on from 2nd - 27th August at 4.00pm, taking place at The Gilded Balloon at the Museum.

And where can people find you online?

All the info is available at: www.buffyrevamped.co.ukwww.onewithgunther.com

Tickets available at: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/buffy-revamped &  https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4927/

All the social medias: @BuffyRevamped & @OneWithGunther (for the shows) or @NotMurphy (for the Brendan)

Header Image Credit: Steve Ullathorne

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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