Performers: Will Dalrymple and Mark Bittlestone
Photograph by: Adrian Tauss
Show: Pity Laughs: A Tale of Two Gays
Venue: Just Up The Stairs @ Just The Tonic
Promoter: StraightUp Productions

Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

Will: It’s something of a sequel to our 2017 Fringe stand-up show of the same name.

Mark: This one’s much more exciting; it’s a live gay sketch/stand-up/multimedia comedy extravaganza! There’s a bit of everything in there. We get up on stage and make jokes about being gay in as many different ways as possible.

Will: At its heart it’s an exploration of what it is to be gay… or at least it would be if it had a heart. It straddles silliness, darkness and unsentimentality in a way you might not have seen at the Fringe before.

 

Tell me about your first gig.

Mark: I’d rather not talk about it.

Will: Allow me! We were both on the bill at an open mic night in South London, at the end of which an award was presented to the audience’s favourite act…

Mark: Which, on that occasion, was Will. As I said, I’d rather not talk about it.

 

Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Mark: Sex. Gay sex. I’m gay.

Will: I like to ring the organiser of the gig, cancel my spot, eat a KFC Mighty Bucket For One and wonder how it is that I’ve been doing the same five minute set for almost two years.

 

Tell me about your best and worst review.

Will: A lovely man from Broadway Baby gave us five stars last year and (according to our producer) we were the first comedy show of 2017’s fringe to get five stars from them. That was a great day.

Mark: A woman on Facebook wrote “felt like four hours and couldn’t wait to leave”, gave us one star and then wrote us an essay via private message describing our show as ‘devoid of intelligence or wit’ among many other dreadful things. One of her suggestions was to include content warnings (last year’s show was rather dark), a suggestion we have followed. Among the content warnings for this year’s show are:

  • Gays
  • A Gay Agenda
  • Suggesting that all gays are paedophiles
  • Making jokes to that effect

 

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

Will: Oh god yeah, automatically Googling your show name every two hours is a traditional part of my Fringe experience.

Mark: If either of us can put down our 1980s magazines featuring soft-focus photos of oiled, naked men than yeah, sure, why not.

 

How do you feel about reviewers generally?

Mark: Painful as it is to admit, they’re usually right about something, even if that something is that the show’s not as good as it should be. Reviewers’ comments can and have been incredibly helpful.

Will: Aroused if they’re men who are hot.

 

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?  

Will: I’m not au fait with the laws surrounding this issue, but however important you claim the ‘context’ is, if one has worked that hard to contrive a (feeble and unfunny) excuse to repeatedly say on-camera that obviously upsetting phrase, one is clearly out to upset people. In such a case, one is not a comedian but a provocateur and therefore should not be upset in the slightest to have provoked legal consequences as a result of one’s tedious actions.

Mark: *has been asleep for the second half of Will’s sermonising*

 

Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?

Will: How fit Gareth Gates is; there’s nothing funny about that.

Mark: ‘For comedy’ is a broad term. Shows like the magnificent Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ have proven that difficult and upsetting topics can be discussed in the context of a comedy show. In fact, our 2017 show made repeated jokes at the expense of my parents’ untimely deaths from cancer and suicide. I’d say the greater the skill, intuition and instinct the comedian possesses, the fewer the subjects unsuitable for comedy.

 

Have you ever gone too far?

Mark: Yes.

Will: Once.

Mark: ‘The Wank’.

Will: Last year we thought it would be amusing if I pretended to masturbate behind Mark’s back while he talked to the audience about his mother’s death. Several audience members strongly disagreed.

Mark: Suddenly your preaching about Count Dankula rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it?

 

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

Mark: I came runner up in the 2018 Max Turner Prize hosted by the Cavendish Arms, that was a fantastic gig.

Will: That one I told you about when I won that award. My first gig. I haven’t advanced one iota.