Interview: Seymour Mace
AD: A lot of the material you produce now – big set pieces, like your 2013 Edinburgh show – doesn’t lend itself to club sets, so how do you go about putting that together?
SM: You just have to have confidence in what you know is funny. Think of some ideas and try them out. The Stand is a good place to do that because I can try stuff out maybe on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve got my own show starting in February too so I can try stuff there that’s a bit off the wall and not your regular stand-up.
It’s just knowing what works, putting it together and doing loads of previews. I do previews anywhere; I do them in people’s houses and all sorts.
The room I tend to play in Edinburgh is a 50-capacity room. It’s rarely full – it might get full on a weekend but most days you’re getting 10-15 people, so if you play round someone’s front room it’s a much more accurate representation of what Edinburgh is like than playing in a regular comedy club in front of 200 people doing a show that is only meant for 50 people.
I love Edinburgh. It’s my favourite time of year. I love thinking of my show and working on it. It’s a love/hate thing as well. It’s obviously a pressure and you’re never 100% happy with the show you put on. Every show I do in Edinburgh I always think, ‘I could have done it better.’
AD: Do you see Edinburgh as a writing challenge then?
SM: Well, it’s not so much writing… I rarely tend to physically write stuff down. I like physical comedy, I like slapstick comedy, I like surreal comedy, so I think the structures are there but they come more naturally rather than just writing it out.
But it depends on what shows you do; I’ve done shows in the past where I’ve picked a theme, like the bible or superheroes. I’ve had problems with depression and done a couple of shows related to that. Last year’s show – Marmaduke Spatula’s Fuckin Spectacular Cabaret of Sunshine Show – was a bit more experimental and mad.
I was pleased people went with the sillier stuff [in Marmaduke Spatula]. It inspires you to be even sillier next year. It’s about not holding back, and thinking that anything can be funny. Don’t over-analyse it because then you’ll talk yourself out of doing it.
You’ve got to have confidence that you’re funny. I don’t know why I’m funny but I can get up on stage and make people laugh without doing anything particularly different to anyone else – so I must be funny. You’ve got to have confidence in that, and it’s hard to have that confidence, especially in this country because, you know, you’re supposed to be self-deprecating all the time. But I am funny and I’ve got confidence in that, and that’s the confidence you need to do comedy.
Sometimes it doesn’t work and you think, ‘Ah well, it wasn’t funny. Turns out it was just embarrassing.’ But most of the time it is funny, people love it, and you don’t need to worry about it anymore.
AD: You say you’re not self-deprecating, but in a way your whole on-stage persona is self-deprecating…
SM: I like being an idiot. Being stupid, being daft, being childish – it’s all really good. It’s all stuff you’re encouraged to curb as you get older, but why should you?
Stand-up, and being on stage in front of people, is a really good opportunity to just dick about like an idiot. You don’t get any other opportunity to do that at my age. If I was seven years old people would think it was charming, but I’m 44 – if I done it in public I’d get locked up or sectioned or something.
At least on stage I can be as mad as I want, and it’s perfectly all right for people to laugh at me. If I was doing that stuff on the street and everyone stood around laughing that would be considered out of order.