Character comic Tom Skelton’s latest show, Blind Man’s Bluff, is an energetic whistle-stop tour of the most famous visually impaired people in history, coming from a man with partial sight himself. Skelton will be performing this show at the Underbelly Med Quad throughout August.
1) What excites you most about the Edinburgh Festival?
The intensity and the proximity: so many great shows and things to see and do within such a confined space. I feel so alive at the Fringe. And at a certain point, half-dead.
2) What was your first Edinburgh show about?
My first solo venture was Foolball, the history of the greatest football club that never existed – Red Star Belgravia, a communist club founded by Karl Marx when he lived in London. It was more a silly history of Britain since about 1860 through the lens of football, in which I played all the characters and struggled to change costume. An aspect of my comedy I have retained two years on.
3) Does your comedy attract a certain type of audience?
My Mum and Dad say they like it…! Apart from that, I can’t be too accurate about demographics because I am partially sighted and can never see them too well, but each does have a theme, which attracted football-lovers to Foolball in 2015, political dystopians to the Orwellian 1984 homage 2061 in 2016, and hopefully blind people to 2017’s Blind Man’s Bluff.
4) What is the worst experience you’ve had with Edinburgh accommodation?
The worst was either the whole month sharing with five other sweaty alcohol-fuelled students, in which the thick air grew generally rancid, or perhaps the three nights when the room I was staying in for the month with two other souls squeezed in three more on the floor or in the gap between the bed and the wall (including one person’s girlfriend – now wife, somehow after that weekend’s intensely fetid stench). It was not ideal.
5) What is your most treasured memory of your comedy career so far?
I kept thinking that an audience member was laughing like Henning Wehn, and then as he was leaving my partially sighted eyes thought ‘it could be’ and I said ‘are you Henning Wehn?’ He said, ‘yes’. I said, ‘you are really, really funny’ and he replied, ‘you are funny too’! That sent me over the moon.
6) What show will you definitely be seeing at the festival this year?
Hammerhead by Joseph Morpurgo. I have loved all of his previous shows, and I think he is just very funny and good.
7) What do you hope to gain from the Edinburgh Festival this year?
A daily rush of endorphins of an audience laughing at me and my sillier jokes. That is all I want!
8) What do you imagine your last ever show will be about?
Ooh, I would hope to still be doing this for a long time. So maybe it would be a character comedy parody of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. But that might be a bit sad, so maybe I should say this year’s one, Blind Man’s Bluff, so that more people might come to see my last ever show…!