Adam Riches is back at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with another hour, The Inane Chicanery of a Certain Adam GC Riches.
He first made his mark on the Fringe in 2003 with his debut and has been returning ever since as a firm Fringe favourite. This year he’s back with another hour filled with characters and a new device which he hasn’t quite worked out yet but hopes to have nailed by the time August arrives.
You first performed at the Fringe in 2003. What keeps you coming back year after year?
I think first and foremost ideas do. You get an idea in your head and you want to realise it and see it fleshed out and answer that question in your head “Is it any good or not?” And you can only really answer that by just giving it a go, hammering it to death and seeing how people respond.
And then the creative satisfaction that comes with that. When you move forwards with your career and you get different opportunities in different directions for TV, that can be a very frustrating process of developing ideas that very often doesn’t lead anywhere for various reasons.
I’ve found it very psychologically useful over the last few years to have a project that will go forwards. It will happen.
What’s The Inane Chicanery of a Certain Adam GC Riches all about? And what can people expect?
It’s still in a state of flux. It’s a character hour again. I would say it’s a one man show but there are other people in it as well that pop up at various points but it’s mainly driven by myself. There is a story or a situation of sorts about this particular show which I’ve never done before with any of the character hours.
They’ve always been just a disparate bunch of men and women thrown together in different sketches and they’re thrown at the audience. This one there is a design of sorts surrounding it, which I can’t honestly say for two reasons.
One, is that there’s hopefully a surprise element to that which I wouldn’t necessarily want to give away at this stage. And the other reason is because my God it’s rough and it may just go right out of the window and I’d be married to this interview and anyone that might read this and go “That sounds interesting” is going to be wholly disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
How long have you been working on the show for?
Ideas begin to formulate around December/January time. It’s all very much in my head at that stage, I don’t write anything. Then I think I put pen to paper around February/March time which is round about the time that you really need to make a firm decision on whether you’re going to go or not.
Then it was just a case of taking a punt on the ideas that will just not go away. I certainly feel compelled to create something different whilst still trying to retain that thing that people have liked about you throughout the years.
How have the previews been going?
OK. It’s tricky because I very much write for the Queen Dome now. It’s the venue that I really really love to perform in. It’s really lovely, for character comedy especially. You get a nice sweep of people but actually they’re quite close and it’s got scope with lots of entrances and exits.
But obviously writing something for that, there’s no Queen Dome in London or anywhere else so you have to adapt it and when you adapt it you’re losing something about what you’re hoping it’ll be. So you don’t necessarily get a great reading on it.
The characters have been working well. The device that I’ve introduced into the show has had mixed success which is a very honest thing to say.
At what point did you decide on the title of the show, The Inane Chicanery of a Certain Adam GC Riches?
With the character hours, because you’re never quite sure what’s going to come out, you have to name it February/March time so I’ve always kept to two rules. Just have a blanket title that could mean anything that you might be able to find a tie-in at some stage, but it doesn’t rely on that.
And also have my name in it. So that hopefully anyone who watched my show in the last few years and enjoyed it know where I am.
It has begun to hone itself a little bit to the title because I guess the inane chicanery idea is that there’s lots of different strands weaving in and out of each other at pace and a nice level of zaniness and inanity.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt throughout your many years at the Fringe?
Production wise, the biggest thing is word of mouth and it’s a very hard thing to generate obviously, because it’s lightning in a bottle. But that’s always been something that I’ve noticed has helped me over the years. Being on stage and then seeing the limited resources I have in generating publicity.
I wouldn’t have those big giant posters anyway, even if I could afford them. I’ve always tried to use whatever limitations I have as a virtue of the show, so if you have a very limited lighting rig, work with that somehow. And if you have a very limited space, use that somehow and try and feed the realities of the situation for everyone in the room that they can pick up on and make it part of the show.
The focus is the show. You can have as much advertising and pre-publicity and credits and fanfare as you want but it is that hour that defines you up there for that month. Edinburgh I think, more than any other comedy festival, people are listening to where the next hot ticket is. And they don’t want to find it off a review page, they’d like to hear it from a hushed conversation or a group of people laughing.
That’s the big thing I’ve learnt, focus on the show and try and generate your own publicity via that one hour because that’s the focus point.
Then performance wise, I’ve learnt to do something that feels live, that feels free and feels like it’s in the moment. I got very bored in the early days when I used to come up to the Fringe as I was so set in my text and my show that I’d be neglecting a whole host of opportunities that were in that would make this particular show unique to that day and that audience.
In terms of a performer, I’ve learnt that the writing is really really great but if you can leap off that - which fuelled the audience interaction - that could be better than what’s on the page then always explore that. It’s not TV and it’s not radio and it’s not a film and people more and more these days are looking for a visceral experience that they can feel engaged by in a room.
Don’t fear that. Take a step towards that.
What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?
Just getting this bloody show finished! The first week is my favourite week but that second week, if you’ve got a good show and you’re happy with it and people are responding to it, it’s lovely and you’re just swimming in chocolate then.
And then it’ll be opening my mind a little bit and going to see what everyone else has been up to.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
I’ve got a couple of things that are in that frustrating world of development but I’m focusing on this for a while. It’s something I wanted to do, to have another hour and creat another live show. I’m working on another live show at the Battersea Arts Centre for Christmas as soon as I’ve finished this one, which is nice.
I just want to get those right and your career changes over the years and you’re desires and direction changes as well and I think I’m just in that phase where I would just like to rediscover that joy of getting that simple hour conquered again.
Edinburgh can spring forth some amazing things for you in your life and I’ve very much been on the receiving end of that for many years which has been a terrific thing have in my mindset of working stuff through. I know that if I just get a good hour together, the other stuff will kind of fall into place naturally.
Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?
Hopefully a great night out.