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When a childhood illness forced Ryan Cull to spend two of his formative years in leg braces, he did what any kid would do: blamed his parents, milked the situation for all it was worth and developed a skewed sense of humour. See him put all that trauma to good use in a sharp and poignant debut hour about overcoming insecurity and adversity and resenting the hell out of Forrest Gump. AAA caught up with Ryan for a chat earlier this week.
How has your Fringe been so far?
It’s been a real enjoyable Fringe. I was worried I’d run out of steam by now but I feel good. For the first time in my life I’m taking vitamins every day. I have no idea if they are working but I have the energy to write answers to these questions so they must be doing something.
Tell us about the show you’re in…
My Fringe show is about how I spent two years in leg braces as a child and how that has shaped my view of the world and most importantly myself. After years of health worries and body-image hangups, I’m finally facing up to the effect my childhood had on my adult self, and I’m ready to talk about it, one slow-burning insecurity at a time.
What’s the audience reaction been like?
The audiences have varied widely. Since it’s a 2pm show I am becoming huge amongst the oldest generation (and since they come to my show, I call them “The Greatest Generation.”). I think I must remind them of their grandsons. It’s definitely different doing comedy to people who just ate brunch and aren’t drinking – but it’s been a great run so far.
When did you realise you were funny?
I think I really developed my sense of humour when I was in leg braces. My parents used to sit me down in front of shows like Fawlty Towers, Allo Allo and every Mel Brooks movie they could find. I had no choice to develop a sense of humour. I definitely wasn’t going to be the cool kid, so I settled for the funny one.
Were you the class clown?
I was more the class interruptor. I’m not a big fan of embarrassing myself for a laugh, but I would always have a witty comment about the guy who was the class clown.
Can comedians get away with saying things no one else can?
I think they used to, but now with social media everything they say is scrutinised more than ever. I think politicians get away with it more than comedians. I see more comedians apologising about jokes than politicians apologising about wars.
Was there a comedian who inspired you?
The two that started me getting interested in comedy were Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld. Two of the best joke writers ever and Chris Rock’s Bring The Pain is the DVD I’ve probably watched the most.
Are there any other shows on this year’s Fringe you’d recommend?
I saw Abandoman who is always a must see for me. My fellow Canadian Peter White’s Straight White Mail is great. Also, Andrea Hubert’s Week, This Is Your Trial and Ari Shaffir’s storytelling show.
What’s on your hit-list to see?
I still want to see Damien Clark’s show, John Hastings, this play Angel, which I only hear amazing things about, and Sunil Patel’s “Juicer.”
What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?
I like to go see a mindless film, preferably action where I can just shut my brain off. This year I’m going to see Jason Bourne and am planning not to laugh the whole day.
Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?
Our hangout has been Bar 50, which I can’t really explain why. I think it’s because I help run a compilation show and they have really cheap drinks. At this point of the Fringe, it’s all about the cheap drinks!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen this year?
A Deep Fried Pizza. It just looked like something out of a nightmare but I guarantee if I took one bite it would be the greatest (and possibly last) thing I ever ate.