Performer: Christian Finnegan Photograph by: Mindy Tucker Show: My Goodness Venue: Gilded Balloon (Billiards Room) Promoter: Live Nation
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
MY GOODNESS is my attempt to suss out what it means to a passable human being. In the show, I present a handy self-examination by which you can determine your own personal good-ness. It’s also a bunch of dirty jokes, ill-informed political opinions and embarrassing personal revelations.
Tell me about your first gig.
My first gig was a weirdo open mic at an “alternative performance” venue Manhattan’s Lower East Side—poets, monologists, assorted perverts and, sure, a few comedians. I went on around 2am, right after a dominatrix. It actually went okay, because they were jokes I had been quietly writing for years. The next week I went up with brand new material and bombed so thoroughly that I’m still trying to wash off the stink 25 years later.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I had vocal cord surgery last year, so my pre-show ritual has become ten minutes of cornball vocal exercises. I hate it and any time I’m caught doing them, it feels like being caught masturbating to photos of livestock.
Pre-show rituals are mostly superstition and affectation. For a while, I would always have a Maker’s Mark on the rocks before a headlining set—I told myself that it got me “into the zone”. Then one night, after a really great show, I realized I’d forgotten to have my special pre-show drink and it suddenly seemed very pretentious. I still love Makers Mark—before sets, after sets, sometimes during. But that’s an altogether separate issue.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
Best review: Very enjoyable for the whole family!
Worst review: Very enjoyable for the whole family!
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
Well I’ve never had a bruise I didn’t feel the insatiable urge to poke at, so I don’t think I’ll be able to help myself. As you may know, comedy reviews aren’t really a “thing” in the States. Over here we’re treated like party clowns and prostitutes—just give me my jollies and go away, please!
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
This feels like a test. There’s a reviewer reading this right now, isn’t there? If so, I think YOU are wonderful and insightful and probably very attractive, sexually!
Honestly, I try my best to read criticism as dispassionately as possible. I’m probably more prone to believing the negative stuff than the positive stuff. But at the end of the day, I can only strive to be a better version of myself—and even then, I’m not going to appeal to everyone. I consider myself a Man of the Persons.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
By American standards, he certainly hasn’t committed a criminal offense. But I don’t know the minutiae of UK speech laws.
That said, every second spent talking about this dude is a wasted one. Was levying a fine wrong? Sure. But on a list of things that are “wrong”, the travails of some dude named “Count Dankula” are so far down, they’re beyond the vanishing point. You can tell a lot about people by the injustices that animate them. If this is the hill you’re determined to die on…maybe it’s time to re-evaluate a few things.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
Of course not. But I do think that some topics have a higher degree of difficulty. And what I’ve observed is that most comics who bill themselves as “politically incorrect” operate from a place of laziness. They don’t actually have anything new to say about race or gender or culture—they’re just repeating the Greatest Hits of whatever stereotypes people were laughing at 30 years ago. They get laughs, but they’re the laughs a child gets for farting in church.
Have you ever gone too far?
Sure. A lot of comedy comes from trying to muddle through a complicated emotion, and you don’t always get it right the first time it comes out of your mouth. But I quibble with the term “too far”. Too far for whom? There are people who look for offense in everything—always have been. But social media makes them more numerous and influential than they actually are. Most audiences just want to believe that your primary goal is to be funny—and maybe, just maybe, reasonably insightful! So if I’m taking on a sensitive topic and audiences aren’t responding, that tells me I haven’t found the right “in”. I certainly don’t think it automatically makes me a free speech martyr.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
Still waiting on it!