He took a year off from the Fringe in 2015, returned last year and this year Paul McCaffrey is wasting no time in returning with a brand new hour, Suburban Legend.
I recently caught up with him to discuss how last year’s show went, what it’s like to be part of the free Fringe and what Suburban Legend is about.
First of all, how did last year’s show go?
It was good. I really enjoyed it and it was the first time ever that I’ve come back from Edinburgh and all of the material from that show went on to become stuff that I was doing in clubs which is really good actually.
When I got back in September, my gigs from there on in were all stuff that I was doing in Edinburgh. It was definitely worthwhile. I don’t feel I got reviewed as much as I should have done, I got one review and I know they’re slightly harder to come by then they perhaps once were, but I had one which was a five-star review and I thought, perhaps if I had got a few other reviews it might have picked up a bit of traction. But anyway, I was getting decent numbers and it was the first time that I’d done the free Fringe.
What was the free Fringe experience like?
I mean you get a service when you go to a paid venue so sometimes the room was left in a bit of a mess from the previous act and it was down to you to clear the room rather than focussing on the job at hand. That would always be taken care of at a paid venue.
But it’s easier to get people in, it was a great room and I’m going back this year! I played to more people than I think I would have done at a paid venue. I’ve been quite lucky I think because I did The City Café last year and this year I’m doing The Counting House ballroom, so I think as free venues go I’ve probably done the two best one.
As an overall thing I think the free Fringe is excellent and I’m very happy to be gong back there this year.
You took a year off from the Fringe to write last year’s show, but this year you’ve gone straight back. Why was that?
It’s coming together late this year, but I feel like it’s going to be better than last year’s show. I think having two years to write a show is a bit of a false economy really, I think you can write a show in a year. I don’t think my show last year was any better having had two years to write it.
This year’s show is called Suburban Legend, why that title?
Well it’s kind of a pun on ‘Urban Legend’, i live in the suburbs in Winchester so it’s a tongue-in-cheek title really.
There’s quite a lot of stuff in there about where my life is at at the moment. I’m not as rock and roll as I maybe thought I was. I’ve ended up with a favourite supermarket. There’s quite a lot of stuff about basically how I’m a bit of a square these days. And I’m OK with that. It happens to us all.
I’m in my forties now and I went to see The Stone Roses this year, one of the many bands from my era out and about doing these heritage gigs, and people go there thinking it’s going to be amazing but what I was amazing about going to those gigs the first time around was that you were young.
So it’s a little bit about accepting where I am in my life.
What is it about the Fringe that keeps people coming back year after year?
I think that changes. Last year, the amount of material that I was then able to go and use on the circuit was the reason I went. That was the validation that what I had done was a good decision because I’ve now got lots of material. And this is my job, I do this five/six nights a week and if you keep churning out the same old stuff it gets boring pretty quickly.
It’s really important when people come and see you that they’re not seeing stuff that they’ve seen before.
How have the previews been going?
There were a couple at the beginning that were a bit tricky but the more recent ones have been pretty good. I feel confident.
Sometimes people laugh at bits that you didn’t even realise was funny.
What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?
Just doing my show really. I’m going to keep it simple this year so I’m not going to be doing any extra gigs this year and just do my show every day.
I’m really looking forward to seeing Carl Donnelly, he’s on the BlundaBus this year and i think he’s absolutely fantastic. He’s one of my absolute favourites. Yes he’s a good mate of mine but aside from that as a comedian I think he’s cruelly overlooked. I think he’s absolutely superb. For my money the should be on every television show that he does.
Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?
In the last year I’ve been supporting Sean Lock on tour, that’s been my year. He’s one of my comedy heroes so it’s been an absolute treat. I did two nights at the Hammersmith Apollo and I’d never performed there before.
Beyond this show, I don’t know. Let’s see how the show goes and see what happens really. I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been as a comic, I’m having great gigs so let's see if any opportunities come from that.
Finally, how would you sup up this year’s show in just five words?
Funny show from (a) total idiot.