Who? Pope Lonergan
What? Pope’s Addiction Clinic
Where? Monkey Barrel 5 (Venue 515)
What are your feelings as you enter into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe season?
I’m buzzin’, mate. I lead quite an Anchoritic existence. If I’m not reading alone in my room I’m in a care home chatting to people with dementia. And they do things like deposit lumps of poo behind the radiator ‘to stop the temperature from breaking’. Which is great – but I’ve started to question their knowledge of thermoregulation. (To be fair, the temperature didn’t break at any point after the poo was dropped behind the radiator.) So, yeah, I’m looking forward to a month away from that.
What is the premise of your Edinburgh show this year?
I’ll be closing Bound & Gagged’s AAA showcase at Gilded Balloon alongside the wonderful Nicole Harris and Adam Riley. That’ll be my usual 20 (featuring dementia, drugs, wound-dipping and a woodlouse’s pregnancy sack). I’m also bringing the critically acclaimed Pope’s Addiction Clinic to Monkey Barrel. Pope’s Addiction Clinic is a show that’s similar to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. It’s a place where comedians and audience members can share the stuff they’re most ashamed of and initiate a process of purification through confession. I might talk about the time I swallowed cat litter soaked in morphine.
What is the biggest obstacle you face(d) while putting this show together?
Asking comedians to cut the safety net of prepared material and bring something to the room that’s an undiluted account of their personal experiences. Having said this: I also fall back on prepared material because if I’m too candid I’m scared I’ll say something where the audience is like ‘Oof. You showed your true colours there, son. We were on board with the anecdote about putting your hand in a diabetic ulcer but we cannot, WILL NOT, tolerate you undermining radiators!’
Has your attitude towards the Fringe changed at all in recent years?
I preferred it last year because I had a girlfriend.
Do you have any other Edinburgh show recommendations?
There’s too many to list but I’ll go for these two: Joz Norris is Dead. Long Live Mr. Fruit Salad. Joz has created a tulpa that allows him to vent any latent insecurities; any hang-ups or anxieties about feeling out of step with the world. As you’d expect from a show by Joz it’s silly and hilarious but the premise of disassociation provides a poignancy and psychologically depth. Similar to Edogawa Rampo’s dopplegänger fictions Joz uses the performative function of repressing his body and identity – in the character of Mr. Fruit Salad – to rid himself “of the restlessness in [his] heart”.
And Kelly Convey: Telephone Voice. Kelly and I started comedy about the same time and it’s been a joy to watch her go from strength to strength. She owns the stage with a Medway swagger and uses her unabashed coarseness to undermine the affectations of the upwardly mobile. She’s the ‘Chatham girl done good’ and she’s hilarious.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
Stewart Lee said after he returned to stand-up in 2005 he wanted to build an audience of 3000 followers who were willing to pay £10 a year to watch him perform. I’m aiming for that.
I’d also like to remain in the care home, sitting in the garden while the evening sun purples the sky, ignoring all the residents who are tangled up in SCART leads or lying on the floor having fallen out of bed. (For legal reasons I’d like to state that this is obviously a joke.)