Interview with Phil Nichol

Phil Nichol takes some time to talk to Voice about the show, inspirations, and to give advice to young people.

Interview with Phil Nichol

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Phil Nichol, the Perrier Award-winning, 26-year veteran of the fringe. I was one of the founding members of Canadian cult comedy heroes Corky and the Juice Pigs.

I am a comedian. I love my job.

How would you describe your show?

'Your Wrong' happened because I was becoming fed up with the way we, as human beings, were/are interacting with each other. Whether it's correcting punctuation on someone's odd post about a 'flat earth' or listening to the stream of weirdness that is being tweeted daily from the White House or even our inability to pin down what is actual 'truth' any more. It feels like we are having a massive group psychosis. Our inability to listen and forgive will be the downfall of mankind. This show dissects the ludicrous nature of arguing through neat story-telling and hopefully hilarious personal anecdotes.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

The greatest explosion of the arts happens in Edinburgh every August and I'm always delighted to be a part of it so that I can get out see as much different stuff as possible!

What differentiates it from other festivals?

The sheer size and scope of it makes it a unique opportunity to taste a little bit of everything from the school reviews to the highest quality dance and theatre. It really does give you the perfect chance to explore the state of the arts!

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I was influenced heavily by my mother who was a fount of laughter and fun. She was always making jokes and made life ridiculous fun. I learned a lot about writing stand-up and story-telling from Phil Kay, Dave Gorman and Owen O'Neill. Dave taught me that when writing true stories it was best to leave the 'jokey jokes' out in favour of honest laughs because once the audience leaves the real world for the world of 'jokes' then you lose them as far as what they will believe of the story. Owen showed me that theatricality can meld with stand-up and that pathos is an effective device to wring tears of laughter out of the audience. The Scottish comedian Phil Kay showed me that wild abandon at it's best is the funniest source of entertainment as it allows the audience to be in touch with their deepest joy and childish sense of play.

If you didn't have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I'd be dead. Or snorkelling. Or both.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

The one that I am doing. Being able to travel the earth performing over 450 shows live on stage a year, making people laugh and sharing ideas is an honour/privilege that I remind myself daily make me one very lucky human being.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I decide to become an actor whilst on a school trip to Stratford Upon Avon in Ontario Canada when I was 12years of age to watch The Tempest. The audience of children were talking throughout until Nicholas Pennell descended from the gods dressed as Ariel, huge wings floating down with a booming voice captivating the crowd. The whole theatre were stunned into silence. I thought to myself- I want to do that. I want that kind of power. Haha.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

My show Your Wrong is about having fact-light and uneducated opinions based on your 'feelings' and superstition so it would be highly hypocritical to have anything more than a humorous take on current affairs. Did I dodge the question sufficiently?

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

Most definitely. Everyone is now an expert and we don't believe experts any more. Now, that we have realised that the earth is flat, that 9/11 is an inside job and that the moon is hollow we have, as a species, mush greater chance of meeting our maker, Elon Musk- The New Emperor of the Planet Known as Earth (Flat)

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

U-turn, false fact, Trump bugger

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Theatrically, I'm always left breathless with Mark Rylance. He is unbelievably talented, mercurial and I can't imagine not learning a huge amount from him. It would be a dream come true. I love Josie Rourke at the Donmar. She is a great mind and beautiful person. For comedians, Johnny Vegas and Bill Bailey are exceptional performers. And my summer at the Manchester International Festival was one of the best performance experiences of my life. Thank you MIF.

Why would a performer opt to do either a ticketed event or participate in the free fringe? What are the benefits and limitations of both?

I'm really enjoying the idea of working with Bob Slayer's Heroes of Fringe this year as I see the 'Pay What You Want' model being the most artist/audience friendly. It's not the 'free fringe'. You can reserve a cheap ticket before the show to ensure that you get in the shows that you want or you can wait for any empty seats on the day and pay what you want (can afford) This also the punters to take chances on things that they don't know without investing a packet but also allows for fans to make sure they see their favourites. I love this model and wish that it could be adopted Fringe wide.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Do it. Take a chance. Research the cheapest methods. Contact me and I'll help or put you onto someone who can.

When and where can people see your show?

I have two shows-

My solo hour of stand-up is entitled Phil Nichol: Your Wrong is at 9pm (3rd-27th) at Monkey Barrel (Headroom)

Also, I'm hosting a cabaret show Thursday - Saturday each weekend. It's called Phil Nichol: The Asylum 11.50pm at Monkey Barrel (Headroom) Co-hosted by Kirsty Netwon.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Phil Nichol: Your Wrong is performing at Heroes @ Monkey Barrel at 21:00 on 3rd – 27th August.

Phil Nichol: The Asylum is performing at Heroes @ Monkey Barrel at 23.50 every 3rd – 26th every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For tickets and more information visit the Ed Fringe website.


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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