Title of Show: Njambi McGrath: OutKast Venue: Gilded Balloon – Turret Time: 3:00pm Dates: 5th - 28th August (except 14th August) Photograph: Steve Ullathorne Links: Profile and Social Media
Tell me about your 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show.
As a kid, I was an outcast. I had no natural allies. Sandwiched between 2 older sisters who were inseparable and 2 younger brothers whose games were rough and annoying meant my only companion was a dog. Boarding school was worse. It was a cold, rigid uncaring institution. I know what it feels like to be Prince Harry. Making friends was an arduous chore. I hoped that joining the choir would give me a sense of belonging but was kicked out at 8 years old for ruining the harmonies. I was that kid. A loner. As a teen I dreamt of becoming a model so when I came to the UK I thought that was it. Nope I was told there was no modelling work for black people. So I am full of quashed dreams. If I was a white boy, I’d have a high school massacre under my belt but in Africa we don’t have the 2nd Amendment, so I became a book worm. My Edfringe show is called OutKast.
How many shows have you appeared in at the Fringe and what has the Fringe done for you?
I have done eight fringe solo shows and one mixed bill. The Fringe is difficult to quantify. I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t done it whether I would be where I am today. Having said that, having an audience and performance space for a whole month is an intense form of training and can only make you a better performer.
The fringe, I like to think of as a market where one exhibits their craft. It’s an international hub that brings an international creative industry into one hub and that bears the potential to be seen by anyone. I feel the fringe has elevated my brand and brought me audiences I would not have had.
What is your most memorable moment from the Fringe?
My most memorable fringe was when my favorite radio program presenters introduced themselves at the end of my show and asked if I would like to be a guest on their program. This was a shock as I’d written jokes about being interviewed on that program and so when it happened it was pretty awesome.
Other comedians who are doing better than you. Lol. It’s competitive and it’s hard not to compare yourself to other comedians. Other people always seem to be doing better than you and when you speak to them they don’t see themselves as doing that well so it’s a case of the grass being greener on the other side.
If you were not a performer what would you be doing?
The only reason I am a performer is because I failed at everything else and was always too much of a clown. I guess in another world I would love to be a singer or a be a model so I could try all those clothes and never pay a penny for them.
How do you prepare for a performance?
Before going on stage, I still get nervous. I get thirsty and need the toilet as well as blowing my nose. I worry that I will need all those things whilst on stage and I fear I won’t be able to control myself. usually begin working on a new show when I return from Edinburgh. The end of the fringe is anti-climax and often feel low and deflated. At the start of the fringe, is like spring with all the promise of a beautiful summer harvest but by the end one looks at their poor yield and a sinking feeling. It’s at this time I think, let me capitalise on the agony by putting it on paper. It takes me about a year to write and hone in a show.
What is your favourite thing about being in Edinburgh?
I am a social animal and it’s like seeing your friends every single day and hanging out. I love the comradery.
Who or what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by comedians who are unafraid to speak their truth and do so with conviction. I know she was divisive but enjoyed the sharp tongue of Joan Rivers.
What is the best advice you have been given so far and by who?
‘Talk about what you know’ is the advice I was given by the comedy promoter of the first show I ever did. My set was terrible and unnatural. Best advice ever.
Outside of performing what are your passions?
I love exercise and books. Lately I have been reading books written by colonisers because I love to understand the rational of global pillage. I enjoy walking in the park listening to audio books so killing 2 birds with one stone.
What do you want to get our of performing at the Fringe?
A Netflix Special.
Sum up your show in five words.
Fun, interesting, thought provoking and funny.
Why should we see your show?
Everyone should see my show because it’s the most memorable thing you’ll do with your time.
Tickets: Njambi McGrath: OutKast