Interview with comedian David Ian

"I decided just to sit on a random audience member’s lap and did my set from there. Which caught their attention, that’s for sure."

Interview with comedian David Ian

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m David Ian, I’m a stand-up comedian from London & one of the founders of The Queer Comedy Club - the UK’s first LGBTQ+ comedy club. I also present the podcast Mediocre Gay.

How would you describe your show?

The show is called David Ian: (Just a) Perfect Gay. So, Ive always wondered if Im the perfect gay or the worst gay, and I think it started because when I lost my virginity, I got a death threat and I was never sure if that was because I was so good at it or so bad at it – and ever since Ive always been really worried about being a perfect gay. Which doesn’t seem like something healthy to be worrying about but here we are! This show is my investigation of that! So, if youve ever felt like youre not quite good enough or youre slightly on the outside of everyone else then this show is going to speak to you.

What is your favourite part of your show?

The ending – I can’t really say much about it but I love the reaction that the ending gets, disbelief, joy, I really love the moment it hits. Makes me feel very connected to the audience in that moment.

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

Perfect day of course. Duhhh

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

That no matter how hard you try you are never going to be perfect, that you never need to fit in, you just need to belong to yourself and that all the rubbish stuff that happens – it’s the stuff that makes you. And if you’re really lucky you can tell people about it for an hour at 9.05pm… 

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

Cher because I’d like her to be at every show I ever do. There is not enough Cher in the world and I’m always wondering what she’s doing at any given moment. So it would be nice to know in that particular moment she was in my show!

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I mean it’s a lifelong dream right? Who doesn’t want to be involved in the biggest arts festival in the world. Plus, it’s so amazing to be surrounded by so many amazing performers all at once. It’s incredibly inspiring.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

History, size. I mean there just isn’t another one like it. Also, because it is so big it just has its own vibe which you don’t get elsewhere.

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

The costs obviously, especially accommodation - if anyone says anything else they’re lying.

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

Oh, that’s an interesting question. I don’t come from a family that was used to performing but because I was such a quiet kid my parents sent me to drama classes from age 5. And I just never stopped performing all through my teenage years. My school wasn’t supportive of performing though when I was a teenager and I’d say that really put a hold on my performing plans for a long time. However, as I got older, I decided it was something I could come back to. I’m so glad I did. But there was a huge chunk where performing just wasn’t accessible to me.

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

Live reaction, that instant feedback from faces. And the wonderful thing about stand up is you can respond in real time. 

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

Oh, there’s so many but the one that stands out the most is when I was performing in a very small village and an old man who was sat right in the middle of the front row did not like my jokes. He stood up about 2 minutes into my set and said, ‘oh no, not for me…’ and then stood there with his arms crossed…in the middle of the front row!

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

I performed in a pub chain that shall not be named and it was the most challenging venue for sure. We were performing on a raised part of the floor, but it was right next to the front door. The ‘audience’ was in two total separate halves with nobody in the middle and they weren’t there to see us – they were just there for the pub. In the middle section straight in front of you was the bar, which continued to serve throughout and the bar staff would call out to the regulars as they came through the door – right next to the stage. It was a tough night to be honest – getting jokes to land in that set up was a tough job. I decided just to sit on a random audience member’s lap and did my set from there. Which caught their attention, that’s for sure.

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

I was performing at a Pride event in Ludlow and these two young gay men came up to me after my show and wanted to talk to me. The show I had performed was unapologetically gay. They told me that they really appreciated me coming and doing that – it wasn’t something they got to see often, and they could relate to the material. They appreciated being in on the joke rather than the butt of it. I still think about the chat we had. It really impacted 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?

I love Edinburgh generally, so I do just love to be present, but I have to say getting to hang out with all my comedian friends like we all at some sort of crazy big university is probably my favourite thing to do. Although for my mental health I make sure that I do have a couple of early nights (as early as possible anyway) and I try and read a little as well – just normal things to give you some headspace.

Is there a show youre excited to see when youre up there?

Super excited to see Up to Scratch by Kate Dale but also Hung Drawn and Portered by Gail Porter - she is fascinating, and I can’t wait to see that show.

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

Do it with a friend was the best advice I have been given, I think. That way you can be a little team and in the bad moments you won’t be lonely. Or at least you’ll be less lonely. I also think it’s useful as when things are bad it gives me someone else to hate… rather than just myself!

When and where can people see your show?

Just The Tonic at The Caves - 9.05pm every day except 14th.

And where can people find you online?

Instagram - @mrdavidian

Website - www.davidian.co.uk

You can find my podcast, Mediocre Gay, on all the normal

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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