Having made his debut last year, Elliot Steel is returning to the Fringe with his second solo hour, Near Life Experience.
I recently caught up with Elliot to find out how last year went and what audiences can expect from his show this year.
You made your debut at the Fringe last year, what was that like?
It was amazing. It’s incredible to take your first hour up to the Fringe and just be a part of that. To be part of the many thousands of flyers that are left on the street was so much fun so I’m back up this year. But because I know a bit more what I’m doing this year, I’m a bit more relaxed about it.
Did you ever think twice about returning to the Fringe this year?
I was always going to come back I think. It’s such a good place to just learn how to do stand-up. Not just about how to do the circuit, but you’re given an hour so you can actually talk about something rather than try and make someone laugh as much as you can in twenty minutes.
I’m still trying to be as funny as possible but I can also be a bit personal with it and the audience can get to know you better.
What’s this year’s show all about?
It’s about a couple of things; me being a bit of a slacker and conspiracy theorist and I don’t want to give too much away because there’s a bit of a reveal in it, but it’s about an experience I had that’s made me have to become more of an adult.
But mainly over all of that, it’s also funny. A lot of times you get people who write these incredible stories but all it needed was some jokes.
Why have you called the show Near Life Experience?
One of the things I talk about in the show is an experience I had which made me change my life and I think a lot of people get a wake up call when they have a near death experience, but mine was the opposite of that. So I decided to call it a near life experience.
I wanted to call it Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beans but the powers above me were like “Let’s not call it that.” so then I decided that Near Life Experience would be a good title.
What can people expect from the show?
It’s a bit more personal but don’t get me wrong, no one is going to leave it in tears. You’re going to get to know me a little better than you would have done in last year’s show that’s for sure.
How long have you been working on this year’s show for?
Since I got back. You kind of get back and know your stand-up so well that you go “OK, I need to think of something new” because I’m just walking on and saying things now.
How have the previews been going?
They’ve been going great. It’s been great fun. Previewing is such a great experience because you show up, you walk on and your audiences get to see you warts and all. Sometimes the best preview you can have is the one you did badly at, because it means you really have to work on it.
I don’t know anyone who just writes a show and then just goes “Right, I’m just going to do that.” To learn it and to learn how you’ve got to perform it is quite a difficult thing to do. I imagine some people can, but it’d be like going into a football game without doing any warming up or something.
I always think learning the show is the most important thing. When you know where the laughs are, when you know where the act outs are and you’re not looking at a bit of paper you can then really commit to it. And then it becomes funny.
How did you first get into comedy?
I was thrown out of college so it was either join the army or go into show business. But I’ve always wanted to do it. My dad’s a comedian so I thought I’d give it a go and things have gone better than expected and here I am doing my second hour.
Who do you look up to in the world of comedy?
It’s constantly changing. Doug Stanhope, Jim Jefferies, Bill Burr, Kevin Bridges, but then there’s people I’ve met in comedy who mentor me. I know Seann Walsh and I think he’s one of the best working stand-ups in the country so then someone like that you start to look up to.
I always think you should never try to be the people you look up to. I’ve made the mistake in the past of going “I’m going to try and do what that person does.” and then you have to think “No, I’m just going to go on and do what I do and be myself."
What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?
Doing the show of course. The first few days when you’re doing the show you can’t wait to do it because it’s so much fun.
I just love going around and doing lots of different spots up there. Also, you’re at one of the world’s biggest arts festivals with some of your mates just sat having a drink. It’s incredible. This isa month long!
People get down by it, but it’s a month. Who gives a fuck? It wouldn’t work if it was a week long.
Anyone in particular you’re looking forward to seeing whilst you’re up there?
I always find Kai Humphries puts on a good show, Daniel Sloss, Lauren Pattison is doing her debut hour and I’m looking forward to seeing that. And Tom Lucy as well, I’m really looking forward to seeing him. Oh and Gareth Waugh is down this debut hour too.
Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?
You can’t describe a show in five words.