Ian Smith - On The Mic

Performer: Ian Smith
Photograph by: Edward Moore
Show: Craft
Venue: Underbelly, Buttercup
Promoter: Bound & Gagged Comedy


Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

My show is about confidence, companionship and for some reason, origami. I can’t really say why, but the show is under obligation to include quite a lot of things that are quite a hassle to include in a stand-up show, like origami. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.


Tell me about your first gig.

My first gig was in York when I was 17. My Mum and Dad drove me there and wait outside because I didn’t want them to see me die on my arse. It was a 10-minute slot, I had 5 minutes of material and improvised the rest about March of the Penguins – I don’t remember what I said, but that bit went better than the stuff I’d written.


Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Last Edinburgh, I seemed to get into the pattern of running through the order of the show very quickly while pacing around and having a go at myself if I missed a bit. Very calm and measured. I also roll up my sleeves, roll them down again, roll them up, roll them down and say to myself, ‘Just keep them up this time’ and then roll them up, roll them down again, and then roll them up and keep them like that.


Tell me about your best and worst review.

The best would probably be the first time. I got a 5 star review for a solo show, that would have blown me away. The worst is probably one I got after the projector broke and my show involved a massive amount of projection stuff, and that didn’t seem to be accounted for, or mentioned in the review. I think they must have thought it was a weird theatrical piece.


During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?

I’ll try not to, I usually see the star ratings but don’t read them until the train journey home.


How do you feel about reviewers generally?

My opinion on reviewers probably differs depending on the review I get.


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?

I heard about this, but I wasn’t that engaged in the story – it feels far away from the sort of Fringe and circuit comedy I’m involved with. I’d say, if you’re making an animal do a Nazi salute to ‘Gas the Jews’ you’re not in the right.


Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?

Aeroplane food.


Have you ever gone too far?

I once suggested doing a stage dive and the audience seemed up for it – but then people seemed to lose their nerve, so I just jumped into a pile of empty metal chairs. That felt painful and like I should’ve listened to the crowd.


Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.

I think, as much as this isn’t a funny or interesting answer, probably one of the Fringe gigs last year. I was really proud of the show and I think whenever you do a new show that you’ve been agonising over, and it goes really well, it’s the one that’s going to stick in your head.

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