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I TALK TO Tom Allen

He’s been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for over a decade now and this year sees Tom Allen return once more with a brand new hour, Absolutely.

Tom was recently seen in Mock The Week and The Crystal Maze and after performing at the Fringe he plans to take the show out on tour marking his first ever solo tour.

You made your debut at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2006, that’s over a decade ago! What keeps you coming back?

For all its pressure and sometimes stresses, it’s the best place to learn about what you’re doing I think. It’s a great place to learn about your craft, learn about different audiences, learn from different people and lots of other comedians.

I went through periods when I first started out that I was drowning in all the comparison and all the fluster of the festival. I used to feel so unworthy but you learn to have a relationship with yourself where you go “Actually, I should still keep doing this. I am good.” and if you keep going you get better and better. Like any job, it’s a whole world of knowledge that you have to acquire. The more you do it, the more you realise there is to it.

It is a fun place. The audiences are always so great. It’s lovely.

Does it get easier now to write the Edinburgh hour?

No. I wish it was getting easier. It’s the same. It’s always the same. Every year I think I’ve got nothing to say but then you do think of things to say. That never goes away.

Hopefully the difference is that you just get better at producing something that’s good.

What’s this year’s show all about?

It’s about asking “What are our lives?” “Are we happy?”. We worry about having the picture perfect wedding and I think there’s too much pressure on people, young people especially, but I think without realising it we’re put under pressure from such a young age to be adult and to be able to cope from all the pressures of online bullying and image conscious beauty.

It’s quite stressful and I think it can apply to any age group. We’re under huge pressure to have this perfect life and the show I guess is about going “How can you exist in that?” But it’s funny. It’s not about labradors or brexit, it’s about me and what I think of the world.

Why have you called the show Absolutely?

Because it doesn’t have any link to anything! I called it that because it sounded positive and the sort of thing I’d say. The main thing I’ve learnt over the years is that people just want to have a good time. The just want to have fun and I thought that was quite a nice positive word.

How long have you been working on this show for?

My whole life! But also about seven months I think. I have some thoughts and I maybe jot some ideas down that I’m excited about and then I’ll go on stage and talk about them.

How have the previews been going?

Great thank you! They’ve been really nice. The bits have been working that I wanted to work. The newer ideas and the new challenges I’d set myself for the show seem to be paying off. People seem to like it so I’m really looking forward to the festival.

All you can do is just do your thing. But I love being busy.

Do you have anyone helping you with your show?

I’m really lucky. I have friends around me who very kindly will sit with me and work through things with me and watch things and give me feedback. I just need validation from people. People going “Yes! That was good. You should do more of that."

I don’t think I have a very good relationship with myself so I think I’d go quite mad if I were to do it on my own. Some people are good on their own, they have happy lives, stable relationships but I’m not one of those people.

What are you most looking forward to about the Fringe this year?

Seeing other people and other people’s shows I suppose. I like a celebratory social. Last year I had a really happy time at the Fringe, I really enjoyed it. I think it showed more about who I was and I loved having two shows a night. I look forward to doing that again this year and we’ve already put in some extra shows which is lovely.

After so many years, how important is the Fringe to you still?

It’s still very important because it’s the only time that you get to run a show again and again and again. You don’t have a chance to wallow in it or forget it. Every single night there’s something to be worked on. You can never relax.

Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?

Last week I was on The Crystal Maze and I did my first Mock The Week. I’ve just recorded Stand Up Central for Comedy Central with Chris Ramsey and that will be out in the Autumn. The main thing is that I’ll be taking this year’s show on tour.

Finally, how would sum up this year’s show in just five words?

Oh what a lovely time.

Tom Allen: Absolutely runs Saturday 5th August to Sunday 27th August at 8pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Cabaret Bar). Previews 2nd-4th August. No show Monday 14th August. Extra shows 11th and 12th August at 9:30pm (Cabaret Bar) and 25th and 26th August at 11pm (Pleasance Dome).


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