Turn of the screw

Comedian Ivo Graham Talks Australia Travels Ahead of Nottingham Glee Club Performance

23 April 18 interview: Dave Freak

Comedian Ivo Graham has been treading the boards of the nation's comedy clubs since 2009, when he decided stand-up was more exciting than studying for a degree in languages. While he's yet to really use his 2:1 in a professional capacity, the Eton and Oxford-educated graduate nonetheless has developed a style of comedy that uses his clear love of words to clear comedic effect. His latest solo show is Educated Guess is showing on Thursday 3 May 2018, at The Glee Club, Nottingham...

You're just back from the Melbourne Comedy Festival. How was it?
I have to say, at the risk of sounding smug, it’s been absolutely brilliant.

What's the comedy scene like in Australia at the moment?
It’s not really my place to speak too much for the 'scene'. There are so many Australian and New Zealand acts who I love, and I’ve met a few more now.

Any notable incidents from your trip?
I’d say the top things I’ll remember from my trip are:

  1. The shame of oversleeping until 3pm one day in the heavily jetlagged first week of the trip, and missing several professional and social commitments in the process. The subsequent text I sent to Mark Watson, who I was meant to meet for a run round the Botanical Gardens – which we then didn’t get another chance to do before his departure – is among the longest and most self-flagellating I’ve sent in my decade and a half of text-based apologies.

  2. The excruciating pain of not seeing, and therefore running into, a horizontal pole across a central reservation on Russell Street, which gave me a thigh bruising that made walking genuinely difficult for the next couple of days. Doubly irritating as I’d spent my first few days in Melbourne chuckling derisively at a gang of young people who walk around in fluorescent green costumes telling people not to look at their phones as they cross the road.

  3. My frustration with the digitized avatar of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose repeated failure to stick umpteen simple chances anywhere near the onion bag saw my Arsenal crash out of the comedians’ FIFA tournament in the quarter finals, defeated 1-0 by Daniel Sloss’s Borussia Dortmund. Deep down, however, I know that whatever narrative I spin myself about EA Sports conditioning players not to score against their former clubs out of loyalty, the buck stops with me and my failure to ever really embrace the “finesse shot” button in all my years of lonely gaming.

  4. The unbridled joy – finally, a positive one – of a wine tour with a bunch of comics and friends in the Yarra Valley. After a day spent embracing the pretentiousness of smelling, swirling, sipping, and spitting wine, the collective mask slipped on the minibus home, as our driver cranked up the Smash Mouth and we cracked into our souvenir bags (sorry, Mum!) to produce bottles for the group to swig. While I’m loathed to make light of (a) binge drinking (b) show endangering and (c) Australian road law disrespecting, it really was an excellent time.

What are your comedic aspirations?
Though I’ve managed to scrape a couple of acting credits to my name, those have been short cameos largely thrown my way by more powerful friends, and the general industry consensus seems to be very much in tune with that of the drama teachers I encountered at school and university: that I cannot act, even when the characters I’m asked to play bear such strong resemblance to my actual self that it’s surely easier to score than miss.

There remains the ultimate back-door entry of writing a sitcom, getting it commissioned, and sneaking a clause into the contract that I have to play the main part, but, quite aside from whether this sort of thing actually does more harm than good in the long run, I’ve been trying to write sitcom scripts for the last three years and found it frustratingly difficult.

I am becoming increasingly sure that a juicy prose project – dare I say, a novel? – might be the next throw of the dice, even if such aspirations look more and more laughable in a world geared increasingly towards short-form content. In the meantime, I will continue to try and say funny things on panel shows which, while occasionally terrifying/artistically compromising/just a bit hot, are undeniably useful in making sure that my Edinburgh and tour shows aren’t attended solely by friends of my parents.

Ivo Graham’s Educated Guess is at The Glee Club, Nottingham, on Thursday 3 May 2018.

The Glee Club website

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