Edinburgh Fringe: Paul McMullan interview

Cockney raconteur Paul McMullan brings his own brand of quick-fire comedy to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as he unveils his story of having no home, no job and two children and how these are the least of his problems. A candid and hilarious tale from this natural, charming storyteller revealing his fascinating journey from hitting rock-bottom to overcoming his struggles in this eagerly anticipated debut hour. AAA caught up with Paul for a chat.

How has your Fringe been so far?

Pretty good. I’ve acclimatised pretty well this year, though my feet feel a little bit damper than last year.

Tell us about the show you’re in…

It’s about me and overcoming a drinking problem while looking after my two sons. It’s a show about no matter how low you’ve gone you can always get better. It’s done in a funny, heart-warming way and I document some of the stupid things I’ve done along the way.

What’s the audience reaction been like?

The feedback has been amazing and some audience members have told me they identify with a lot of the story through personal experience or someone they know.

When did you realise you were funny?

I’ve always used humour, it’s the natural defence to adversity. I was never a confident child and making people laugh got me acceptance. In my previous career, I was a trainer – firstly in hairdressing to eventually health and safety – and that can be a really boring subject, but somehow I made people enjoy it through humour. It’s from that I started to thinking about doing this comedy lark as all my training delegates used to say “you should be on stage”.

Were you the class clown?

 Yes and no. I was a bit scared to be naughty, but given the right moment I could have the class in stitches.

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

 Yes, if it’s done right and it’s funny. If it’s done wrong or you’re just victim blaming, then no. No topic should be off limits but you will always run the risk of offending someone – usually it’s someone getting offended on someone else’s behalf.

Was there a comedian who inspired you?

Not really. I had favourites. I loved Eddie Izzard and his documentary Believe inspired me to keep going in the beginning. There are comics who inspire me now such as Jeff Innocent – he came into comedy later in life and is just a master comedian, so he inspires me that you can start at any age and get really good.

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

There are too many to mention, but always take a flyer, read it, and take a punt – if its awful leave. Also check out the really early or late shows you might just find a gem of a show.

 What’s on your hit-list to see?

I’ve seen Bill Burr (twice) and Louis CK, also something not comedy. I want to broaden my cultural horizons just in case I get asked to appear on a Radio 4 panel show. It always blows people minds to hear working class London accents talk about Chekhov.

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

 Walk the streets and just try to enjoy the city. It’s beautiful with so much history and it’s got some great museums.

 Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

 Haddock and chips from City Restaurant – the best I’ve ever eaten.

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

 A comedian eating a salad.

 Sell your show in no more than ten words….

When you hit rock bottom the only way is up.

 Paul McMullan: Alcopop, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 9.15pm, until 28 Aug, www.edfringe.com

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