Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Ian Smith: Crushing

By | Published on Friday 19 January 2024

Here at TW Towers we have a lot of love for comedian Ian Smith, a favourite with our review team going back more years than any of us would like to think about, and a recipient of one of our ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards. 

If you haven’t seen him doing one of his excellent stand-up shows, you might have seen or heard him elsewhere, thanks to his various appearances on TV and radio. 

He’s currently touring his latest critically acclaimed set ‘Crushing’. I spoke to him to find out more about that – and other things. 

CM: Can you tell us a bit about ‘Crushing’? What sort of topics do you cover in it?
IS: It’s a show about stress, love and driving a tank over a car with your hairdresser in Slovakia. Three timeless themes that everyone can relate to.

CM: What inspired you to have stress as a theme? Does it not get a bit stressful talking about stress?
IS: It’s quite relaxing to talk about what stresses you out and have people relate to it – it does make you feel less alone in your own madness. I didn’t realise so many people grind their teeth until I started shouted about it on stage.

CM: Don’t suppose you have any advice for fellow stress sufferers?
IS: I’m probably not the best person to ask because I’ve done various things – sensory deprivation, floatation tank, actual tank over a car – and I’m still stressed. I think it’s best to use this show as a lesson in how not to approach things. Let me be stressed so you don’t have to!

CM: We’ve been seeing and loving your shows at edfringe for quite a long time now – a decade, maybe?! Do you still love the Fringe? Do you have any Fringe anecdotes you could regale us with?
IS: Thank you! I really love the Fringe. I think I’ll just be doing a work in progress this year and I’ll be sad to not be up for the month, but it’s also nice to have a break and live a life so you can tell people about what you’ve done. But yeah, a decade. I feel very old.

I’m usually too in the zone of the Fringe to accumulate anecdotes, I usually do my gig, go to a steam room, do some more gigs, on a constant loop. One year though, I had drinks with the former England number one goalkeeper Paul Robinson and I was so drunk I could barely talk on stage – and I think at one point he offered to buy someone’s umbrella off them for £40.

CM: How does touring compare to performing at the Festival?
IS: This is my first tour – so who knows! I really loved the first part of my Soho Theatre run in October. It’s exciting for the show to have a life post-Fringe because I usually have to start writing the next one straight away. It will be nice to see the show evolve and grow a bit longer.

CM: How does this show compare to your previous shows? Which of all of your shows do you like the most?
IS: This is my favourite show – it’s the first show I’ve done where there isn’t a projector or some kind of theatrical gimmick. It’s pure stand-up, really energetic and I feel like I’m re-introducing myself to people with a more personal show.

CM: I listen to Radio 4 comedy all the time and have been pleased to hear your voice on lots of different occasions in recent times. How does working on those kinds of shows compare to doing stand-up? Do you have plans for more R4 stuff?
IS: Yeah, I’ve got to do the ‘News Quiz’ a lot over the last few years, which I love. I started in the writers room there and have listened to the show for ages.

It really keeps you on your toes because you have to write very quickly on a variety of topics that you may know nothing about. It’s made me a better writer – if you can write two pages of jokes about an alpaca being killed, you can probably write two pages about your own actual life.

I’ve got some exciting Radio 4 stuff coming up this year. I think I’ve been telling people when I shouldn’t have done, so I’ll just say that you’ll be able to hear me being stressed on the radio a lot this year.

CM: In the past you did some telly acting. Is that something you would like to do more of?
IS: It’s a completely valid, yet bleak, use of the word ‘past’ here, haha! I really love acting and would love to do more.

The big part I had was playing Ham – the person, not the meat – in a BBC adaptation of ‘Noah’s Ark’. That was a while ago though.

I’m up for a second series. ‘Noah’s Ark 2: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Ark’.

CM: What aims and hopes do you have for the future? Is there any grand ambition waiting to be fulfilled?
IS: My two big comedy dreams would be to do ‘Live At The Apollo’ and to make a sitcom of my own.

CM: What’s coming up soon? What projects do you have in the pipeline?
IS: I’m working on this Radio 4 thing, that and working on some scripts – and starting to write the beginnings of a new show. I’ll probably pitch my idea for ‘Noahs Ark 2’ as well now I’ve got that in my head.

Ian Smith performs ‘Crushing’ at Soho Theatre from 29-31 Jan. More details here.

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