| 20 questions: Mark Olver

20 questions: Mark Olver

How did the idea for the show come about?

It came from a film I love called Say Anything. Although I love the film I realise whenever I feel I HAVE to say anything, or something, that I tend to choose the wrong thing.

Did it change much as you worked on it?

It's probably going to change all the way through Edinburgh. I did a very structured show last year but have much more fun when I don't really know which bit of material is going to come next. And it is obviously all about my fun!

Which comedian(s) inspired you to become a stand-up?

Mark Thomas, Sean Hughes and James Dowdeswell. I saw Thomas and Hughes while at university in Leeds, and met Dowdeswell when I moved back to Bristol and he was the person who held my hand and welcomed me into the open spot circuit in Bristol.

Where and when was your first gig?

In Bristol in 1998 at an open mic night.

How did it go?

Ask Russell Howard but bear in mind that it was not quite as bad as he makes it out to be.

What's the best gig you've ever had?

Warm-up for Deal Or No Deal when they had the only (so far) £250,000 winner. I have had funnier gigs, gigs where I have nailed it, but only once have I had a gig where at the end a 24-year-old woman wins £250 000.And the worst?

Far too many to mention. Or to remember.

What's your ultimate ambition in comedy?

I know this sounds completely wanky, but my genuine ambition is to continue having fun, continue doing and seeing things I have never done or seen, and earn enough money to live a nice life and eat nice food when I want to. I want to make great programmes and do great shows, but becoming famous seems to make people a little, um, squiffy.

What's the worst thing you've ever regretted saying on stage?

Never regretted saying anything on stage. I have probably forgotten 90 per cent of the stuff I have said, so there are probably one or two things in there.

What's the worst thing a critic has ever said about you?

I think Stephen Armstrong said some things about me last year that I didn't like, I can't really remember what they were but do remember at the time thinking that they just seemed like general moans about all stand-up comedy and I didn't take it personally.

When did you first come to Edinburgh, and what did you do?

Came up in 1999 when Russell was in the final of So You Think Your Funny. We stayed in a B&B just outside of Edinburgh and I ate Russell's breakfast as well as mine. The first show I did was the Big Value in 2004.

Has the spirit and the atmosphere changed much since then?

It has changed for me, and people I know who do it every year, but I know that there are new acts that come up and feel that buzz that we felt in 1999, and every now and then when I am wandering around I still get a bit of it.

What's you favourite Edinburgh experience?

About three years ago a few of us were playing football on the Meadows in the rain and Russell ran as fast as he could a slid in to tackle me really hard but just before he made contact I span out of the way and left him in the mud. Nothing else comes close.

And your worst?

Coming up when my leg was my leg was in plaster, and trying to navigate steps, cobbles, hills and American people while on crutches.

Where are your favourite place to eat and drink in Edinburgh?

There is a stall up by the Gilded Balloon called Well Hung and Tender and they do the best burgers I have ever had.

Where do you go to escape the festival?

In the shopping centre next to Waverly station there is a KFC in the basement and there is never any indication that the festival is going on.

What's your view of comedy awards like the if.comedy?

I think awards are great, they give an extra little career bump to people who win or even get nominated, and as we work in an industry where a lot of TV producers are lazy and unimaginative, these little bumps are incredibly useful. Awards, and reviews, don't mean too much in terms of how well we are doing, peer recognition is more important, but it is always nice to have something shiny.

What one bit of advice would you give to someone visiting the festival?

Make the most of it. Make the most of the festival and the city. See as much as you can, eat as much as you can and chat to as many people as possible.

What one thing would improve the Fringe?

For performers I would be great if it was cheaper, for punters it would be great if it were cheaper.

Apart from your own, what other show would you recommend?

Daniel Kitson, but you know that, Jon Richardson and Wil Hodgson will have great shows. And the Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Scotland looks great.

  • Mark Olver:Say Something is on at the Pleasance at 21:45

    Published: 16 Aug 2007

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