"I used to think of Edinburgh like war but I don't anymore."
For the last six years, Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson has been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and returns this year for his seventh consecutive, Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations which sold out its run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year.
During our chat, Rhys discusses why he keeps coming back to Edinburgh, the story behind the show's title and his US TV debut on Conan.
This is your seventh Edinburgh show in a row. What keeps you coming back?
It's taken me six years to build up any kind of audience so it feels like I'd really be punching myself in the face to not keep doing it. It's an important part of my year now. It used to be this daunting, fucking terrifying thing to do and now it's just a part of my year.
It's still huge and still insane and every year it works out different ways to stress me out but it's not unknown anymore. It's weird to think that I've spent six months of my life in Edinburgh which is probably more than I've spent in the town that I grew up in in the last few years.
When I first started doing Edinburgh, I was a professional comedian but I still had a job where as now this is my job and there's this weird feeling with festivals where you hang out with the same people because we're on this weird tour that no one really talks about. Even crew!
It's becoming one of my more favourite festivals to do. I used to think of Edinburgh like war but I don't anymore.
You've recently sold out at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. How does that festival compare to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
Melbourne is probably my favourite festival to do, with Edinburgh a close second, just because I've been going there since I was a kid. In Edinburgh, I'm the product of the Melbourne Comedy Festival in that I did our version of So You Think You're Funny? when I was young and have done a bunch of programmes at the festival.
They're very different in terms of size. Melbourne Comedy Festival is purely stand-up and comedy and has between 400 and 500 shows every year, which is still huge but Edinburgh has literally over 3,000 shows and not all of them are comedy and you see some bonkers shows!
They have a pretty similar tone though in that everyone's having a good time and everyone's drinking too much.
What can people expect from this year's show?
I'm sure everyone says this, but it's probably my favourite show that I've ever written. I've been having a really fun time performing this show already, I've performed it almost 70 times now and I'm not bored of it yet. Which usually at this point I am absolutely dead in the eyes so by the time I get to Edinburgh I'm doing it for the 90th time and struggling to keep it fresh.
It's me doing what I usually do which is being filthy, but the story of the show is about an email I received from a woman called Carol last year, who's from the UK. She'd seen me on television and didn't want me to be on TV so she wrote me this big long email to tell me what was wrong with me.
Part of the letter said "Why don't you talk about nice people nice things nice situations" which has become the title of this year's which I've automatically regretted every time I've done press because it's just the longest fucking title ever. Every time I have to say it, it's a lot.
In a weird way, the show is a tribute to Carol. I replied to her email with nothing but a link to my Edinburgh show so if she wants to come she knows and she's aware of the show's title. I would love her to come and write a review, to really back up all the problems she had with me.
You made your first TV appearance in America this June on Conan, what was that experience like?
It's such a different world over there. I think Australia and the UK all have pretty similar tones and we all talk quite quickly but over there in the States, in LA at least, I had to spend a week learning to slow down because I talk so quickly.
I wasn't that stressed about the TV show itself, which sounds insane, but I opened for Conan in Sydney so that took away the nerves I would have had before meeting him. I'm still nervous around him but the initial shock was gone and I'd been to a few recordings of the show to get myself used to it.
I have no memory of the actual set, I've got no idea, I watched it once and that's enough. I'm not good at watching myself. Hollywood itself is such an odd place that I didn't feel comfortable there at any time. Everything is either really mercilessly grim or shiny and fake although everyone I met who worked on the show was really nice.
We don't really have a tonight show culture in Australia, but we don't even have many chat shows either so the whole concept of it was new to me. Before I met Conan I thought, if he wanted to be, he could be a dick, because he's been very famous and very good for 30 years, and must be sick of the way people fawn over him, but he always gives you 120% and he's such a nice man. I'd struggle to be so nice to everyone if I was as successful as he is.
What are you most looking to about being back in Edinburgh?
I hate the word vibe, but something happens to Edinburgh in August that you can't really describe. As tired as you are, there's something about that festival and the bustle in the city that keeps you going. I try and see as many shows as I possibly can just because there's so much weirdness there that it's good to soak it up. I've seen some of my favourite performers by taking a punt on things.
And there are friends who I only ever get to see there. Because of that festival, one of my best friends now is Daniel Sloss. We first met in Sydney when I was 18 but we became great friends after spending a month with him in Edinburgh hanging out.
I haven't been to Edinburgh outside of festival time but apparently Christmas is amazing and Hogmanay is meant to be brilliant. I kind of want to do that one year. The city already looks magical, so if you put a bit of snow on it it will look stunning.
Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?
Tickets are still available. Come.
Rhys Nicholson: Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations runs from 1st - 25th August at 8.40pm at the Underbelly, Bristo Square (Friesian). Book tickets here.