Episode 3 Edinburgh Nights with Sue Perkins

Episode 3

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It is our final week here and Edinburgh is cram jammed


It is our final week here and Edinburgh is as Mary Berry would say


in between swearing, with musicians, comics and dancer, like Robert who


is doing his sexual charged version of Oedipus Rex.




Ladies and gentlemen, if you can still hear me put your hands


together for the Japan Marvellous Drummers.


APPLAUSE Thank you Japan Marvellous Drummers


from me, old English lady, you can see them at assembly square until


Monday. . Welcome to the last edition of Edinburgh Nights the


Fiesta is far from over. So please welcome our first guest, star of


stage and screen, and the man only ever a vowel away from Simon Cowell,


it is Simon Callow. APPLAUSE


What a joy. Indeed. What a joy to sit next to you you evergreen sprite


of the stage. Thank you. Your show is called Juvenal. Juvenalia. It is


based on the 57 AD poet Juvenal. An unusual starting point perhaps fors


a fringe show? It is basically 2,000-year-old stand up comedy. A


lot of stand up comedy feels as if it is 2,000 years old. My own


included! It is an amazing book. The 16 satires, he was a very angry


white middle lass man, who just attacked everything that he came


across, and, but brilliantly, funnily, outrageously, very


politically incorrectly, but you open that book and you recognise


that man immediately, there are plenty of him round. You have said


he was a is sort of Alf Garnett figure. His whole society was


changing round him and he felt frightened and threatened and his


way back at it was comedy, and it was savage comedy, and that is, you


know, that has been what stand up comics have done forever. We have a


clip here, let us take a look at you. Posthumous. Posthumous. Ho, ho,


ho. Are you really taking a wife? You used to be sane enough. What


fury has got into you? What snake has stung you? Why you endure such


Bishop tyranny when rope is available by the fathom. All those


dizzying top floor windows are open for you, there are bridges before


you to jump from. If none of these exits take your fancy, wouldn't it


be better to sleep with a pretty boy?


APPLAUSE Now, you first performed that 40 years


ago? Yes, that is right. 1976, at the Bush theatre in London, and it


was a rip roaring success, and had garlands thrown at it. Everyone said


this is grated, how wonderful, we did it here and the many people were


kind enough to say nice thing and one or two people said unpleasant


things about it. People who write for famous newspapers, and, and I


was amaidsed. They seemed to be suggesting that I was endorsing what


Juvenal was saying, instead of what, I mean I think I we all understand


actors do, which is to play a character who says things that...


You would think critics would have got used to that Not apparently yet.


You think that is due to the fact the climate has changed and people


are worried some of the things you say are potentially homophobic? I


think that is the anxiety. This is what happened with Alf Garnett, he


used to spout racist thoughts and the idea was, by him and the writer,


that the audience would go that is so terrible, but in fact a lot of


them said right on, we agree with you. That was the problem with Alf


Garnett. It is the problem with Juvenal. But that is in the nature


of that comedy. Be Fair play to you for bringing it back. It is


important to sort of dust it down and refresh it for modern times.


Yes, and also, it has to be said he was one of the greatest writers on


antic #2i, and a lot of what he said -- antiquity, somewhere inside that


mess was a vulnerable human being, you can see that clearly from the


book, and I think from the show, but also he articulated some of the


great thoughts about life, that Roman, lived by, and a lot of


British people live by until recently. Famous things about a


healthy mind and body. Britain's circuses Who will keep guard over


the guards themselves? That is another of his famous sayings. These


phrases were, you know, on everyone's lips for centuries. You


have a slight love affair with Edinburgh, how many, is it rude to


inquire when your debut performance was? 1973 so 41 year, I did my very


first job as an actor in this city, on the very stage I am working on at


this moment. The actual same venue The exact same venue and stage, but


in those days it was a, the international festival, it was a


play from the 15th century called The Three Estates. Every great


Scottish actor testify day was in it. People like Roddy McMillan,


Fulton McKay, John Grieve. Edith McArthur, all of them were in. It


was a member of something called the Young Lyceum Company we were a human


soundtrack, we lay there on the steps and went "Aye" and "No". That


is what a lot of Scots will be doing soon? Exactly. No don't know as far


as I know. So, why do you keep coming back? What is the attraction


of this city? Well, the location, the buildings, the feeling of the


city, incredible, and, I mean, I will come back for that alone, the


festival is something else. When came in 73 when Edinburgh was awe


much dour place than it is now, where it was, out of the festival


time it was almost impossible to find a restaurant on a Sunday, that


would accept your business. Accepting everybody else's business!


But, and, but the festival itself was suddenly, this party, this huge


party, It was, I must say the international festival more than the


Fringe. The Fringe was just growing then, but there was a fantastic


feeling of the city was alive and swarming, with artists of one kind


or another. Sometimes actors, singer, conductor, poets, it was


fantastic. Now you have I suppose, to add to that you have stand ups,


jugglers fire breather, and drummers. It's a carnival. It's a


great cultural carnival. To which you add in spades. Have to say the


gallant festival is still, juvenile nailia transfers to St James's


theatre London. As the festival enters its final week only one week


travels faster than a five-star review, that is a one star review.


Mark Watson has been looking at what it means for performers to have


success or failure. So we are almost at the end of the


fringe. It is time for performers to weigh up how successful their shows


have been. How do you measure success in Edinburgh? For a stand up


winning the Fosters Edinburgh comedy award is a good indicator you have


had a good year. Adam is back for the first time since winning You


have allowed me to play with you until it is time to go home. How did


taking home the big prize affect him? From that moment of being in


the room and being on a list, you feel you have gone up a level. And


then to win it is like OK, right, then it is not ever going to be the


same again. If there is one thing that is guaranteed to relax me at


the end of a long hard hour of comedy, it's a barely lessered


sketch with myself and a complete stranger in a makeshift shower


surrounded by electricity. This year's nominees will find out


tomorrow who is about to be catapulted to fame. So good luck to


all of them. But awards aren't everything.


Delighting the audience is what really matters here. This is


Kayleigh which puts a modern spin on the traditional Scottish dance


party. It has been packing in the punter, including me.


Wrong way! Then of course there is the dreaded reviews. Well, it is


important to remember that good write ups aren't everything. The


critics don't all get it right. The worst show at the fringe is a


showcase for those who have received one star notices. It reminds some of


the biggest names have attracted harsh criticism here I did a gig at


Broadmoor maximum security hospital, this is a true story of a gig that


went tits up. One man said your sanity brother means nothing to me,


nothing to me. Now that is a very tricky gig. That was pretty good it


going to show it is not about who takes home the biggest rewards, it


is about the awed wren who take a punt on a new show. Is struggling


performer today could turn out to be a superstar of tomorrow.


Cheers mate. -- audience. Well, my money is on


man on plinth in gas mask. Mark's own five-star show continues until


Sunday. My next guest has starred in TV comedies such as The Thick Of It


and outnumbered. She has been going it alone in her one woman play


written by Mark Ravenhill called Product. Please welcome the


magnificent Olivia Poulet. Now, Product, which I saw is


beautifully written and brilliantly performed by your good self, I have


to say. For those who have not seen it yet, can you take us through the


sort of rough story. It a satire about a, the movie industry,


basically. It a producing pitching a ghastly film project to a star let


about a girl who falls in love with a suicide bomber. It is an


extraordinary take on racism, and Islamophobia but Hollywood's desire


to sexualise women. You are doing one person shows, it is a very


specific discipline, is it not, extremely focussed. Yes. You are the


old hand at this, what do you think of the unique acts you need to


command an audience? The great thing is you know you have a story to


tell, you have to just lock that story in. And everybody wants to


hear stories, without exception, so it is about creating the


relationship with them, now, I haven't seen Olivia's play, but do


you talk directly to audience. No, we have done it so it as if... I


haven't got an actress in the room. I would be odd having someone 50


minutes of silence. So we have an empty chair on the front row, that


is her. That is a big difference. If you are talking to people directly


and looking them in the eye, you are in a very old relationship


and looking them in the eye, you are in a with the audience. If you are


in an enclosed world with the so-called fourth wall, you are in


another kind of world. That is also wonderful. It is slightly different.


I don't think you have to have that particular energy that you need to


relate to an audience. It is a nice refracted way of doing it. You are


used to doing collaborative work. Some of it is Impreza -- improvised.


Let's take a look at you in action. For the other lady in your life? It


was in my desk drawer. I thought I would say before something special.


To like losing your virginity. If your penis could talk it would say,


I'm lonely, where is everybody. Let me out of this coughing!


-- coughing. How many times have you been to Edinburgh? Three. I have


done bits and pieces of Edinburgh. 2005, 2006 and this year. Why do it?


Sometimes people do not need to do it but they feel compelled. I think


this one was about the play. Somebody had said to me a few months


ago randomly that I should do a one-woman show. This came up and I


thought the script was incredible. It was out of my comfort done. Give


it a bash. Do you always feel the need to push yourself in a


masochistic way? I have really loved it. Now I have got into the swing of


it. As Simon says, it is an extra ordinary, totally unique


experience. -- extraordinary. You also write as well. What are you


currently scribing? Quite a lot of scribing. Mannix riding. I have


written a feature film about four girls that rolled across the


Atlantic. Which is a true story? Yes, it is based on a true story.


Another film project that we are working on is about a girl who is a


stalker and her half sister, a funeral addict. She goes to other


people's funeral? Yes, she feels it gives her a purpose. These are real,


these people. people's funeral? Yes, she feels it


gives her a purpose. There is a funeral is anonymous. You comfort


people. And feel you are important. Exactly. How long can you write for


before the need to show off comes out? Yes, well I write with people.


I can kind of be a child with them! I am really looking over both of


them are working side by acting and writing, so I get to do two things


are really enjoy. It is a great show. Possibly going to London? Yes,


we're going to do it at the Arcola next year.


And Product has extended its run and is at Assembly until Sunday.


Now continuing our theme of success at this year's festival,


Loretta Maine's a gal who's got something to sing about.


# going to the Edinburgh fringe. # I've written down my deepest


thoughts, music just for you. # it is going to be so much fun.


# would unfurl -- wonderful Edinburgh?


# I love you Edinburgh. It is not going quite how I planned


but we are only one weekend. I have played to crowds of two.


# who knew living your dreams would be so much fun?


# thank you, Edinburgh. Watch people stamp upon your face.


# I love you Edinburgh. Someone come and see my show! Thank


you! I think I'm going to make it.


23 days and no one has died. # at least you remember me next


time. Goodbye, Edinburgh. # come November, I'll start thinking


about Edinburgh. # the abusive partner, I adore. #


I'll keep coming back for more. # it will be different next year, I


sure. # cos I love you Edinburgh. # #.


Strong Independent Women at Assembly till Sunday,


My final guest tonight is an actor, comedian and writer, Omid Djalili!


So, a writer now? Yes, I know. Do you feel incredibly posh? I do,


actually. It is something I have always wanted to do. I cannot


believe it is happening. I wanted to do it here because Edinburgh


audiences really take me for what I am. They do not see ethnic. They


just see not English. Which always helps! This was your first gig where


you were not heckled. Use more adverts! I have heard of a heckle.


There was a book event above a pub. I think the writer got the most


weird heckle ever. Someone said at the back, they used to be a pool


table in here. Which is less of a heckle, more of a wistful reminder


of a happier time. Your book is littered with Churchill quotes,


which fascinates me. There is one I particularly enjoyed, which is that


success is failure after failure, with no loss of enthusiasm? That is


the Edinburgh Festival. You and I have been coming for about 20 years.


25, how dare you! I was a child when this began. At the end of the day I


called the book hopeful because of that. You need hope. A lot of people


do not like people who are too hopeful because they think they are


to head in the clouds. They say you do not fully acknowledge the pain


and suffering. You need to acknowledge the pain and suffering.


Without hope you want to commit suicide. You need hope. It was based


on my stand-up. I used to do a joke about my name. My name in Japan may


-- means hope. I think it is a very important message for all the


performers out there to remain hopeful. The Churchill stuff is


interesting not only because he is an extremely hopeful icon who led


the nation through troubled times, but also because he is


quintessentially British. There is that odd juxtaposition in your book


about how it feels to feel British and Iranian. The to -- two


coexisting. Has always been difficult for me. I did the Royal


variety performance a few years ago. It was very tough because my British


side genuinely loves the British Royal family but my Iranian side


hates me for it. I met Prince Charles. And I said to him, it was


lovely to perform for you, you dirty imperialist pig! I used to do jokes


about this. Spare a thought for my cousin in America who is half


American, have Iranian, he spends most of his waking hours trying to


invade himself. I feel it is very important to see a Middle Eastern


person who is very British. The first show I ever did was called


short fat kid Barb on's son. Inside me there is a tall thin high


cheekbones ponds screaming to get out. I think it is a very important


journey for people to see. Edinburgh, you have rehearsed a lot


of these... I love the descriptions of your family. The way that you


were brought up. It was not like anything I have ever read. It was


like an Iranian hospital full of men in pyjamas weeping. Which is rare!


Whenever you come out of the toilet you literally have to step over men


in pyjamas. It was a guest house, basically. We had Iranians coming


over. My father and mother were multitaskers. My mother was a


nurse. My father was a translator and an entertainer. It was the first


time I saw stand-up comedy because they believed humour would help


people to heal better. There is a joke in Iranian where the world --


the word exit is the same word for testicles. We would often joke,


would you like your eggs scrambled, poached or fondled! Does that


account for why there was a riot when they showed the Great British


Bake Off to! From that of bringing, you hit Hollywood. This is you in


the film the mummy. One of the peaks of Hollywood fame.


You telling me this filthy godless son of a pig knows where to find the


city of the dead? Yes. And if you cut him down he will give you...


10%. 50%. 40. 25. Deal. All stars of the screen and yet you


come back to Edinburgh. Presumably you have too much money and you want


to lose all of it. Why do you come back? There is no financial reason


to come here. Is it the love of the city and the love of the work that


brings you back? The love of the city and them. It is that audience


that we love. APPLAUSE. Specifically Middle


Scotland and Middle England and comfortable shoes and light rain


were. Well, Omid's memoir Hopeful,


is published on August 28. Thanks to all my guests -


Omid Djalili, That's just about it from


Edinburgh Nights this year. But dry your eyes, there's more


comedy, music and me in Edinburgh Later, which you can see exclusively


online at bbc.co.uk/Edinburgh And you can catch up with all


of our Edinburgh Festival coverage We leave you here


on BBC Two with the heavenly voices of the Tshwane Gospel Choir who are


playing at Assembly till Monday.


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