Can stand-up save your love life? Self-confessed nice guy Steve thinks so. That’s why he’s asked Alice, an up-and-coming stand-up, how to make people laugh. It’s his last-ditch attempt to distract his girlfriend from the funny guy at work. Unfortunately, misanthrope Alice believes in comedy much more than she believes in love, and may not be quite the guru he was expecting. A comedy about comedy, that asks whether nice is ever funny and whether sexy is ever nice. Ellen Waddell is in Edinburgh with Don’t Be Terrible this month of August and spoke with The Fountain about the show in more depth.
TF: You are bringing Don’t Be Terrible to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how excited are you?
I am exceptional excited. We did a run at Free Fringe last year, and have now been transferred to the Pleasance Courtyard. Having seen some of my favourite performers there, it feels like a dream come true.
TF: Don’t Be Terrible certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
It’s a pitch black comedy play that asks ‘can stand up save your love life?’ and it straddles the thin and meta line between stand up and play. Our main character, self-confessed nice guy Steve, thinks comedy can salvage his relationship. That’s why he’s asked Alice, an up-and-coming stand-up, how to make people laugh. It’s his last-ditch attempt to distract his girlfriend from the funny guy at work. Unfortunately, Alice believes in comedy much more than she believes in love, and is not the guru he was expecting.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I wrote Don’t Be Terrible with Oliver Milburn, and the initial idea was inspired by a break- up. I do stand up comedy, and the night after I got dumped I went to do a gig. Unfortunately, a lot of my set was about my boyfriend, and I kept forgetting to say ex and I ended up completely bombing the set. But instead of slinking off and apologising, I just flat out told the audience what had happened to me. It definitely wasn’t funny, but it felt like the most honest thing I had ever done in front of a crowd, and probably better then what I was attempting to do that night.
So this inspired the idea about two people who also used stand up to deal with their love lives. One to fix a relationship and one to get over a relationship. I pitched the idea to Oliver, as we went to uni together and he is a freelance director and writer, and he loved it. We wrote the script together over a few months, and both bought our own experiences and observations of relationships to the piece. Also Alice’s stand up sets are the actual ones I wrote during my break-up.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
For first time performers, I would say to be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Also find a good support network, and try and get as much sleep as possible. I am excited to see Alice Frasers new show, and I always try and catch Racing Minds, who are an improv group who also all do exceptionally strong solo shows.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Don’t Be Terrible?
Hopefully get a run at a London theatre, and get enough clout and good reviews to get more plays written and performed at The Pleasance.
You can see Don’t Be Terrible at Pleasance Courtyard, Bunker One until 25th August at 23:00. For tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/