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I TALK TO Dan Soder

"Poor people tend to be the funniest people in the world which is for a reason, it's a self defence mechanism.


New York-based comedian Dan Soder is a familiar face on TV in the US and the UK thanks to playing Mafee in Billions and now he's making his UK debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Son of a Gary.


I caught up with Dan to talk about how he first got into comedy, his thoughts on the Fringe and the meaning behind the show's title.


How did you first get into comedy?


It's something that I always wanted to do. I've been a fan since I was a little kid and always thought it was the coolest thing in the world. But honestly, I didn't have the balls for it. There was no way. I didn't think I'd be funny enough to do comedy but the I went to one open mic in Tucson, Arizona and I was like - "I think I can do this."


I then did the usual thing of bombing at open mics for six months and then finally began catching my groove. I moved to New York in 2007 and hit the ground running and worked every night trying to get better and better.


Since the documentary Comedian about Jerry Seinfeld came out, I've always wanted to be a New York comic so I figured if I moved to New York my goal would be to maintain as a comedian.


Have you ever performed in the UK before?


No and I'm very very excited to. I have a Sirius XM show which tethers me to New York but I've always really wanted to get over to the UK. I tried to do Edinburgh a couple of years ago but it ran into the same filming schedule as Billions so I had to pull out.


But this year I'm getting ready for a special and we're not starting back on Billions until November so the stars aligned and I immediately decided to do Edinburgh.


When did you first become aware of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?


Early on in comedy. It's like how you catch wind of Just for Laughs in Montreal, I'm just a straight up comedy nerd. Still to this day, I'm as big a comedy fan as I ever was. I've seen friends of mine become callous or maybe not as excited about certain things in comedy, but for me I still love learning.


I watched Hannibal Buress go and do Edinburgh and I had a couple of friends go and do it and as I started headlining in the States I thought maybe I'd do Edinburgh.


How do you feel about delivering your material in front of a largely new audience?


I'm not going to lie, I'm nervous. I hope it translates but I think I'd be an idiot if I went over there and went - "I'm going to kill it!". I'm coming to Edinburgh timid but also very excited and I really respect the festival. It's such a great festival and what's going to be weird is seeing what doesn't translate.


What can people expect from your show?


It's probably the most personal I've ever been in any of my shows and any of my stand-up. It's a look at being a son of a deadbeat dad and realising if I'm even qualified to have kids. We're over populated as a planet and I don't even have a partner.


I've had some situations in my life which are pretty dark and making fun of it the whole time has kept me afloat. It made me less bitter or angry as someone who perhaps would never have laughed at certain situations. Poor people tend to be the funniest people in the world which is for a reason, it's a self defence mechanism.


Why did you decide to call the show Son of a Gary?


There's always that term "Son of a bitch" and my mum is the most incredible person in my life. She raised me by herself and is such a strong wonderful woman and my dad was the shithead. And his name was Gary so I'm a son of a Gary, a son of a shithead.


Do you enjoy having that hour to fill?


I'm lucky to be on the road here and headline and do hours every weekend. I've been doing comedy for 15 years and I'm finally at a point now where I'm more comfortable doing hours than I am doing city spots. My engine is built a little different know where I like to go for the longer hour and play around where as in New York I usually only get 15 minutes on stage so you've got to quick.


Would you like to build a following in the UK?


That would be nice, but I hope that would just be windfall of doing the show. I've been working on this hour for the past year and Edinburgh's a real chance to shape a narrative into it and give it a whole entire through line.


Performing that many show is a workout so coming out of Edinburgh I hope to be tight and film that for a special here in the States.


What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?


I'm excited to see a lot of the shows. I'm excited to see not only a lot of my friends like Sean Patton, Liza Treyger and Emmy Blotnick but I'm also excited to catch a lot of UK acts.


Like I said, I'm still a comedy nerd so finding out about acts I maybe don't know that well and watch them multiple times is probably going to be one of my most favourite aspects of the festival. As far as Edinburgh comics go, Daniel Sloss is so damn funny. He's incredible and I'm very excited to see him.


Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?


We're waiting for the filming to start on season five of Billions in November, they're writing it now so I know that'll be fun.


I'm on Sirius XM which is a satellite radio station and I have a show Monday through Thursday from 6-8pm with Big Jay Oakerson and that right there I can't even call a job. It's the most fun I've ever had. We do whatever the hell we want, which anyone in this business will tell you, that kind of freedom is few and far between.


Stand-up is always my mainstay and what I am, a comic. So any opportunity to do anything else is a bonus.


Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?


An honest look at humour.


Dan Soder: Son of a Gary runs from 31st July - 26th August (not 12th) at 7.15pm at the Underbelly, Bristo Square (The Dairy Room). Book tickets here.

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