"You can actually be very serious in a Scandinavian accent and get a lot of humour out of it!"
After a year away from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, former WitTank member and star of BBC Three's Flat TV, Naz Osmanoglu is returning to the festival with a brand new hour of Nordic Noir character comedy.
Scandinaveland focusses on one of the stadnout characters from his previous show, Sweden’s once famous, now hapless, homicide detective, Lars Johansson. During the hour he'll revisit the case he never solved, mainly because he wants his own true-crime podcast.
I caught up with Naz to discuss more about the show, where the title came from and Lars' upcoming podcast.
Last time we spoke, you were about to perform The Naz Show in Edinburgh back in 2017 and now you're back with one of the characters from that show?
Yes that's right. The Naz Show was a lot of fun, I found a lot of the characters interesting but this show is going to mainly about one of the characters who I really liked and wanted to explore. I love murder mystery so I wanted to do my own.
I became obsessed with watching all the Scandi Noirs like The Killing, The Bridge, Bordertown, Trapped and a couple of others and I've just been watching loads and loads of them and wanted to do my own.
How long have you been working on this year's show for?
I first had the idea when I did the character a couple of years ago. That was the basis of it. I thought about elongating it and making it bigger and bigger but not necessarily as an Edinburgh show.
It actually started off as an idea for television, then quickly became a radio idea because I thought in order to get it off the ground it would be easier as a vocal thing because in order to look good it would have to be shot in Sweden. Then I thought in order to make it a bit different, because it is just a straight spoof, we'd make it into a podcast and that's actually where it is now.
It's a true crime podcast that is spoofing scandi noir. That then got commissioned by Global Radio for a 10-part series, so I started writing that, but it's not out yet... but it will be! I'm going to record parts of the Edinburgh show as bonus material. So it's all one big project really and the Edinburgh show slots into it as part of a live recording.
What can people expect from your show this year?
Lots of silly accents, references to Herring, stupid Scandinavian adverts for products that don't exist - which have been a lot of fun! There's quite a lot of faux-Scandinavian talk which is quite fun to do. I've been working on the accent as well, trying to make it relatively realistic.
It's great because you can actually be very serious in a Scandinavian accent and get a lot of humour out of it!
How did you come up with the title, Scandinaveland?
It was a joke actually! I was on stage trying to think of where I could be from that wasn't real and I just made that up and people laughed and it quite a silly name. Then I decided I quite liked it as a name and it sounds like it could be somewhere that's real. The podcast will be called that as well.
How do you find filling the Edinburgh hour?
It is a long time and I flip between having so much time to fill and not having enough time to do everything I want. It is difficult to put together. It's really about getting the story crafted correctly and once that's in place you just build everything around it.
At the moment I'm happy with it but it just needs a few more outings to figure out exactly how to tell the story.
How have the previews been going?
They're always interesting because sometimes they're brilliant and sometimes they're not brilliant. Either way, you learn so much. I think for me, it's interesting doing previews because you can really experiment by doing really weird stuff that you might not ever do again. That is the fun part of previewing.
There was a lot of audience participation in your last show, will that be the same this year?
There will be a little bit. Not a huge amount but I like talking to the audience and to be honest any show I'm going to ever do I'll have a word with them. This show is a lot more narrative based than the last one because of the premise, it's telling a story to an audience who are not necessarily participating because it's auditory and podcasty.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Panic! I used to do a breathing thing when I was in a sketch group. We'd do warm-up exercises which are actually very helpful, but doing it by yourself is too mad. You've got to have people there to justify it, so no I don't have any pre-show rituals.
I usually just go through the opening bit so that I know what I'm going to say. Sometimes I peek through if I can and look at the front row and determine who I might have a chat to by analysing their body language. But usually I just do a little dance to get my blood pumping because I always have music blaring before I go on stage.
So to conclude, a mixture of panicking, spying on people and dancing in a dark alcove behind a stage!
What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh this year?
Doing the show for one. I'm quite excited about doing a show that's a bit different. I'm excited about getting in the space and doing it there so that I know exactly how it's going to work.
I love going to Edinburgh. It's such a fun place to go and watch loads and loads of shows. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of shows and not drinking all nights!
I'm also living with a couple of mates that I'm writing stuff with - one of them is Kieran Boyd who I've worked with for many years in WitTank.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Cold. Swedish. Bloody. Funny. Scandi.
Naz Osmanoglu: Scandinaveland runs from 1st - 25th August (not 12th and 17th) at 4.50pm at Just the Tonic at The Caves (Just the Fancy Room). Book tickets here.