INTERVIEW – Get Your Problems Solved At Online Free Fringe Fest

With the Global Pandemic leading to the comedy festivals in Edinburgh being cancelled this year, it means that comedy has had to be put on hold. The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival has decided to go online this year with a variety of free shows on a daily programme and one of those acts that is performing regularly is Steve N Allen and Erich McElroy. The duo are hosting a show called Comic Solving Problems and I wanted to hear all about it.

Comics Solving Problems

Dates: August 18th, 25th, 27th
Time: 9pm

Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!

Steve is originally from The Midlands in a place called England and Erich, who is originally from Seattle, has been in the UK for 20 years – so you can’t get rid of him. We’ve both work in topical comedy because we are obsessed with the the news, with its constant flood of bizarre and infuriating source material.  

How was the project formed?

We’re both professional standup comedians who were made non-essential five months ago when the world stopped. We’ve been doing topical, live shows together for at least eight years so it was a logical step to do them online. Especially, since that’s the only place that we could legally perform.

Tell us all about the show you are bringing to the Free Edinburgh Fringe Fest Online?

It’s our version of a low budget, lockdown American late-night show filmed on webcams from our spare rooms. It’s also interactive, people watching can send us their problems to solve live on the show.

How are you finding adjusting to the online world instead of performing on stage?

The big difference is that in the Fringe you write a show and do the same show every day. Here we get to do a brand new show every time we do it. We also get to be a bit more subtle, and intense, since you are performing with a webcam pointed right in your face.

At past shows you have used audience members to gain problems to solve – how are you doing this in the online world?

It’s actually easier to do online because people can present their problems anonymously in the various chat boxes or send them to us in advance. They don’t get quite as shy or scared. 

What has been some of the best problems you have had to solve in any of your shows?

Erich loves it every time there is a discussion about how to make a cup of tea, because as an American he knows it doesn’t matter. Steve has enjoyed all of the problems linked to wearing a mask, including how to improvise a mask that would work absolutely everywhere – unless you were on a nudist beach. 

What has been the weirdest?

Someone asked us what gift to give his wife – without telling us anything about her or what the gift was for. The answer, since the lockdown started, is always: Toilet paper. 

With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?

This could be one of the most trying times we’ve been through and having a way to laugh at the things that stress you out – to be able to mock the source of your worry – is a good way to keep some positive mental health through this tribulation. 

What is the three things you will miss the most about performing at the real Ed Fringe this year?

Losing money.Get soaked on a daily basis.Finding our flyers thrown on the ground next to a bin. 

What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?

You’ll get some much needed comic relief from two comedians who’s only outlet is this show – so we’re given it all we got. We’d like to think we are doing something unique from the other online shows that have been born from this crisis. No matter what happens shows like this could well be the future of comedy. 

If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?

When: 9pm BST every Tuesday and Thursday 
Where: Broadcast free (voluntary contribution) on YouTube
Find us: @erichmcelroy @mrstevenallen @ComicsSolvProbs

Finally why should people get involved?

The people who send us messages and interact with the show enjoy it. We’ve done some quizzes during the show and everybody loves a quiz – even if the only prize is laughter. 

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