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I TALK TO Jake Yapp

After seven years away, Jake Yapp returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a brand new show, One In A Million.

Jake's new show promises stand-up, sketches and of course some of his inimitable two-minute show summaries as seen on Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe as he looks at what makes us unique. Or not unique.

What came first? The show or the title?

I’m glad you asked me that. Kind of the show’s title. You know how these things are, you have to commit to a title round about 2011 to get it in for 2016, so I had this vague idea of what the show was going to be about.

It wasn’t even a joke, it was just an observation - if you’re one in a million, that just means you’re identical to about 60 people in the country. Completely identical. And about 7,000 people worldwide.

I then started to explore this thing and realised that I’d been wildly optimistic in my reckoning because there are really only about eight different types of people in the world. Smarmy city boy types, depressed housewives... eight types of people.

Then I realised that even saying eight people was ridiculously optimistic because there’s four. There are four kind of people in the world, and this isn’t my theory, this is a marketing philosophy. There’s the amiable, the analytical, the drive and the expressive, and that’s it!

Then I started thinking that this is a work of genius. How is it that massive companies mass produce goods, sell them to millions of people, all predicated on the idea that you should have this product because you’re unique. When the product isn’t unique, and neither is the person buying it!

So I started exploring that and we’re all desperately trying to prove how unique we are, but we should really just let it go and maybe the world will be a better place. So that was what sort of evolve from the title.

You’ve been away from Edinburgh for 7 years. Why the long break?

I think Edinburgh is like going camping. It takes you about a year to forget what a retching experience it is. (Laughs) I know what’ll be fun!

So yeah, it took me seven years to forget the last one. That’s how bad it was. But no, I’m sort of ready really. I felt like I had something to say again. Previously, shows in Edinburgh which I did were nice little shows, but they were very much all singing all dancing. I sang songs, I did mimes and banged a tray over my head.

I wanted to try and do a show that was purer kind of stand-up. I mean there are still going to be little sketches, characters and what have you in there but it’s basically just me and a microphone.

How long has the show taken to put together?

That’s a good question. Probably about eight months. The best bits are always the bits that you suddenly write in half an hour and suddenly you have ten minutes of material. Those are always the best routines.

Then of course there are the other bits where you are actually trying to make a point, which take longer.

How have the previews been going?

It’s gone really well. I mean it’s one of those funny things really, I did a few initially and they were really great. I’ve also performed in Shoreditch to an audience of two... I’ve performed to smaller audiences!

You still learn from it, no matter how many gigs you do, or how big or small the audience is. You always take something away from it.

But they’ve been really good and I finally feel like I’ve got a show that works, that’s in good shape and all I’ve got to do now is remember the damn thing. By the time I get to Edinburgh I’ll know what the show is, so I feel confident about the show.

This year I’m going up with my family, I’ve got a two-year-old boy now so it’s actually going to be a very different experience. Previously I’ve always rented a little flat in central Edinburgh, and I feel kind of claustrophobic by the end of it because you feel like you can’t escape the festival.

But this time I’m going to be staying outside of Edinburgh in a caravan, but it’s going to be really jolly. It’s going to be more of a holiday really, and I’ll commute into Edinburgh every day, do my show and then leave it all behind at the end of the day which I think might help to preserve my sanity a little more.

Are you planning on watching any shows when you’re up there?

I will look at some other shows, I mean there’s obviously tons of stuff for kids, there’s a guy who calls himself The Amazing Bubble Man. We’re definitely going to go and see that.

I’ll be very interested to see Sooz Kempner, I’d like to see her show. I’m a big fan of John Gordillo and erm... yeah. I mean what are you supposed to do? There are about 3,500 of them! How could anybody choose? It’s ridiculous.

I always think it must be more stressful being an audience member in Edinburgh than a performer. Because as a performer you know you have to be on a certain stage at a certain time and do a show. As an audience member, how do you choose?! It’s like going to Hamley’s when you were a kid on a day trip to London and your parents would say, you can buy one thing.

Then there’s the awful thing if you pick the wrong show. You have to decide whether to sneak out or sit here with a grin on our faces and force laugh, or at least cough in the right places? I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through it.

You’re known for parodying TV shows. Is there any of that in One In A Million?

Yeah, well I open the show by trying to do the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe in four minutes, which has gone down very well so far, and I’m not in Edinburgh. It’s quite funny, it’s quite harmless. I think the point is that I’m part of that even diagram so I’m punching myself in the face really.

I also do every Adam Curtis documentary you’ve ever seen, which is not as mass market as it could be really. With Adam Curtis, everything always starts with a book, or a film, or a play, from the fifties that you’ve never heard of, but he has. Once you’ve got that hook or that angle, it then sort of writes itself.

Any plans to work with Charlie Brooker again? And what else are you up to outside of the Fringe?

I don’t know. He’s very busy, like properly busy. He’s busy on an international level now, so I don’t know what the future is of Weekly Wipe.

I’m still doing a radio show on Talk Radio every Sunday morning from 8 o’clock, I’m doing a pilot for Radio 4 which we’re recording in September as soon as I get back from Edinburgh. Which obviously, I’m just doing for the money. It’s just so much money. It’s incredible! (Laughs)

And finally, how would you sum up the show in just five word?

Happy. Angry. Needy. Sneezy. Bashful.

Jake Yapp is One In A Million will be on at the Underbelly, George Square from Wednesday 3rd August – Sunday 28th August at 6:50pm.


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