Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Scott Gibson: Life After Death

By | Published on Monday 12 December 2016

Scott Gibson made quite an impact when he presented his first show at edfringe this summer, walking away with much acclaim and the Edinburgh Comedy Award newcomer gong for his debut hour, ‘Life After Death’.
Now, as a Christmas treat for you Londoners, he’ll be performing his prize-winning set at Soho Theatre over the festive period. To find out more about the show, and about Scott, I put some questions to him ahead of his London run.

CM: Tell us about ‘Life After Death’ – what’s the show about?
SG: The show is about the time I returned from a friend’s Stag weekend in Blackpool and suffered a brain haemorrhage and aneurysm, that was later removed. The show tells the story of the time I spent in hospital, from being admitted to surgery and then getting home. So yeah, nice and light, haha.

CM: And the story you tell is entirely true? No embroidery…?
SG: It’s a true story, everything I discuss in the show did happen, possibly stretched the truth on some occasions for comedy effect.

CM: What motivated you to do a comedy show about this potentially fatal and possibly traumatic incident? How easy was it to find humour in it all?
SG: I always knew from the moment I started doing open spots that If I got good enough to do a solo show, this would be the first story I would tell. I
always knew that. How easy was it to find the funny? Easy enough for me, but then I think that’s where my comedy strength is. Finding a funny side to
a serious topic. Life is funny, especially when it’s a dark or deep subject, you have to be able to laugh most in those situations.

CM: You’ve been working in comedy for a while, yet recently received a newcomer award at the Edinburgh Festival. Have you previously avoided the Fringe?
SG: I wouldn’t say I avoided the Fringe but I always knew that I didn’t want to go till I felt ready. I did try to go in 2015 but sadly The Stand wouldn’t give me a room. I also knew that I didn’t want to do the Free Fringe, so waited until I got a space. Thankfully Lindsay at the Gilded Balloon offered me a space this year. I think too many acts rush in to the Fringe. I also feel quite strongly about respecting your audience and if you are asking someone to pay money for a ticket, then you better make sure you have something worth the ticket money. So I waited till I felt ready, rather than avoiding it.

CM: Do you think the win will make a difference to your career in the long term? How did it feel to emerge from the Festival victorious?
SG: Will it make a difference? I don’t know. I don’t think it has changed me as an act or a person. So I don’t know. Maybe doors that were once closed will now open for me, but you have to have the goods to walk through that door and stay there. For me right now it’s just about getting better, keep writing and work on new shows.

It was a very strange feeling to win the Award. I still can’t fully put in to words what it felt like. People keep saying to me “You must have had a feeling you’d win” but I really didn’t. You don’t ever think you will be nominated never mind win the damn thing. When I found out I was nominated I was over the moon, I just couldn’t believe it, that would have been enough. But then when they called my name as the winner, time just stopped. I thought I was going to collapse, I didn’t know what to do. Up to that point I had had such a good month in Edinburgh, good shows, a good laugh with friends, and now this was just the Hollywood ending.

CM: The fact that so few Scottish comedians have won Edinburgh Comedy Awards makes it look like the thing is biased against them. Would you agree?
SG: Hahahah not at all, hopefully the wins this year for myself and Richard Gadd (who got the main prize) will have shown that.

We could spend all day talking about why there is a negativity from some Scottish acts towards the Fringe. But it is instilled in us that the Fringe is not for us and we won’t be considered. And we have now shown that this is rubbish.

I think it comes down to two things. 1: If anyone is coming to Edinburgh and your goal is to win an Award, don’t bother coming. It shouldn’t be about that and that should certainly not be your aim. 2: Have some respect. Respect for yourself, the festival and the audience. Is your show as good as it can be, is it worth someone paying money to see it. If the answer is yes then no matter what happens you will have a successful Fringe, because you have brought your best work. If the answer is no, then don’t go.

CM: How did you get into comedy in the first place? Was it something you always aspired to? What attracted you to this kind of career?
SG: I always wanted to do comedy from a young age, but was too scared to try. Also I had no idea how you would even start. Then when I recovered from my illness I thought I need to do this. I signed up to a course at Glasgow Met College and it went from there. I certainly didn’t start out thinking it would become a career, but I’m so glad that’s how it has worked out.

CM: Who or what influences your work?
SG: Talented people influence me a great deal. That may be other comedians or musicians or artists. When it comes to my work I’m not sure what influences me. Certainly the comedians who I admire are in there. The man who started it all The Lord himself Billy Connolly, also people like Patrice O’Neil, Tommy Tiernan, Frankie Boyle and Terry Alderton are all massive influences on me. People who have that edge to their comedy or story telling, a darkness to them, that influences me I think.

CM: What do you do when you are not performing?
SG: Anything really. Walk the dogs, spend time with my Mrs, watch films. Meet up with friends, go for dinner. I eat out a lot, I like my food, haha. I should read more, that’s something that’s on the list to start doing more of. Play Fifa, just normal stuff. Nothing too crazy.

CM: What are your aspirations for the future, and what’s coming up next?
SG: Aspirations for the future? Keep working, keep getting better as a comedian. There are some nice things happening and a few conversations, but my priority is and will always be stand up. I feel comfortable on stage now and want to keep building on what I have.

Whats coming up? Well I have the run at The Soho Theatre, obviously, and I can’t wait for that to start. I’m very excited to play Soho.

Other than that I have my second show ‘Like Father Like Son’ coming up at The Glasgow International Comedy Festival on 18 March at Saint Luke’s in Glasgow. So I’m looking forward to that, and also to taking that show to the Fringe next year as well.

Scott Gibson performs ‘Life After Death’ at Soho Theatre from 20 Dec-14 Jan. See this page here for more info.

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photo: Jo Donaldson