Interview with Jim Tavare

Jim Tavare, best know for playing Tom the Innkeeper from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, talks to Voice about his accident, his career in comedy, and why he doesn't feel the need to be a social commentator

Interview with Jim Tavare

Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Tom the Innkeeper from Harry Potter 3 but I’m probably best known for my participation in the Sketch Show on TV which won a BAFTA. I’m also known for doing a comedy act with a double bass called ‘Bassie’.

This is my first Edinburgh show in 20 years.

Since 2009 I’ve been working in LA on the back of a reality TV show called Last Comic Standing. I wasn’t planning on coming to the festival until something truly awful happened....

Tell us about your show?
Last year I was involved in a catastrophic road accident in the Hollywood Hills that left me with over 30 fractures, a broken neck, punctured lungs and a detached hand.

It’s not the best way to lay the groundwork for an Edinburgh show but I need to talk about it or I will go mad. It’s a survival-against-the-odds story of what happened when a spur of the moment decision leads to massive life-changing entropy.

Don’t worry it’s a comedy show.

Do you ever feel pressure to be a social commentator or constantly update material to respond to events?
People say it’s not a comic’s role to make social comments but Trump and Brexit are clearly the elephant in the room. I’m already doing jokes about a car wreck without the need to comment on the one made by the government.

As for Trump. He’s only for a limited time. Brexit is forever.

It is harder performing to a divided nation. I prefer to choose topics which don’t cross into the political spectrum. A comedy show is not the time for a debate.

Why do you want to perform in Edinburgh? Is it different from other festivals?
Edinburgh is the right place for me to tell my story. There is little in the way of a platform in LA for solo shows so I fought to get myself well enough to get myself over. If I’m honest, I’m pretty excited. It’s my new passion project. The show is a departure from random jokes into the realms of storytelling.

I also want to thank all the people who lent their support to me during a very difficult time. Add giant medical bills to the equation and the Free Fringe suits my narrative perfectly.

And the great thing about Edinburgh.... you don’t have to wait to be invited.

What first motivated you to join the industry? What were your inspirations?
I always felt drawn to the maverick work ethic of a comic. You make your own decisions, have complete artistic control and you don’t need any special qualifications. Just the determination and ability not to take things personally. I started at a time when the comedy circuit was full of characters and I found them all fascinating. A friend suggested I try out for the Comedy Store and when I went along it was shut for refurbishment. Went it opened again at a new venue in Leicester Square I was one of the first in line.

My early inspirations were Tommy Cooper, Víctor Borge, Morecombe and Wise and Laurel and Hardy.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show to the fringe?
I wouldn’t advise having an accident as the basis of an Edinburgh show - it’s painful!

However, you do have to hit the ground running at the Fringe. There is a duty of service you have to be aware of but I think we do it instinctively.

Describe the last year in 5 words?
Stuck in a disability bubble

What advice do you wish you had received when starting out?
In hindsight, there are lots of things I might change but when you are part of a new wave of comedians as we were in the early 90s it’s hard to make all the right choices. No one knew what they were actually doing. But I did learn it was better to listen to your peers and trust yourself rather than listen to managers and TV execs.

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is a Politics graduate, and holds a Masters in Journalism. He serves as Editor for Voice, and has an almost unhealthy obsession with Batman. His hobbies include gaming and reading graphic novels - his current go to series is Bill Willingham's Fables.

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