Dan Clark: Growing Up For Edinburgh
Last week Dan Clark performed a couple of warm up gigs in preparation for the run of his new show, Me, My Selfie and I, at the Edinburgh Fringe. We were lucky enough to grab a chat with Dan after his sold out show at The Pleasance in Islington. Velveteer Mog reports:
In the past, Dan Clark’s on-stage persona has felt like an extension of his best-known on screen creation, Don Danbury. Although a tad more charismatic and a lot more musical than the feckless anti-hero from How Not To Live Your Life, the distinction between Dan and Don wasn’t always clear. Dan’s new show, on the other hand, sees him in more contemplative, grown up mood. Like most men in their thirties, Dan hasn’t abandoned his laddish youthfulness completely – you’ll be relieved to know that the wank gags are still there – but now they’re framed with moments of mature introspection.
Dan acknowledges that the shift in tone could challenge some of his fan base: “It’s my most personal and honest show,” he says, “For an audience who have come to see Don Danbury, and you talk about death and mortality when they’re expecting knob gags, they might get confused.” So why the change? He explains: “I fell out of love with it (comedy), and I didn’t like what I was watching on TV, so I thought if I’m going to do this again, I’m going to write a bit more from the heart. There are plenty of 30-something comedians just doing jokes; we don’t need another one.”
This is Dan’s first entirely-solo show for seven years, having previously gigged with guest musicians (in the shape of regular collaborator, Ben Parker), or in the case of his most recent stage show, These Songs May Contain Jokes, an entire backing band. He says that he misses the camaraderie of being part of a gang (“You feel safer when you’re on stage with other people”) and the buzz of rocking out with his musical mates every night – they regularly ended their set to standing ovations: “They were the most fun shows to play; nothing beats that…but I can’t afford to take those fuckers to Edinburgh!” He laughs.
Music still played a part in his warm up shows last week, however – even if it’s now one man and his guitar. Dan’s cleverness in weaving together strange comedy and genuinely tuneful melodies is something that distinguishes him from his peers. He acknowledges that ‘comedy + music’ is a magical mixture which audiences lap up: “Even if the material isn’t that funny, it’s the combination of it being quite amusing, with music – the room just loves it.” Dan notes that the comedy community is still figuring out whether it’s a cheap trick to get easy laughs or a sophisticated comedic ploy that cleverly works an audience.
The Edinburgh Fringe can be something of an endurance test for artists – nearly 4 weeks of tough audiences, late nights and – sometimes – bitter critics. Dan recalls a particularly biting review of his 2005 Edinburgh show, in which he was awarded 1 star. The following year the same critic gave him 2 stars, perhaps in recognition that she had been immortalised, none too positively, in one of his songs. So does a poor review hurt?
“Bad reviews are no longer yesterday’s newspaper,” Dan explains. “They stick around on the Internet. Someone googles your name and that 1 star review is the third thing that comes up!” He compares the power that the critics wield to that of Simon Cowell on X-Factor, “Except in print you don’t get the humour or charm you get on TV. It just comes across as vicious.” He sighs and smiles, “Aaah, I can’t wait!”
The Velvet Onion would like to thank Dan for taking the time to chat to us last week, and we wish him all the best for Edinburgh. Don’t forget that you can see show Me, My Selfie & I at The Pleasance Dome from 30th July to 24th August. For more information and to buy tickets take a look at this.
Besides his own show, Dan’s other recommendation for TVO readers heading to the Fringe is Every Loser Wins, a cabaret-based comedy featuring the lovely Kelly Wenham and Simon Salmon. Dan describes it as: “A character comedy show with silly and weird characters” and reckons fans of Boosh/Paul Foot humour will love it. To check it out for yourself, head on over here.
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