"My first show was about being mixed-race, but if I had the chance to do that show now, it would be such a different show."
Last year for his fourth solo Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, Archie Maddocks explored his deepest and darkest thoughts as he examined his very personal connection to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
This year, Archie is back with his fifth consecutive solo show and fourth hour and this time he's
tackling the struggles of being alive and during our chat he explains why he still enjoys performing at the Fringe, the impact his last show had and reveals his favourite place to relax in Edinburgh.
You've been up at the Fringe every year since 2014, can you ever see yourself taking a year off?
Well actually this year was up in the air for a while due to other commitments but all the things that were pencilled in for happening in August didn't happen so I've decided to do another fucking show! (Laughs)
Do you still enjoy it?
Do you know what? I love it. Every year I go up, I love it. I love the challenge of having to build a new hour from nothing. It's scary at around November and December when I've got nothing and wonder what I'm going to talk about for an hour.
But I do really enjoy it and some good stuff usually comes out of it so I'm hoping that's the same this year. I think Edinburgh makes you a better comedian which is the goal really.
I find Edinburgh quite freeing because all you have to do a show when you think about it, you don't have to do anything else. Edinburgh for me always feels like I'm going back to school. It's like your end of year exams, all your friends are there, you all just hang out and it's quite nice. I love the festival.
Your last show discussed the Grenfell tragedy, why do you think comedy is such a great art form to discuss social issues?
I think comedy is probably the best way to talk about heavy subjects because it's disarming. If you go into a subject too earnest or too serious, it can mean that people don't want to listen to you,.
But if you can make them laugh and think at the same time, I feel like it allows a message to get in sometimes covertly.
Were you pleased with the discussions that were had because of your show about Grenfell?
I was pleased, I wasn't pleased about having to do it. I felt like I had to. But I was pleased with how the show came out and all the money that I got from Edinburgh and the Soho Theatre run, that's all gone straight to the Grenfell charity. So I feel like I've helped in some way.
Why did you decide to call this year's show Big Dick Energy?
Oh God! I've got no fucking idea. You know how Edinburgh works, you've got to name the show in February and I just thought they'll never let me call it that, so let me do it as a joke. But no one told me to change the title so it's still there!
How long have you been working on the show for?
I started working on it in January. Every year for Edinburgh I start jotting down ideas in January and then I do a first preview at the end of January because if I don't book it in I just won't do anything until June.
I did already have some ideas trickling about in September when I'd had enough of saying Edinburgh stuff.
Do you find it easier or harder to put a show together each year?
Definitely easier because I'm not chasing the laughter as much as I once was. Which I think is part of your evolution as a comedian. You get comfortable knowing, or at least hoping, that the laughters will come.
Also, I find it easier now to talk about the bigger topics. My first show was about being mixed-race, but if I had the chance to do that show now, it would be such a different show. It would cut so much deeper, it would be smarter - and that's just because I've got more confidence in myself throwing those ideas out.
Do you enjoy having that hour to fill?
Oh yeah, I love the hour. If anything, maybe an hour is too long for a show. I think it should be about 45 minutes because that's just a lovely amount of time for people to hold attention. I feel like an hour is about the time people start looking at their watches, needing to go to the toilet, wanting another drink.
I love the hour-long format but I think for shows to be better and use word economy so much more, and to not have to stretch out ideas for longer than is necessary, I think 45-minutes would actually be better suited.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I do actually. For the last couple of years I always hook up my tech and my door people with a hot lemon, honey and ginger from The Black Medicine Coffee Co to make sure we're in a nice mood and that we're not getting sick.
Then I go and stand in the room for a couple of seconds to recalibrate and then I'll do some very minor screaming just to make sure that my voice is ready for a performance - probably after a terrible night out somewhere!
Who are you hoping will come and watch the show?
So far in all my years at Edinburgh, I tend to get quite a mixed and international crowd which I'm very grateful for, but I'm constantly surprised because the audience are never who I expect them to be.
There are so many woke liberal people who come but then I also get a lot of meninists - I think they're called - people who think I'm going to talk about men's rights and shit. So I'm like "nah this show ain't for you man".
When I think a show is going to be great because of the people in the room, I'm usually wrong. And when I think it's going to be terrible, it's usually one of the better shows.
You're back at Just the Tonic this year, happy with your venue?
dYeah man, I love Just the Tonic because they're a little bit dirty, a little bit grimey and comedy needs to be that. When it's all slick and nice, that's not stand-up anymore for me. That's a show. And that's fine, but for stand-up comedy, it does need to be a little bit ad-hoc. That's what makes sense to me.
Where do you like to relax in Edinburgh?
I love hanging out in The Black Medicine Coffee Co, I've been going there for the last five years so they know me now and give me discount which is nice.
And then after the shows I usually hang out in one of the pubs off the beaten track, just because I hate having the "How's the show going?" conversation. I just want a normal chat with someone.
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform this year?
I'm really looking forward to seeing Phoebe Robinson who did the Two Dope Queens podcast because I've never seen her do stand-up before. I'm also looking forward to seeing some of the debut hours from people, I've heard Michael Odewale's hour is great.
And I like just stumbling onto shit really. If someone flyers me and it looks like a weird show, I'll go and watch it just to either hate it or love it. I want to see something that will only happen in Edinburgh, down in a basement somewhere.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
I'm working on a lot of TV stuff at the moment because I'm a screenwriter as well and one of the things I'm working on is shooting at the end August which was one of the reasons why I was potentially going to have to miss the Fringe this year. Something else is shooting in January and then there are a few pilots floating around. You know how it is.
I'm also recording my first radio play in July, because I was the Writer in Residence at BBC Radio Drama, and hopefully that will come out in September. And I'm probably going to have to go back and forth between Edinburgh and London this Fringe because I've just been given a radio show with TalkSport. It's about football, culture and blackness and all that shit basically.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
An existential look at stupidity.
Archie Maddocks: Big Dick Energy runs from 1st - 25th August (not 12th) at 4:50pm at Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Just the Bottle Room). Book tickets here.