Black Sheep

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 Eddie Mullarkey and Mag’s McHugh have teamed up
The result is emerald, comedy emerald!


Hello, so first things first, where are you both from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Mags: I was born Watford England. Irish parents from Co Mayo. Irish upbringing. So Irish Dancing (Not Riverdance standard) Holidays in Ireland . Never felt English whatever that is. Just wanted to marry Elton John. He married Renarta, I was devastated. In my 50’s now. I moved to Ireland to care for parents. My Dad loved comedy and lent me his chair. I still live in Dublin and for now it’s home.
Eddie: I’m from Galway in the rainy west of Ireland. I’m based in sunny Dublin.

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When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
Mags: People laugh at me when I’m acting normal. I’m bewildered really as I think a bit differently… I did stand-up as a wee break from minding my parents. I knew I could talk to people as I work in recovery and with groups. Comedy was a challenge.

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When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
Eddie: Hmmm… my family always make fun of each other, I’ve three older sisters that used to call me ‘Edwina’ when I was a young boy. They tried to convince me I was a lesbian girl, so comedy and jokes were necessary to get through that sibling rivalry. And we watched all the Marx brothers repeatedly on VHS tape, watching Groucho Marx try to scam self entitled people probably developed my passion for comedy.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Mags: The first time I did a real gig there was laughter. I was so shocked I came off stage early. They loved my psychic set. Comedy is a vehicle for change for me. It’s a place to play.

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You’re Washed up on a Desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo. What three movies would you bring?
Eddie: I hope there’s buttered popcorn on this island. The Sound of Music – and the sequel ‘Ex nuns vs Nazis.’ Marx brothers – A Night at The Opera. Coen Brothers – No Country For Old Men

Last year a reviewer saved your life, what’s the backstory?
Mags: A reviewer said ‘Mags is funny and quirky as a chipmunk’ bit intriguing it made me look up chipmunk as I wanted to see what one looked like. Mainly Fat cheeks! He was right very fat. Next day I was busy trying to see myself in a window reflection without looking at the road. (It made sense in my head) I got hit by a white van. I didn’t see it at all. Long story short. I had gone blind in my left eye and was in heart failure. 2 ops on eye and heart and I’m grand now.

Where and when did you two meet?
Eddie: We met a little after Brexit, I cant remember what comedy gig, she made me laugh and then she helped me organise a few gigs and we’ve been laughing since. She’s a very cheeky lady.

Last year you came runner up at the Irish competition ‘Show me the funny’, how was that experience?
Eddie: It was a really fun gig, I hadn’t been doing comedy too long so I was ecstatic afterwards. My sisters kept my ego in check by saying Mags was robbed.

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You’re performing at this years Edinburgh Fringe. What are you guys bringing to the table?
Eddie: We’re going to bring some levity to the mental health discussion, laughing at yourself is the best therapy as Freud said. Together the two of us are bringing two very different life stories, Mags is in her 50’s and grew up a devout catholic. I’m in my 20’s and grew up with porn on a mobile phone. Different realities. Different struggles, different anxieties. It’s a very fun show.

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What are you looking forward to the most about returning to the Fringe?
Mags: Oh looking forward to getting accessibility and domestic abuse into comedy arena. Making people laugh. Throw in Fat,OCD and the madness of making same mistakes repeatedly and working with Eddie of course coz he is class. He’s funny and clever.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to someone on the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Eddie: Mags grew up as a black sheep, she claims to have an award winning vagina. Eddie is trying to stay woke. Mags just wants a nap. Different generations with the same guilt. Join us for a laugh.


Black Sheep

Sofi’s Southside

Aug 1-25 (12:00)

Black Sheep

An Interview with Konstantin Kisin

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The Russians DO have a wicked sense of humour…
Konstantin Kisin is living proof


Hello Konstantin, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born and grew up in the Soviet Union, then Russia. I now live just outside of London.

When did you first realise you were funny?
I broke my arm playing basketball and found myself cracking jokes in the emergency room to keep everyone calm as they straightened my arm out!

How did you get into stand-up?
I went to a comedy festival where I saw top tier comics doing clubs sets for 8 hours a day, 5 days in a row and naively thought “That looks easy – I can do that!”.

23509094_10159714357840531_2394626030599129146_o.jpgWhat is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It’s a buzz. I think the most addictive thing about it is that it’s unpredictable. One night you’re killing it, next night you’re struggling. You never know how it’s going to go so it keeps you hungry and sharp.

Can you tell us what you know about the comedy scene in Russia?
There isn’t much of one. To have a genuine comedy scene, you need a freedom scene.

Can you tell us about Kilkenomics & your role?
Kilkenomics invites some of the leading political and economic thinkers in the world to participate in debates hosted by comedians. It’s the perfect place for a political comedian like me!

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You’re debuting at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
A show about being in the middle of a major international newstory, being saluted by John Cleese and abused online by Katie Hopkins.

What are the ingredients that make your show special?
It’s a funny but intelligent, informative show that pushes back against woke dogma and restriction of free speech.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
Did you see the news story about the comedian who refused to sign a safe space contract? Wait, don’t go!


Orwell That Ends Well

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Aug 1-26 (19:00)

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www.konstantinkisin.com

An Interview with Chris Brannick

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Sex, Love, Comedy, Drama & of course, Annie Lennox, all meet in a magical play from Death & the Dominatrix


Hello Chris, first things first, where are you & Karen from, & where are you at, geographically speaking?
It’s a long-distance working relationship – Karen’s in Huddersfield, I’m in London.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I want to think, but not to think I’m thinking. Not to be told to think. I want the author and the actors to slide in bits of thinking under my consciousness without me realising it.
I go to the theatre to be entertained, really.

Can you tell us about your experiences at last year’s Global Motion Picture Awards?
Surreal! I entered two screenplay competitions – I got to the quarter finals of the PAGE International Sceenplay, which is a biggie, and randomly entered another one for no reason I could think of. Then I got the email saying I’d won both Best Screenplay and Best Character Development. That was it. No Business Class flight to Los Angeles, no ticker-tape parade down Hollywood Boulevard – just the email. It’s great to have the recognition. Any writer will tell you how painful it can be to keep writing, not knowing whether anyone really rates or appreciates it. I could still have done with meeting Susan Sarandon, though.

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Can you tell us about Two Foolish Productions & your role?
We put together Two Foolish Productions just as an experiment to take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe and three years on we’re still experimenting. I’ve got this not-so-guilty passion for the music of the 80s and I wanted to know whether I could write plays that would incorporate that. Get Fit With Bruce Willis was a title that randomly leapt into my mind one day. So far the plays have used the music of Jimmy Somerville, Marc Almond and Annie Lennox. We both like comedies that have a heart. Something that makes you care for the characters even as you’re laughing at them. We like our characters vulnerable. Karen’s a fabulous director and slave-driver, and she also has a great mind for plotting. I always say these plays are co-written but she doesn’t see that, as she never actually puts any words down on the page. She’s the organ grinder. I’m just the monkey.

You’re bringing a new play to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – can you tell us about it?
It’s a play about power and sex and love and disappointment. Karen plays an ageing Dominatrix who’s summoned to the afterlife by Death. But not death as we know it… he’s had a rebranding, now he’s more touchy-feely, more user-friendly. She’s a hard-nosed businesswoman, he’s a corporate suit. Turns out both these are just shells for the real person underneath.

What is it about being performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
I don’t think it’s about being ‘in front’ of people – the great thing about live theatre is that you’re in the room with them. We’re on a journey together and even though I’ve been through this journey many times – performances and rehearsals – I still want to make it fresh and real. That’s the challenge, and it’s great…

Comedy-drama is a difficult theatrical genre – what are the secret ingredients behind a good mix?
When we find out, we’ll let you know! You have to believe the characters. You have to believe that they’re always doing what they think is right, even if it’s a stupid idea. You know that cliché ‘act 1, force your character up a tree; act 2, throw stones at them; act 3, get them down’? That still holds, you just have to make the stones ridiculous and the tree preposterous. I really admire Richard Curtis (‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Love, Actually’ etc) even though I hate myself for admiring him. Every character has a gaping wound that he remorselessly exploits for drama. Comedy drama does that but just adds… err… comedy.

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How much of the play’s main character, Maggie Taylor, is drawn from your own life?
Ha! How is a mini-skirted, thigh-length booted, corset-suited woman based on my life? Well… Karen and myself both enjoy talking about sex and we get an especial kick when we talk about it with younger people who seem to think that we should have forgotten about That Sort Of Thing since we’re both So Close To Death. So the fact that Maggie is unapologetic about being a Dominatrix and regards it as a perfectly valid career choice works for us. The relationship between Maggie and her impending death is also a chance to riff on existentialist themes. I like to think of myself as the Camus of BDSM. Sisyphus in high heels.

You premiered at this year’s Brighton Fringe – how did it go & have you tweaked the show since?
It went really well. We did small modifications during the run, but the time since then has allowed us to do bigger tweaks. Sadly our strongest discovery – that the title sucks – came too late to do anything about it for Edinburgh. We were already committed.

What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together?
Quite often we’ve been in different continents. That’s quite challenging. Rehearsing by Skype doesn’t really allow you to practise prop setting (Karen’s biggest bugbear) though we got the lines crafted. The other big obstacle is common to every comedy writer – you never know whether a joke’s funny until the audience laughs. I’m devastated to have had to cut the original opening, which I loved… but nobody laughed. They were intrigued, but that’s not good enough at the start of a comedy.

How are you finding working with Karen Kirkup?
You call it ‘working with’, I call it ‘doing what I’m told’… It’s fab. She’s got such a good eye for structure, staging and plotting that I know I can come up with any idea, no matter how difficult to stage, and she’ll find a way round it. In Get Fit With Bruce Willis I wrote a nightmare scene in which she played four different characters all torturing my character. I think the script said ‘different hats, or whatever’, and I had absolute confidence that she’d either sort it out, or tell me why it was a bad idea dramatically.

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Why are you using the songs of Annie Lennox and Eurythmics?
Get Fit With Bruce Willis was based around the songs of Jimmy Somerville and the groups he’s been in, because I look vaguely like him and I have a similar singing voice. Painted Love took on the songs of Marc Almond because I’ve always been a massive fan. That’s two male singers, time for a female one – and who is more iconic and evocative of 80s music than Annie Lennox? What a voice. What a stage presence.
We knew we’d got it right when almost everyone we mentioned it to had the same ‘ooh….’ reaction. We don’t try to imitate Annie (who could?), but the themes of her songs – empowerment, sexuality, love, vulnerability – all hit the dramatic spot.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the play to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
It’ll make you laugh. It’ll break your heart. How often do you get whips, wit and existentialism in the same play? It’s sexy and it’s got a fabulous Annie Lennox soundtrack. Death goes management-speak – ‘it’s not death, it’s a negative lifestyle outcome’. Where else can you get all that at 1pm?

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
Writing the next play! Provisional title is ‘Hit Me, Baby’ (guess where we’re going musically with that one…) and Karen plays a woman who decides to take up boxing in later life but gets mistaken for a hit-woman. She finds herself unexpectedly contracted to take out a hit on a man’s wife…


Remind Me Again Why I Need A Man

Sweet Novotel

Aug 19-25 (13:30)

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www.twofoolish.co.uk

Oleg Denisov : Russian Troll

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The quintessence of satirical stand-up is Russia’s Oleg Denisov


Hello Oleg, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hi, I’m hailing from Moscow, Russia.

When did you first realise you could make people laugh?
It was early, age 7 or 8, and at the time it was mostly what I was busy with. Then I tried a few times to have a normal life, but failed and came back to the roots.

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How did you get into stand-up?
I’ve been writing comedy since school, putting on little plays and sketches, then did the same at University (In Russian Unis comedy sketches and improve form a competitive team sport called KVN – “Club of funny and inventive”, however it’s been neither of those things for the last 10-15 years). Then after a few low-paid and disrespected jobs (like teacher, film critic, data analyst etc) I got a job as a screenwriter, writing additional material for sitcoms and advertising. And after getting fired from there, I decided to take back creative control. So here we are.

You are a graduate in philosophy, has that in any way helped your comedy?
It has I suppose, in a way that both reading and teaching philosophy involves trying to make difficult (or core) idea clearer by putting in into context that’d help a particular person/group of people to understand it. When writing comedy, I go from the punchline (something that I find amusing myself) to the setup, and not the other way round, so my goal there is to make the audience see the stuff from my perspective in order to realize it’s funny in the same way I do. Therefore, understanding of people’s thought processes, what can influence them, and also structuring the routines are the things which are crucial to my comedy, particularly because I come from completely different background and live in a different culture than my foreign audiences. Philosophy (as well as screenwriting) help a lot with those.

Can you tell us about the comedy scene in Russia?
Stand-up is quite new to Russia, in the modern sense it appeared no more than 12-13 years ago, and got popular only after some sketch comedians produced a show called “Stand-up” on TV (what else would they have called it). Since then, and especially in the last 3 years it’s been gaining popularity rapidly, there have been big stand-up festivals in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Lots of open mic nights happen in Moscow every day. However, in terms of style it’s quite different from more developed markets like the UK, there’s no huge variety of styles (as the TV show is mostly the only point of reference to young comedians), mostly it’s either telling short anecdotes or basic observational. However, political humor seems to be getting increasingly popular, even though it’s not allowed on TV. Stand-up comedy in English started about 5-6 years ago in Moscow, there are about 20-25 comedians in town who perform more or less regularly. “Stand-up Cellar” is currently the most consistently popular weekly night that we started at over a year ago. It’s a PWYW show that runs every Friday in a small underground bar at the very centre of Moscow, and we’re really proud of the audience that it has shaped over this period of time. I think what characterizes it best is that visiting foreign comedians hardly need to modify their language, pace or material while performing, even though the audience is usually about 70% locals.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
An hour of magical realism and investigations into human nature, carefully disguised as political satire.

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What research materials have you been using and what have been the creative processes behind writing Russian Troll?
The final version of the show will contain a lot less current affairs stuff than originally intended. The name comes in part from the “Russian Trolls” as a popular news story, and in part from a scholarly version of how the mystical creature called “Troll” was invented by Scandinavian people. It says that in the old times, before people could draw maps, sometimes they would get lost in the familiar landscape at night, and after blamed it on some nocturnal creatures, “Trolls” that had meddled with the landscape and changed the positions of rocks, hills and so on. I find this a good metaphor for modern people getting lost in the landscape of their information bubbles and… well, you can work out the rest.

This is your third appearance at the Fringe – what advice do you have for a comedian making their debut?
Don’t expect anything, don’t worry, just enjoy your time. However, this advice seems to be a lot more relevant (and harder to follow) for people who are returning to the Fringe, like myself.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh, what would you say?
This is a show about Russia and the West, Putin and Trump, time and space, and other things that are a lot less definite than they seem.


Russian Troll

Champions of Festival @ The Scotsman

Aug 2-26 (16:40)

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An Interview with Sarah Lee

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Legal wizard by day, comedy genius by night, welcome to the Fringe, Sarah Lee


Hello Sarah, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
North London, born-and-bred. I still live about mile from where I grew up. (The red side not the white and blue side, before you ask).

When did you first realise you were funny?
I was at a party about 10 years ago and a friend came over and said “if I ever need to find you I just follow the sound of laughter”. That made me pretty happy and changed my perspective on myself.

Can you tell us about your day job?
I’m a hot-shot lawyer in the city. That’s not a joke, actually. Basically, if I can’t solve your problems in my day job, I can help you forget about them in my night job.

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How did you get into stand-up?
I have always thought stand-up was the coolest ‘art form’, because it’s funny in the moment but it also stays with you afterwards. Something can happen months later and it will remind you of a joke / idea and you can laugh again. As for me, I had a boyfriend who was Belgian. He said to me “Belgian people are not funny. If you were Belgian you’d be a stand-up comedian”. I liked the sound of that. So I signed up for an open mic.

You were a finalist in last year’s Jewish Comedian of the Year. How did you find the experience?
Well Jewish people are pretty damn funny so I was proud to have that accolade. It’s a fantastic competition and held at a really great venue. The judges were household names as well so it was great to meet them.

As a post-Millennial, do you find that comedy is changing, is the material of older comics still relevant?
Post-millennial? Are you ID’ing me? I’ll take that as a compliment. Comedy is changing but like anything, if it’s good it will stay good . I think people are born the same whatever century they are in, it’s just society that changes around us. I’m a liberal and come from a really progressive place, so in my comedy I like to play with the secret voice inside us that wants to be progressive but kinda likes the old ways.

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What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Long cycle ride (ooh I’m so sporty), end up in the pub for a roast and a beer (ooh I’m such a ladette), then home for a nap (face down dribbling into mattress) and gear up for an gig in the evening… Actually, in a case my mum is reading this, can you just write “spending time with my family”. Thanks.

You are about to make your debut at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
I’m doing a half-hour show so not my actual debut, but it’s my first full run. I’m a fresh female voice picking up on the nuances of liberal ideas. Also I’m a total goofball who talks about slugs. Something for everyone really.

What are you looking forward to the most about coming to the Edinburgh Fringe?
To when they crown me queen of the fringe and carry me aloft down the Royal Mile chanting my name. Or second to that, probably just how much of a laugh it will be.


Half A Man

City Café: Hollywood Room

Aug 1-25 (15:20)

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www.sarahleecomedy.com