Experimental Music Love

August 10, 2008

Tim Vine – Punslinger

Filed under: Edinburgh Festival,Interviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 7:30 pm
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Tim Vine - slinging away.

Tim Vine - slinging away.

Tim Vine – Punslinger

EML’ showdown with the the quick-firing comedian

Jokes. Lots and lots of jokes. And also a lot of stupidity. Stupid songs, stupid stories and stupid jokes.” Fringe veteran, Tim Vine’s latest show may be one of the festival’s most simplest to describe this year, but its simplicity (and stupidity) shouldn’t detract from the effort made by one of the festival’s most consistently popular performers.

It is all planned,” explains Tim. “I’ve spent many an hour wandering around a field back home trying to get all these different jokes and puns to stay in there.” And there’s a lot to cram in there. Expect Tim’s show to consist of an hour of mercilessly funny quips and one liners along the lines of “velcro – what a rip-off,” all told with such childlike enthusiasm you can’t help but be caught in the absurdity and laugh along.

To Tim however, the fuss around just how he remembers so many jokes isn’t something he understands all too well, even after breaking the world record for the amount of jokes told in one hour – a terrifyingly high 499. “I don’t really see it as any different to what actors do,” he argues. “Remembering things like Hamlet would seem a lot harder to me, yet nobody ever asks these actors how they remember all their lines.”

Making his jokes the star of the show rather than his own ego makes Tim a refreshing alternative to many modern comedians, whose own personal agendas can get in the way of making people laugh.

In hindsight, I have tried to look back and imagine if I did start out like that as some form of protest,” he considers. “But I really think it’s just my natural act. My comedy heroes are all people who are just fun comics. But I’m also a fan of people like Jeff Green though, who do try and put some meaning into their act. There will always be a place for politics in comedy. It wouldn’t work if everyone put on the same performance as me. It’d be disastrous for my career for a start!”

Luckily, Tim’s career has veered away from such disasters, and 2008 marks the 15th year since his Fringe début. “That was just a supporting slot though,” he says. “My first full hour though was 1995, when I managed to win the Perrier best newcomer award. Things have just so much bigger now since then of course. There’s just so many shows. I remember in 1995 there was the odd corridor you could walk down and there wouldn’t be anyone telling a joke or performing a play, but now they’re just everywhere.”

One other change seen this year is the decision taken by the Fringe’s four biggest venues to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Fringe with their own Edinburgh comedy festival. But does such a commercial venture concern Tim? “If it’s something that’s going to turn out to affect the person who’s toiled over their show for ages, and makes it harder for them to get that break, then it’s defeating the real nature of stand-up comedy. It always works best when it’s not such a big event. There’s a promoter I know in London who puts on shows, and there’s only about 15 people in the audience, but I still enjoy doing them. There’s just zero pressure, and it’s the natural environment for comedy – just one bloke, on-stage, trying to show off.”

Tim has ventured from the realms of stand-up work however, recently starring in ‘Not Going Out’, that BBC One comedy which isn’t awful. “That’s thanks to Lee Mack (the writer, and Tim’s close friend) really. He wrote the pilot then asked me if I was interested to take part in a reading. I was unsure myself if it was the sort of thing I could do, but I think Lee trusted me with his writing and felt I could do justice to the jokes.”

But who would Tim suggest everyone went to see at the Fringe? “I have very good answer for that actually, and it’s my sister’s show. It’s called The Rules of Drama and Suspense with Bronya and Siony and it comes highly recommended.”

With his last words reserved for his family, Tim comes across as one of the humblest comedians you’d hope to meet, without a trace of the self-importance displayed by many of his colleagues. And with his packed schedule seeing him continue his Punslinger tour after August, as well as his perpetually successful festival runs, Tim proves that there’ll always be room for the traditional jester in modern comedy.

Tim Vine – Punslinger, Tim Vine, Pleasance Courtyard, 30 Jul – 16 Aug (not 6 Aug), 6.15pm (7.15pm), prices vary, fpp. 105

The Rules of Drama and Suspense with Bronya and Siony, Bronya and Siony, Sweet Teviot Place, 31 Jul – 25 Aug (not 12 Aug), 4.20pm (5.10pm), prices vary, fpp. 93


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