Title of Show: MC Hammersmith: Straight Outta Brompton Venue: Monkey Barrel 1 Time: 12:30pm Dates: 2nd - 27th August (except 8th, 15th & 22nd August) Photograph: David Wilkinson Links: Profile and Social Media
Tell me about your 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show.
The show is an entire hour of improvised hip hop comedy based on audience suggestions. People give me random words, their stories, and other suggestions, and I turn them into full rap tracks live onstage. There’s live-looping, autotuning, and very sexy gyrating (only for one routine, calm down).
How many shows have you appeared in at the Fringe and what has the Fringe done for you?
This will be my fifeenth consecutive year at the Fringe. Before I did MC Hammersmith performances, I took dozens of different improv shows to the Fringe, everything from improvised musicals to an improvised Sherlock Holmes play and even an improvised ChuckleVision. The Fringe has helped solidify me as that lazy dweeb who improvises everything and refuses to write material.
What is your most memorable moment from the Fringe?
I would love to say it was a good improv show, or one of my solo shows, or some sort of sold-out success story. But my most vivid memory of the Fringe was in 2014, stood on a ladder on the Royal Mile in the rain, with my improv team at the time flyering all around me, all of us reduced to screaming “PLEASE COME TO OUR SHOW” as people walked by and ignored us. I think desperation makes you humble.
If we overlook the capitalism, the month-long slog, the rain, the industry, the backstabbing, and the crushed dreams of thousands of performers, it’s probably the price of the sausages in Bristo Square. Twelve pounds for a hot dog? Come on now.
If you were not a performer what would you be doing?
I used to be a Harry Potter tour guide in Edinburgh – cashing in on the fact that I’m a skinny dark-haired English boy with glasses. The tourists used to dig it, and the money was great. So I reckon I’d still be doing a Debbie McGee and milking a small wizard.
How do you prepare for a performance?
I used to feverishly freestyle backstage, pretending that would warm me up. But really the best thing you can do to warm up – as with any improv – is relax and remind yourself to have fun. So now I vocal trill so my voice doesn’t get shredded. This tends to elicit an even weirder reaction from fellow comedians backstage than when I used to rhyme under my breath like a psycopath.
What is your favourite thing about being in Edinburgh?
I came to Edinburgh from London for university and just never left – I’ve been here since 2010. I adore this city. The architecture is beautiful, the people are wonderful, everything is walkable, it’s amazing for comedy, the Festival comes to town once a year, and it doesn’t crush your soul like London.
Who or what are you inspired by?
For freestyling technique: MC Juice and MC Supernatural. For hip hop punchlines: Big L. For dress sense: whatever is discounted at Next.
Tell us something your agent doesn’t want us to know.
My dream is to release a hip hop album about every service station in the United Kingdom. I’m told this is “too niche” and “nobody will like it” and “stop emailing me about this service station idea”. But I really think it has potential. “Killing all these rappers with my mad and crazy slaughter – where’s the best McDonald’s? Annandale Water”. See? Fucking incredible stuff.
What is the best advice you have been given so far and by who?
In terms of performing advice, Susan Messing (a brilliant improviser in Chicago) famously said: if you’re not having fun, you’re the asshole.
In terms of financial advice, my uncle famously said: if you die owing money, you’ve beat the system.
Outside of performing what are your passions?
Last week, me and my friends went on a pub crawl through Leith where we had to put our favourite pub in Leith, and our least-favourite pub in Leith, into a hat. We then selected six pubs randomly and had to visit each one in turn. Anyway, we went to The Slug and Lettuce in the Omni Centre four times. Best night of my life. What was the question?
What do you want to get our of performing at the Fringe?
I want to get out of performing on the final Monday. Some venues insist on adding one final Monday performance after the final weekend’s celebrations, so all the performers are hungover, and all the tourists have left town so there’s never anyone in the audience. But the venues still make you do it for some reason. Anyway, I want to get out of doing that. What was the question?
Name three other shows we should see and why.
Spontaneous Potter, Baby Wants Candy, and Shamilton. Three absolutely incredible improv shows from wonderfully talented casts. I am definitely not appearing in any of these shows this Fringe.
Sum up your show in five words.
Why should we see your show?
I’m obsessed with hip hop, I adore freestyle rap, and I get the most joy onstage from improvising with the audience. So I think all those things come across. If you’re a hip hop head, I think you’ll enjoy it. Also, it’s in Monkey Barrel, so the tickets are cheap. I cost less than a Bristo Square sausage. Come on now.