He's been wowing audiences in America thanks to his current appearance on America's Got Talent but forensic mind reader Colin Cloud is returning to home soil for a whole month at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
This side of the Atlantic, Colin Cloud is best known perhaps for threatening to reveal Holly Willoughby’s darkest secret during an appearance on This Morning. And back in 2015 during another appearance on the show, Holly begged Colin to "Please do me. Can you just stay and do me." in a clip which has since gone viral.
But now Colin Cloud is back with his new Edinburgh hour as he awaits news of how far he gets in America's Got Talent.
I recently caught up with Colin to talk about his decision to enter AGT, the wariness audiences have to attend magic shows and of course his new show Dare.
You’re back at the Fringe this year. What keeps you coming back?
I love the challenge of writing a brand new show every single year and coming back with something totally different, bigger, better. I love creating it as well, so not just performing it but writing it and developing it. So for me it’s the perfect combination of my fascination with this weird and wonderful nonsense that I’m in to.
You’re currently on America’s Got Talent after auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent a few years ago. How did that come about?
I got four yes’ on Britain’s Got Talent but timing wise it didn’t work out. If you go back and watch it after the first one you just never see me again. You don’t even see me get a no or anything. I just couldn’t do it. So I suppose I always kind of regretted that that didn’t quite happen but then I was sort of over those type of shows.
I think in the UK Britain’s Got Talent has gone from being a show where people took the piss out of the acts to becoming a respectable format to showcase decent talent. I remember seeing The Boy with Tape on his Face, who’s a good friend of mine, on America’s Got Talent last year and I was a bit shocked. But then I thought, if someone like him is doing it then this show has now turned around because he’s someone who’s so picky about what he does.
So I realised that if something’s good, they’ll point out that it’s good and if something’s bad they’ll point out that it’s bad, but it’s a more constructive show in that they don’t tell people they’re terrible for the sake of it. It showcases actual live acts, unedited for the most part. When you get to the live shows you get to do an actual performance piece and for me if I’m going to do TV now, that’s the stuff that I love most. Being on stage doing what I do live.
On reflection, it was the perfect platform to go back on TV and it helped raise my profile in America. I’m now relatively well known in the UK that I can sell shows here but because I’m in America for nine months of the year I wanted to do something that raised my profile there.
I’m delighted with how it’s been going.
Why have you called your show Dare this year? What can people expect from the show?
It explores the idea of why we make choices and why we choose certain things and the psychology of cults. Calling the show Dare it just summed up for me all the stuff around the way we make decisions, why we’re all for example, in that show that night. What brought us there. If one minute detail would have changed, we wouldn’t be there.
It’s all done through the more entertaining stuff that I’m known for; revealing secrets, literally gambling substantial amounts of money putting my life on the line, putting other people’s lives on the line without them realising that’s what they’re doing at the time. Essentially I want people to leave with lots of questions about themselves on the way out.
If they want to try and answer them for themselves, they can. Or if they just want to be entertained, they will be.
How long have you been working on this year’s show?
As soon as I get up and running in August at the festival, I start writing the next show. I love being amongst that buzz and that excitement and for me that’s the most creative time, thinking what should my show have been this year to make it the best?
I start thinking like that whilst I’m there and I bullet point everything. I leave the first week to get my show up and running but them week two I’m thinking about what I want to do next. What can be better than this? What can be bigger than this? What can be more controversial? More meaningful?
And that point I start planning ahead so it gives me a full year of working out story, reading about certain psychology that I need to know about, trying bits and pieces whilst I’m on tour - essentially in my head at the moment I have all these jigsaw pieces and because of the type of show that I do, I can’t really put it all together until opening night.
Who are you hoping your audience will be?
The truth is that the demographic is so diverse. Last year I was revealing dreams that people had had recently and this was on the closing night, my parents had come to see the show, and I’ll never forget that the final dream I was revealing of an audience member was from this woman who was mid-seventies and her dream was that the night before she was having sex with me on that stage!
But then you’ve also got kids in the room, so I’m quite delicate in how I reveal things, but it’s pitched as a 12A/PG type show so obviously some of the stuff that comes out is a little bit more adult.
It’s more on the cerebral side of things, it’s not ideal for the younger kids but I think anyone 10 or up will be able to appreciate why it’s amazing and how impossible it is and as a result get the most out of it.
Some people are quite wary about going to see magic shows, not wanting to reveal too much about themselves. What do you make of that?
I think it’s more than that. I think it’s more that people are wary because they think that audience members are going to be embarrassed and ridiculed. There was certainly a time in the eighties and nineties where that was the case and they’d ridicule audience members for the sake of it, for low hanging fruit laughs.
Whereas I think now if you go to a magic show, the good magicians treat you with respect and they make you as much a part of the show as they are.
Certainly with what I do, because my stuff is all the weird Sherlock, mind-reading stuff, it’s all about people so I don’t want to stand there and make people look bad because I want them to come back. My job is to make those people the stars of the show and make them feel good about being involved and being included.
I don't want people to be embarrassed because first of all what I'm trying to do won't work and secondly I look like an asshole for doing that to them. So I want people who I know are going to work well and do what I need them to do so that it's as entertaining and as memorable as possible.
What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?
I am personally most looking forward to, after being on the road for nine months of the year, I get to sleep in my own bed every single night after I do a show.
I love Edinburgh and having grown up there I've always gone to the Fringe and been aware so the fact that it's literally on my doorstep is obviously a luxury.
Edinburgh changes in August. It's an amazing city but in August it's a different beast.
Outside of the Fringe, when will we next see you on America's Got Talent?
In America it's a longer show. Here there are only three rounds and in America there are five rounds so the next round is what we call 'Judge Cuts' which is before we go live on TV.
So on the 25th July you get to watch my next audition and you get to find out whether or not I am through to the live shows back in LA.
Finally, how will you sum up your show in just five words?
I dare you to come.