EDINBURGH 2019: AJ Holmes Q&A
AJ HOLMES has spent the last few years travelling the world as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon and now, ahead of bringing his heartfelt and hilarious coming of age show, YEAH, BUT NOT RIGHT NOW, to the Edinburgh Fringe, he chatted to us at BroadwayWorld.
Tell us a bit about Yeah, But Not Right Now.
Yeah, But Not Right Now stems from a desire to do something (anything) that is completely my own. As an actor, I've been on tour with big-budget commercial musical theatre shows for the last eight years. I grew up loving musicals, and I still do, but doing the same show eight times a week for years on end really changes the game. Somehow, I'm lucky enough to have done really great shows, by authors I admire, which helped for a long time. But, at a certain point, it doesn't matter if you're doing Hamilton or Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type (real) - after 1,000 shows, you're ready for something new.
This show is an hour of standup, storytelling, and original songs played on a few different instruments. As it's the first time I've done something like this, the show is still pretty fluid, and I'll be open to improvising in the moment and seeing how the thing develops over the month. In a nutshell, it's about how excellent I am at distracting myself from my own feelings. I think we all do that to a degree, and it delays our growth. So, I'm putting my extended adolescence on display for a paying audience, in the hopes that maybe I'll finally grow up. As to whether I actually will grow up, your guess is as good as mine. Probably better.
Where might we have seen you before?
You may have seen me in The Book of Mormon in some major Western city over the course of the last five and a half years. I played Elder Cunningham, the socially awkward, schlubby nerd with a heart of gold. At some point or another, I played the role in all six productions of the show, performing in London, Melbourne, Sydney, two U.S. National tours and on Broadway. You might also know me from viral theatre group Team StarKid and our series of Very Potter Musicals. I've composed a few musicals with them and show up as an actor in a couple as well.
Do you think you know what to expect from the festival?
Other than revealing my deeply-rooted ignorance of foreign affairs (as you'd expect from a true American) I honestly have no idea what to expect. I've never been to a festival like this before and Edinburgh is truly the deep end of the pool. Thank goodness I have some experienced friends who've offered to show me the way. As far as my show, I'm trying my best to release all of my expectations and dive headlong into this new journey. As for the rest of the fest, I'm expecting to see some incredible shows, have a blast, and get inspired.
What sets your show apart from other stand up in Edinburgh?
Well, for starters, I truly don't know what I'm doing. I've been performing my whole life, but always with someone else's script. Some wise character on a TV show told me that it's better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb than halfway up one you don't. So, disregarding that, this show is my attempt to jump halfway up a different ladder. It's risky and I'll probably fall, which should be fun to watch. The other thing that sets me apart is I play music on several different instruments. You'll hear some piano, some guitar, and depending what the airline lets me travel with, a Djembe, a handpan, and a Frame Drum.
What's next for you after the festival?
This could be the start of a whole new world for me. Maybe I'll love the Fringe so much that I'll bring the show back to New York and look for another festival ASAP. My whole life could start to revolve around these things. I've seen it happen to dear friends of mine, and I feel like I have the type of personality that teeters dangerously close to full-blown festival addiction. Or, maybe I'll fail and sheepishly walk back into the audition room to sing for "Barnaby" in Arknasaw Repertory Theatre's regional production of Hello Dolly. I sure hope not, but they do offer health care, so it's anybody's guess.
AJ Holmes performs 'Yeah, But Not Right Now' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, from 1st - 26th August (not 12th).Tickets and more information: