Performer: Robin Clyfan Photograph by: Ollie Harrop Show: The Sea Is Big Enough To Take It Venue: Heroes @ Bob’s Blundabus Promoter: Indie
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
I had to take some time away from comedy to look after my mum and The Sea is Big Enough To Take it is a show about our relationship and that time.
It’s about what’s it was like to have had a vociferous feminist, ideological and very loving mum. It’s the story of going to the seaside with my family, and my mum screaming at the sea and challenging me to ‘do more politically’. My mum was part of a generation who thought they could change the world – and did. She also had a solid public-sector job for most of her life – where as I’m a performer working in the gig economy and I have done some pretty extreme things to make a living – including racing pigs, sending someone to space and commentating on people as they get electrocuted in the face and balls on obstacle courses. So, it’s about those generational tensions, and how to make money and keep your integrity. It’s a story telling show with some fun games thrown in, and……..partial nudity. I’ve also just discovered that the venue I’m performing in (the BlundaBus) is 6ft high and I’m 6ft 2, so the show is fast becoming about back pain.
Tell me about your first gig.
It was an improvised comedy gig at University, I pretended to be a turtle, it was awful.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
- A high octane work out montage to ‘jump’ by Van Halen
- Whispering ‘you can do this’ over and over again to myself in the mirror.
- Cajole and threaten an audience into the room.
- Let the tears come. What I really do is, boringly, stretch.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
“Stands out in too tight, too small trousers’ was a nice score settler for me at the Edinburgh fringe 2011, as I’d told the producer that my trousers were too small right from the start from the start of the run. I once did a show with a Tudor prog rock band at the Barbican, and a reviewer described the show as ‘out of date for the 16th century’ and to be honest it was shit. The Metro have described me as a ‘joy to watch’, my Dad however has only seen me perform once and all he said was ‘there’s still time Robin’.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
I plan to write my reviews out in blood in massive letters on my bedroom wall.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
Credible experienced reviewers are a god send, I think most comedians just want a fair review from someone who knows what they’re talking about and is easily blackmailable. But yes, there is a time and a place for feedback.
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?
Whether or not something is legal is a technical question for lawyers to argue over, and how to train a dog to do that is a question for Crufts, but do I think what he did was morally wrong? Yes, and he should be held to account for that. The dog I think should not be punished.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
It’s not so much a question of subject as permission. If you’re the victim of something or have experienced trauma then I think it is your choice if you want to discuss that, and that can be empowering and progressive. If you’re ridiculing the victimised, then I think that is a problem. It’s a question of who’s your target? And is it your story to tell?
Have you ever gone too far?
I wore a nappy, a bib and a bonnet on stage at Rockness festival, whilst a few hundred Scots shouted, ‘he’s a baby, he’s a baby, he’s massive chain smoking baby’. I danced on stage for hours covered in glitter and off my tits on fags. No one needed to see a man in his late 20s chain smoking in a nappy.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
At Secret Garden Party (a music festival) I made 8,000 people have a powder paint fight which looked amazing. I have also hosted the Shoreditch Paw Pageant, a fashion show for dogs, and hosted a gameshow in which the winner was immediately catapulted into the sky on a giant reverse bungee, which was exhilarating for all involved.