An Interview with Ed Night

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The young comedian is one to watch

The 21-year old comedian was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Comedy Awards at Edinburgh Fringe 2017. Now he is taking his debut show Anthem for Doomed Youth to the Soho Theatre.

Since coming third in the prestigious So You Think You're Funny competition in 2015, only 6 months after starting stand up, Ed Night has been one to watch. After his huge success at Edinburgh, Radio 1 has just announced him in the line up for a new late night comedy series nurturing young talent. London Calling talked to the newcomer about fame, Fringe and industrial warfare…

London Calling: How did you get into stand up? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?

Ed Night: Not at all! It actually started with a lot of extra curricular school activity and going to the drama club. I was a bit of an aspiring actor, I thought acting might be a possibility, but with the cost of drama schools that just really wasn’t a realistic option. And I quickly realised that I didn’t like acting as much as I liked comedy parts. I liked making people laugh. When I was doing youth plays it wasn’t the going on stage and saying the same lines every night that I liked, it was finding new ways to make people laugh. A mate asked me to go along and do a stand up gig with him, he didn’t want to do it alone, and that’s how it started.

LC: You took your debut solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe last year and were shortlisted for the Comedy award. Can you describe your experience of being at Fringe?

EN: For me, Fringe was quite a low-key experience. Nobody had me on their radar really so that was quite a good position to be in. It gives you the chance to exceed people’s expectations, leave people pleasantly surprised.

LC: The title of your show is quite interesting, you named it after a WWI poem by Wilfred Owen, how did that come about?

EN: I thought about all the standard comedy show titles, like a pun on my name or an enigmatic one word thing and then I thought what if I named it after a really serious poem about industrial warfare? That would really make me sound like a wanker. I told people about the name and they called me a prick and so, in a slightly masochistic way, I thought yeah that is definitely what I’m going to call it. Then I told my agent and they were like: great, so what is the Wilfred Owen angle? There isn’t one. It’s more about living with my granddad and going on tinder. It’s got nothing to do with Wilfred Owen whatsoever.

Ed Night (c) Karla Gowlett

LC: Some of the topics you talk about in your show are quite risky or considered quite brave. How do you pick your topics and do you think anything is off limits or just not funny?

EN: With some of the more serious stuff, I acknowledge in the show that this is not fertile ground for comedy. I don’t really like the Jim Davidson argument that you should be able to joke about anyone, I don’t particularly agree with that but nothing is off limits as along as you handle it properly.

LC: Some critics from Edinburgh called you “a future star of comedy” or one saw “the glimmer of a star”, how does that make you feel?

EN: My ego thinks it’s great! The rest of my brain wants to throw my phone in a river and move to Cuba. I’m not hugely comfortable with the idea of fame or celebrity if I’m honest. That’s something I’ve recently come to realise. Like I said, before Edinburgh I wasn’t really known by anyone. I was a finalist on So You Think You're Funny but that’s something only comics know about. Now, with the nomination and the Radio 1 show that has just been announced, I had to go make myself a Facebook page and had a panic attack.

LC: It’s all happening very fast for you.

EN: Yes and I don’t really like the idea. My ideal career would be like Daniel Kitson: nobody outside of comedy really knows who he is but he makes a living and he’s respected in the industry. I don’t really want to be ubiquitous.

LC: You were also called “the voice of a generation” which is such an overused term, but you are in tune with the whole millennial canon.

EN: I think I’m actually generation Z. I’m one of the oldest you can be in that generation bracket. So the “voice of a generation” thing is yet to be proved. It was heartening to see so many young people coming to the show because that’s who I wrote it for and the response on social media was really nice but I think I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a voice of a generation. That would be my ideal career path though! Just encapsulate a time and then die before you can offend anyone. That’s the plan.

LC: Do you have any tips for us, what are you excited to see in London?

EN: I can thoroughly recommend all the other newcomers at Soho Theatre. Jordan Brookes is very, very funny. It’s difficult to go out in London, as it’s so expensive. I’ve read a few good books recently, I would recommend them. I just read The Vegetarian by Han Kang, that was good, and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m not really up to date with theatre land. But go and see the new Tina Turner musical, because my mate is in that! I’m going to go see that on one of the preview nights and celebrate his rise to stardom.

Anthem for Doomed Youth is at the Soho Theatre 31 January - 3 February