Interview with Richard Gadd

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

Interview with Richard Gadd

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I'm Richard Gadd. Six feet tall. Arms like tree-trunks. Shock of hair, red like the fires of hell.

How would you describe your show?

It is a comedy/theatre show which takes place entirely in my head while I run on a treadmill. It won the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year and is returning for ten days only.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It is an incredible festival. If I look back on the happiest moments of my life professionally and personally, they took place there.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It is bigger and bolder than any other festival. Usually festivals take place inside a city or town but a lot of the ones I have been to feel like cities which just happen to have a festival going on inside them somewhere. The whole entire city of Edinburgh becomes a festival. Art gets put front and centre. I cannot think of anywhere else in the world that embraces it as much as Edinburgh does.

Do you think the Fringe has changed over the years? If so, how? Are these changes positive or negative?

I think it has become too corporate as the years have passed. Let's not forget the Fringe was set up as a battle against the Edinburgh International Festival which specialised in high arts catering to finer sorts of people. Arguably some parts of the Fringe have become as exclusive as its competitor with high ticket prices and massive overheads for performers. A lot of "paid" venues punish the acts with overheads of up to £6000 for the month. It is just absurd. The festival has become a victim of its own success and a way for PR companies and venues to make maximum profit off the hard-work of the artist. That is the biggest negative. Luckily the Free Fringe and the Pay What You Want venues are saving the day, but artists are still getting punished on the whole.

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

Laurel & Hardy, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Armando Iannuci – I mean I could list all the many, many inspirations I have had but there are too many. When I was growing up, that was the Golden age of British sitcom.

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

I like to think I would be following another passion. You need to follow a passion in life, regardless of whether you manage to make a living from it. So hopefully a footballer. Or a racing car driver. I'm too old to start those professions now so hopefully I am already doing them in a parallel universe somewhere and I can just skip between time-zones.

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

Footballer. I mean, come on, £300,000 a week to kick a ball about with your mates?

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Laurel & Hardy. The Music Box. Comedy at its finest!

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

Absolutely none. People have started to define their identity online. I know friends who are so vocal and opinionated and aggressive online who are nothing like the people I know in real life. I think social media can be a dangerous addiction. I would much rather ground myself in reality.

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

No. I think morality when it comes to work is important but this "outrage culture" we live in will be the death of art is we start catering to it. If we are afraid to explore or discuss controversial topics out of fear of reprimand then what is the point anymore? If people are more sensitive now, all the more reason to use controversy in your work – as long as it comes from a good place and not just for "shock's sake."

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Five words is not enough.

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

Hitler. I would take him skiing or something. I feel if he really got out of the city and embraced the air and nature, then maybe he wouldn't have been so cross all the time.

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 am doing a paid venue this year – I feel going back to the small pub where the show made its name would be too much stress at this stage. The paid venues negate the "stress" of the Free Fringe with tickets and lights and full-time staff who make life easier from an organisational point of view. That being said, I think learning to take care of the full organisational side of things on the Free Fringe only makes you stronger as a performer and creative. It is the necessary hard work you need to go through to get better. Also, the money side is better for the artist. See my answer a few questions back. The Free fringe rewards the artist for its art. Paid venues punish artists for their art. It is that simple.

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

Work your ass off and don't stop trying for a second. Give one-hundred percent and do everything you can to get people in to see it.

When and where can people see your show?

18th - 27th Summerhall. 11pm.

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

@MrRichardGadd (Twitter), /MrRichardGadd (Facebook),

Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do is performing at Summerhall at 23:00 on 18th – 27th August. 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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