Tell us about your show. Why should we go and see it?
My show is a look at the lighter side of having Alzheimer’s. With a synopsis like that you can see why I need the whole hour to get into the nuance. It’s a show about my family has had a lot of issues with Alzheimer’s but there’s light and shade to it. Please don’t worry, it’s not an hour of jokes about not remembering things.
You should come and see the show because with so many people likely to get some form of dementia in the future, if we don’t learn to laugh about it now we’re really going to struggle.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?.
My hope for this and every Fringe I’ve ever done is that the approval of strangers finally plugs the whole in my soul. But if that doesn’t happen I’m hoping to make a bunch of people laugh. It’s why I love stand-up. There’s nothing like that connection you can get with an audience.
Also, in previous years I’ve done shows about the news, but this one is very personal. It means I’m either going to connect with the people who see my show on a deep, profound level, or I’m going to take any heckle really personally. I can’t wait to find out which.
What makes you laugh?
I love all forms of comedy. From a Molière farce to some dark bit of stand up that is right on the edge of what you should think, let alone say. I find myself listening to stand-up specials when I’m out on a run or doing the housework. They’re better than a self-help podcast to get me in the mood to take on the world.
Also, even though I try not to, a YouTube video of people falling over will eventually get me to laugh. I keep trying to hold out but it always wins.
What three words best describe your performance style – and why.
Fast – I try to slow down, and I manage it, but then I get excited again, speed up and have to tell myself to slow down. I get tweets from the who listen to my podcast saying I should slow down. They have a thing on the apps that let you listen at slower speeds these days. Try that.
Honest – I have tried to deliver material from the point of view of a character or a persona but I can’t get away with it. If it’s not coming directly from me the audience can tell. It’s such a shame as I’d love to pretend to be cool once in a while.
Confident – This is a word that people have used to me about my performance style. It always shocks me. It’s not how I feel when I’m on stage but I’m happy that I can fake it without even trying.
How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?
This is the first show where I am actually trying to change minds during some part of the show. I’d love it if the audience realised that some attitudes to Alzheimer’s actually make it harder for those with it and those caring for family members.
I don’t know if everyone will change their minds right away. I’ll be happy if I can plant a few seeds that get thought about years later.
What kind of shows – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?
This is the first time I’ll be bringing a family with me. My family, don’t worry. My son is one and that means I can go to all of the children’s shows that are on in the day. I suppose I could have gone to them before when I was a childless bachelor but I’d have received funny looks.
The cost of living is a big issue this year – will it make this Fringe more challenging?
I remember when the 2008 credit crunch happened and we all predicted the death of the entertainment industry. What actually happened was that people stopped spending the big bucks in theatres or cinemas and spent less going to see stand-up instead. You have no idea how much I am hoping the same thing happens again.
What do you predict will emerge as the big themes of this year.
I am sure there will be loads of shows about how you can’t say anything in comedy these days, while saying all of those things that claim they can’t say. It’s the same effect you see when people say on TV that they’ve been silenced. You’re saying that on TV!
Of course, if my work dries up after my show, I’ll be back with one like that next year.
Who is your showbiz idol and why.
It was always Robin Williams. When I was a child I loved watching Mork and Mindy. That was before I even understood what stand-up was. Then I found out Robin Williams was one of the best exponents of this strange stand-up art form I discovered. I don’t have the same frenetic energy in my stand-up or the chemical motivation for it, but I love the swirling pool of randomness that can happen when you go off script.
Later in life I realised his story also included a dementia related disease, so he has remained an important story for me.
What is your idea of a perfect Fringe moment?
The best moments I have ever had are when you bump into people who have seen your show earlier in the week and they want a chat. I had someone shout one of my punchlines across the street to me like it was a catchphrase. Having people shout, “His and hers steak knives,” at you is fun but confuses everyone nearby.
Steve N Allen: Alzheimer’s? I Can’t Even Remember How To Spell It
Gilded Balloon Teviot
Until 28 August