Welcome to this years dose of all things Edinburgh Fringe! Last year we delved into the world of all genres of comedy performing at Fringe however this year we are going to take it back to basics. This year we are going to take a look at some of the best stand up shows happening at the Edinburgh Fringe and what ones you should spend your good money on to get a loads of laughter in your time there. We sat down with Heather Urquhart of award winning improvised comedy group The Maydays to talk about their Edinburgh Fringe show.
Location: Just the Tonic at The Caves (Venue 88)
Date: Aug 3-13th
Hello Heather! Tell us about The Maydays! Who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
There are 11 of us in the Maydays (John Cremer, ‘Lloydie’ James Lloyd, Rebecca MacMillan, Chris Mead, Jules Munns, Liz Peters, Jenny Rowe, Joe Samuel, Katy Schutte, Rhiannon Vivian and myself Heather Urquhart – hello!) We started in Brighton in 2004 from a weekly drop in class run by John and now we have about 7 or 8 classes running a week in Brighton and London and we perform and teach all over the UK and Europe and run 2 festivals a year.
How did you come up with the name The Maydays?
Back in 2004 we registered for our first Brighton Fringe, there wasn’t even a name then and when they asked us come up with one, John just heard ‘S.O.S, help, Mayday Mayday! going through his head. Our logo used to be a sinking ship but in 2008 we changed to a lifering. These days we really like the positive association of rescuing someone who is in trouble. It feels like saying ‘I got your back’
Tell us all about the show that you are bringing to the Edinburgh Fringe – Happily Never After?
Happily Never After is a narrative long form show that is inspired by the work of Tim Burton, The Brothers Grimm and all things Gothic. Our musical Director Joe Samuel also improvises in the style of Danny Elfman. Our shows have ranged from darkly comic to dreamlike and surreal and sometimes downright gruesome and chilling.
What are your favourite things about performing at the Fringe and why?
The Fringe is a great opportunity to have a concentrated amount of time working on a show, doing it every day, making new discoveries and learning all the things you love (and hate!) about it. Then you get to go home and take that learning back into rehearsal. I also love the general buzz and energy of the Fringe and the chance to go and see so many great shows for inspiration.
What have been the highlights of the shows you have performed previously?
I have been improvising for so long and with so many different groups that I would find it impossible to choose! I try to make every show I do count whether it’s in a weird basement to 2 people or on a West End stage to a packed house. I also admit that these days I forget the shows fairly quickly and then I’ll occasionally find myself saying or hearing sentences like ‘Hey, do you remember that time we played a pair of boots down a mine?’
What other improv groups do you find inspiring and why?
There is so much great work happening in the UK right now, I’m especially inspired by Chris Mead’s Nursery Originals project that puts on bold new improv concepts in short runs like repertory theatre. Outside the UK, I’m a big fan of La Carpe Haute from Strasbourg, Teatribu from Milan and Big Bang from Boston.
Who else are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe and Why?
I’m looking forward to taking a chance on a flyerer and having my mind blown by a show I don’t even know exists yet.
You guys hold an improv retreat, can you tell us about it and how people can get involved if they want to come to it?
We run our Retreat in September which is suitable for all levels and our Intensive in March which is for slightly more advanced levels. They are both residentials held at a huge lovely country property in Dorset. It’s been described as ‘Hogwarts for Improvisers’ Please come! It’s the best party you’ll ever go to. All the details are on the Maydays website.
The Maydays are from both Brighton and London – the London Improv scene is every increasing – is this the same for Brighton and why do you think this is?
We’ve been running classes there for 13 years and really try to encourage people to form their own groups, jam together, play together and build the community. When people say ‘yes and’ off stage as well as on, magical things happen.
If people want to do Improv in Brighton, who can they get involved?
There’s a great facebook group called ‘Hey, Brighton Improv Community, whatcha doin tonight?! (https://www.facebook.com/groups/573387249373374/) Failing that, get in touch with the Maydays and I’ll point you in the right direction.
And Finally – in three words, why should people come and see you at the Edinburgh Fringe
Death comes eventually.
To find out more about The Maydays or Heather then please visit them on Facebook (maydaysimprov) Twitter @maydays, Instagram as themaydays or their website