Edinburgh Fringe: Kai Humphries interview

Fringe favourite Kai Humphries has a refreshingly unique and fascinating view of the world shaped by his exciting and colourful experiences, squeezing the most from life and bottling it into a show that will leave a big fat smile on your daft face long after leaving the venue. AAA caught up with Kai for a chat earlier this week.

How has your Fringe been so far?

My Solo show has been everything I hoped it would be, me talking with sometimes brutal honesty and my audiences enjoying the fact. I’ve had a lot of return audience members from previous show and it has feels nice giving those people what I believe to be my best show to date. Also knowing people who have never seen me before that are taking a punt on me are seeing my best work.

 Tell us about the show you’re in…

I’ve dug deep to find share true stories that most people would take to the grave. I find telling stories where you’re the victim or the hero are easy to share, but the stories where you are the sinner can come across like you’re bragging about something you shouldn’t be proud of. However, I remorsefully spill it all in a confession box scenario at the end of my show. It’s actually really liberating getting these things of my chest.

What’s the audience reaction been like?

So warm, every day I feel like I’m in a room full of my mates – they’ve been full of energy from the moment I walk on stage and have been relaxed and laughing hard. I think that with lots of people who have seen me before in the audience, they really trust me from the off and I don’t need to spend the first few minutes winning them over.

When did you realise you were funny?

I’ve spent my life laughing and being surrounded by laughter – before I even considered comedy as a career I always loved being entertaining (and being entertained) I worked long hours with good people and we always kept each-others moral high with humour. When I played Sunday league football, the dressing room was always a fun happy place to be. I never considered myself “the funny guy” in these situations, maybe that would be annoying, but I would always be part of the fun in these dynamics.

Were you the class clown?

I was good at roasting people that’s for sure. I was ginger and wore glasses and had bucked teeth, so I was quite the easy target but I always made sure I had more to say back to the people that teased me for these things than they could ever give me. I don’t consider that I was bullied because I gave as good as I would get and because this made people laugh it added value in a situation where I could have easily been a quiet boy that took s**t from other kids. I gave myself a fighting chance by being funny.

Can comedians get away with saying things no one else can?

Absolutely, in every other job “the customer is always right” seems to be a popular mantra. I got persistently heckled at Late ‘N’ Live the other night and spent my entire shift telling the customer how wrong he was, talking to the customer in such a way the rest of the customers laughed at him. I don’t think I could have got away with a dealing with a difficult customer that way when I worked at a leisure centre.

Was there a comedian who inspired you?

Although my style is nothing like his, I was hugely inspired by Jim Jefferies. I watched some of his early stuff thinking “Can you say that!?” and loving it. Most comedy I’d seen up until that point had been sanitised by television – and it blew my mind to find out how much freedom there was to live comedy and I wanted to be part of that. I had the privilege of opening for Jim earlier this year in Manchester and Ghent – it was a pleasure to gig with the man knowing he was a big part of the reason I started my journey.

Are there any other shows on this year’s Fringe you’d recommend?

Set-List. It’s a show that has five of the best comedians on the Fringe on every night and they have to improvise around suggested set list topics – there’s always a chance a superstar will be on the line-up because they love the adrenaline rush of it. In the past I’ve seen Eddie Izzard, John Bishop, Trevor Noah and Adam Hills on the show, amongst many others. The show is an institution at the Fringe.

What’s on your hit-list to see?

I really want to see a play called F.R.A.N.C, which has a cast of amazing Scottish comedians.

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

Day off?? I decided a few Fringes ago that if I’m here I want to be performing every day. I used to take a day off, but I really missed doing my show on that day. Also, shows are just one hour long. I have plenty of free time to enjoy everything Edinburgh has to offer – mainly the bars.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

If you’re here during the Fringe, I’d highly recommend the pop-up outdoor areas on George Square and St. Andrews Square – these areas have the best atmosphere of the entire Fringe. There are plenty of bars and good food stalls, with venues nearby if you fancy taking in an impromptu show. They aren’t here all year round, so definitely make the most of them.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen this year?

The Fringe never fails to surprise me. I was on Stephen K Amos’ chat show last week and one of the other guests was Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson. When she was chatting to Stephen, she re-enacted a scene from the Simpsons where Bart had a conversation with the Flanders boys, who she also voice acts for. It was one of the most surreal Fringe experiences I’ve had. I’ve gigged with many of my comedy heroes in the past, but I never considered that gigging with Bart Simpson was ever an option.

Sell your show in no more than ten words….

Funny, amusing, humorous, hysterical, witty, hilarious, jocular and other synonyms.

Kai Humphries: In Full Colour, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), 7.35pm,  until 28 Aug, www.edfringe.com

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