'I have forever changed an obscure part of Italian comedy' | Ed Aczel shares his Unforgettable 5 gigs

'I have forever changed an obscure part of Italian comedy'

Ed Aczel shares his Unforgettable 5 gigs

Ed Aczel has shot a film with fellow comedian Joz Norris in which they play a ‘low-rent Ocean’s Eleven’ trying to steel a vending machine. Ahead of its premiere at London’s Bill Murray comedy pub later this month, Aczel shares some of his most memorable gigs.

Gig(s) that changed my life

Occasionally a moment in life does change the course of your life. For me it was three gigs – without which I might never have carried on.

It was right at the beginning of my career and I entered the BBC New Comedy Awards.

On the night of the first round I told myself this would probably be my last gig; that stand-up was nothing more than a white elephant. Somehow, I got through.

The semi-final was a slightly bigger affair – my act at that point was a combination of anxiety and making it up on the spot. I got through that one too (even though I beat people who were much better than me). There clearly was a place in the industry for winging it.

Then came the final and somehow the magic worked again and I stormed the gig. In the end I came runner-up of the whole competition.

Which considering my lack of experience was insane? To this day I don’t really understand how I did it. But the fact that it happened changed everything for me.

Strangest audience member

My aunt Ann was my most treasured audience member, because every year she would come to my Edinburgh show and fall asleep at the back.

Someone once pointed it out during a gig, I told them not to disturb her.

We’d have dinner afterwards. One year I was doing a ‘what is the meaning of life?" type show – which didn’t come to any conclusions – and after the meal she told me the meaning of life is to get married (It was a relief to finally have an answer to the question – although it didn’t help as I’m not married)

Most unusual location

I once performed a gig in a swimming pool, where I was in the pool and an audience of four people watched from the poolside.

I wonder why that gig disappeared.

Most exotic gig

The best location I’ve ever performed in was a bar next to the Colosseum in Rome. In hindsight I don’t quite know why I love this experience so much.

When I get offered this type of thing, I always get very excited. The reality – although a priceless experience – is always less amazing. It was one those ideas a bar owner had that in reality didn’t quite work out.

The bar was very empty, even though the owner even got his relatives to come. But they insisted I go ahead regardless. It didn’t go well as there was a language barrier, it was an empty room and I felt awkward.

Although there is a silver lining. Someone came up to me after my show in Edinburgh this year saying they had been one of the few people at that gig and I had influenced him and his friends to become comedians. So, in my own small way, I have forever changed an obscure part of Italian comedy.

Least welcome post-show comment

I once performed a show at a Samuel Beckett festival in Coleraine in Ireland. I shared a three-hour taxi ride with Lady Antonia Fraser to get there.

The gig itself was in the back of a pub and the audience wasn’t that sure about me – in fact most of the time they just looked stunned.

Bizarrely I got through the whole gig.

I always bring a script on stage – it’s part of my act. Anyway, as the audience were leaving one lady came up to me and said: ‘You could have learnt it.’ My shame was complete.

Ed Aczel and Joz Norris's Heist Movie is getting its premiere at the Bill Murray in Islington, North London, at 6.45pm on September 25. Tickets. Here's a trailer:

Published: 13 Sep 2019

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