Interview with Alex Kealy

"I think political polarisation is very frustrating - I’m of the left and pro-Remain, but I’m trying to reach out in elements of this show. And you absolutely don’t get rewarded by audiences for this..."

Interview with Alex Kealy

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Foremost, I’m a board game enthusiast but yes it’s true I do comedy, too, and it’s political.

How would you describe your show?

It’s called “Rationale”, and it’s a political and personal comedy show about how rationality is an unhelpful concept, and that we are emotional, bodied creatures who respond more to appeals to meaning than to data. Absolute nightmare for someone whose dayjob is maths teaching, tbh.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It’s the best month of the year anywhere. Constant amazing art, theatre and comedy in my favourite city in the world. There’s also no better place to get better at doing stand-up.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

The scale is completely different to anywhere else. As a performer you can go on stage 6+ times a day if you want and can see 8 shows in a day if you’re a punter.

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

Stewart Lee, in the most cliched answer for any comedian between 24 and 40. Massively hamstrung me as a comedian for the first two years because I didn’t realise that to be able to subvert comedic conventions you must still, er, be a master of comedic convention. So I initially antagonised audiences rather than, like, telling jokes.

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

Sex astronaut.

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

Maths teacher.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

My parents played the Peter’s Friends soundtrack a lot in the car in the 90s and I remember it absolutely popping. Still not seen the film.

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

Absolutely and it su-u-u-u-ucks. I’m frankly fed up with working up good topical material only for it to become irrelevant within 2 months. I want to monetise this shit, baby! Garlic bread doesn’t keep resigning and being replaced by someone else.

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

I think political polarisation is very frustrating - I’m of the left and pro-Remain, but I’m trying to reach out in elements of this show. And you absolutely don’t get rewarded by audiences for this - empathy with the other side is treated as betrayal by your own and with suspicion by the other.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

The National released an album.

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

The inventor of the harpsichord just to see if, on the day the first one was built, it already sounded old.

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?

Ticketed pros: infrastructure, rooms without audiobleed, an audience that is familiar with those venues

Ticketed cons: it prices out a lot of younger arts-y audiences who would be great people watching your show, can be difficult to fill a room especially mid-week if you have a low profile, almost definitely you’re going to be landed with some sweet D£BT that you’ll pay off over the autumn / the rest of your life.

Free fringe pros: significantly lower costs and all bucket money to you, livelier audiences, people willing to take a punt if you’re lower profile, getting to explain insane internecine warfare between different fringe organisations like it’s different subsections of the IRA

Free fringe cons: some of the venues can be very poor quality (though many are brilliant)

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

Please don’t: this industry is already extremely competitive and I’m insecure.

When and where can people see your show?

Just The Tonic at The Caves [“Just Up The Road”], 6.40pm 1st Aug - 25th August (not Mon 12th)

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

Header Image Credit: Ed Moore


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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