"I take more risks now with my stand-up, I don't have any fear."
Marlon Davis has spent almost 15 years performing on the UK stand-up circuit and now he's returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his first show in 5 years, Emotional Black Male.
Part of the reason Marlon has been absent for so long is because a few years ago he was involved in a serious car accident. After his car hit a tree he was left in a coma for 12 days and in hospital for seven weeks. But now he's back and I caught up with Marlon ahead of his highly-anticipated Fringe return.
You're returning to the Fringe after 5 years, why did 2019 feel like the right year to return?
I haven't been up for a while because I guess I've been finding myself and this is the best time to return because I've actually been through something. And out of that traumatic experience I've had to find myself. And where better to showcase that than Edinburgh?
When did you start getting the wheels in motion for your return?
I wanted to come up last year, maybe even the year before, but I got told to wait until I was 100% fit, physically as well as my mind state. You probably know, but Edinburgh is really gruelling and actually the best thing I did was to listen to that advice. But I'm definitely ready now.
How much of what happened is referenced in the show?
Oh yeah, you have to. They say time plus tragedy equals comedy so hoefully that's the case. I also talk about other things that have happened since the accident which was about three years ago.
It's a nice mix and actually a show that I'm very excited about.
Are you looking forward to being back?
Yeah definitely. Sometimes when you go up to Edinburgh it's like you've been dragged up there by your handlers and it's something that you're expected to do. But this time, it's all on my accord.
This year's show definitely feels like it's in my hands. The title, Emotional Black Male, I've had for a long time. The show is something I've written and am excited about performing.
What can people expect from this year's show?
It's going to be funny, that's what you want first of all. And it's going to be interesting. Will you laugh? Yes. Will you cry? Yes. All those different elements are in there. I think it's going to be the best one yet.
Do you feel like that a result of your accident, you're more wanting to embrace experiences and live your life the way you want to?
Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't want to get too... but coming back from a life-threatening and frightening experience, it does make you see the world different. The way that you approach everything you do is different.
I take more risks now with my stand-up, I don't have any fear. I feel like that's made me better. That's one good thing that happened from having this car crash. my peers as well have noticed and go to me "You're really fearless now."
How have the previews been going?
Good, I've done a few. Previews are usually a place where you're allowed to go to and fail. You also learn a lot about what's good and what's not. But I really like how it's taking shape.
I did a preview for it last year and I record them all and listen to them back, so I've compared the show I did last year to the one I did last week and I was like "Wow, what a difference."
I'm in the period at the moment where I'm going "Oh my God! Jesus Christ! What have I done? What have I committed to?"
But also, I'm confident with it, especially the narrative.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Not anymore. I used to. What I used to do was wear the same clothes, for example because a gig went really well, I'd think it was because of the shoes, not the jokes, but the shoes. But at the same time, if a gig went really bad, it couldn't be that bad, it must have been because of the shoes I was wearing so those shoes would get discarded and never be seen again.
What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?
Seeing friends actually and seeing how well you've done that year and how you've been graded I guess. It's been a while but I'm looking forward to being back, having fun, getting lost in it and seeing a lot of shows. Every time I go up there I try and see 100+ shows.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing?
Oh there's so many. Oh gosh, so many! Off the top of my head, Suzi Ruffell, she's going up there with another show and she gets better and better and I think that's because she's been up to the Fringe so much. I believe so, I've seen how much she's changed and she's definitely onto something at this moment. Something's really bubbling. So I'm looking forward to seeing her.
Paul McCaffrey as well. He's been good for so long, for years! I don't get why he hasn't broken through so I reckon this year will be his breakthrough show I think.
There so many. Sarah Keyworth... I can't pick! But it's great because I'm going to be really busy.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Electric, passionate, layered, emotive, universal.
Marlon Davis: Emotional Black Male runs from 31st July - 25th August (not 12th) at 6:50pm at the Underbelly, Bristo Square (Dexter). Book tickets here.