Interview with comedian William Thompson

"This is probably the last interview I do before my full descent into madness. The next you hear of me, I could be living in the woods, feeding off Salmon and trying to get mobile data so I can stream GB News."

Interview with comedian William Thompson

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is William Thompson, a 26-year-old comedian from sunny Belfast, Northern Ireland. You may probably not recognise me but I’m just going to list things I’ve been on to make myself feel better about my career choice.

I have appeared on BBC One, BBC Three, Dave and in 2022, wrote and starred in the Channel 4 Blap, William of Orangedale. I was also a finalist in the 2021 BBC New Comedy Awards. 

How would you describe your show?

My show is an autobiographical one- the story of growing up in a council estate with cerebral palsy. It’s full of dark stories and some dirty jokes, but it is very funny. 

What is your favourite part of your show?

All of it. It’s all good. Start to finish. Come see it.

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

Probably “Going the Distance”, the theme from the first Rocky movie, as the much like the movie, the show is all about being an underdog and doing more than is expected of you- or failing to do so.

Or I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred. Because I’m too sexy to not be nominated for an award.

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

If audiences were to take one thing away from my show, it would be this- we don’t know what everyone else is going through in life. We don’t have a clue. I feel we’re very quick as a society to judge someone based on a two-second internet search and ignore everything in-between. Everyone has their struggles; they may just be different to yours. 

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

Probably Piers Morgan, because I would do something that annoys him, then I’d hear the satisfaction of him complaining about it for six months afterwards.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I want to spread my wings so to speak; the comedy scene in Northern Ireland is fantastic. It is home to a multitude of phenomenal comics who, if were born anywhere else, would be household names in the UK. People like Shane Todd, Colin Geddis, Paddy McDonnell, Ciaran Bartlett, Teresa Livingston. 

I want to come to Edinburgh and show that our scene should be represented more on the mainstream circuit.

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

Probably the cost (laughs while eating a spoonful of cold baked beans, that he is sharing with fourteen others).

I feel the cost has ostracised a generation of working-class comics, who are then ignored as they can’t afford to showcase their talents.

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

Oh entirely, I don’t think it’s possible for these things to not shape your artistic style in some form.

Certainly, coming from a working-class background causes you to develop a chip on your shoulder. And a love for anything cooked in Salt N Chilli seasoning.

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

The energy of a set that is going well is the biggest rush in the world. I’m not exaggerating when I say nothing even comes to the feeling of a room full of people laughing at something you wrote at two in the morning.

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

One time, while performing upstairs in a chicken-based restaurant, a particularly rowdy member of the crowd attacked a bouncer, and they engaged in a full fist fight. Whilst I was on stage. 

I proceeded to abandon my set and do a full running commentary on the fight. Very strange feeling to get laughs while a man is having his head jumped on just a few feet from the stage.

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

So many. I don’t even want to talk about it. I’m still working my way through it with my therapist.

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

Any time I receive feedback from an audience member that also has a disability, or has been affected by disability in some form, it’s always a bit more special. Knowing that some people feel represented or seen because of certain jokes you do is always a fantastic feeling. 

I don’t really pay attention to critics’ feedback. Mainly because they hate me.

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

This is my first time doing a full run at the Fringe, so I don’t really have an answer. This is probably the last interview I do before my full descent into madness. The next you hear of me, I could be living in the woods, feeding off Salmon and trying to get mobile data so I can stream GB News.

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

Oh so many, it’s hard to name them all. Frank Skinner is an absolute must. Celya AB is a phenomenal comedian, who’s newest show I’m very excited to see. Vittorio Angelone (don’t think I’ve spelt that correctly, but I really don’t care) [ed note. It’s spelled right!], Chris Macarthur-Boyd, Robbie McShane, Susie McCabe and Zack Zucker are also on my watch list. And probably the governments.

When and where can people see your show?

The Cellar at the Pleasance Courtyard, 5.30. Please come.

And where can people find you online?

WilliamThompsonComedy on all platforms.

Header Image Credit: Niall Horitz

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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