EDINBURGH 2019: Jim Campbell Q&A
Comedian Jim Campbell's latest show BEEF confronts his family curse. The show is a fast-paced and bold attempt to overcome overthinking, anxiety and find self-acceptance through humour. Ahead of performing it at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he chats to BroadwayWorld.
Tell us a bit about Beef.
It's about what I'd do if I had the chance to live my life over again. Lots of people daydream about something like this, but to benefit from it you'd have to be born again with all your memories, which would probably be a nightmare.
My personal life has been quite chaotic in the last few years and I found myself retreating into this daydream a lot. Now I feel like I've come through that, but I still have the daydream. I'm exploring it in detail to see what I can learn from it so that I can apply it to my life. Then hopefully I can stop doing it and learn to live in the moment. NO PRESSURE THEN. I don't know why I do this to myself.
It's also about overthinking, dealing with anxiety and what happens when dog-sitting goes awry...
And you're blaming your bad luck on the Campbell curse?
... Oh yes, and it's about being cursed. In 1697 the Campbell Clan took part in the Massacre of Glencoe, the incident that inspired The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. We were guests of the MacDonald Clan but were there under false pretenses, essentially waiting for them to swear allegiance to King William III of England. When they hadn't done so after 12 days we murdered 38 of them as they slept. It didn't go down well in Scotland, let's say - especially as they were actually in the process of swearing allegiance, but the messenger was late. Personally, I think history let this guy off lightly.
I've grown up aware that my family have a reputation for being backstabbing traitors and that our name is cursed because of things that happened hundreds of years ago. I think it's informed my tendency to overthink. All of the men in your family telling you that you're cursed will do that to a child.
What are the perks of performing in a Pay What You Want venue?
It's great because it means people feel they can take a chance on you without much risk and this leads to busy rooms, full of open-minded people. In terms of an ideal crowd that is pretty much perfect. Of course if your show is packing out then people can reserve a ticket for £5 to guarantee a seat. It's really the best of both worlds between the paid and free models. It does mean vengeful MacDonalds can sneak in undetected, but I've taken measures for that eventuality.
Who would you recommend comes to see Beef?
Overthinkers, day-dreamers, fantasists, normal-thinkers, realists, optimists, pessimists... I think the show will appeal to most people because it's really about what goes on in our heads... and we all have heads. If it sounds a bit intense, rest assured that the story is told entirely through jokes. It isn't just an hour-long cry for help. No more than any other stand up show, anyway.
With this being your fifth year, do you think you know what to expect from the festival?
I hope so: including the years before I did full shows this will be my eighth. I had a break between the third and fourth shows and thought "I'll take it easy this year, I won't drink and try to have a relaxed one." What a fool I was. I took it easy, didn't drink and tried to have a relaxed one and it was still one of the most intense things I've ever done. I'm going into this year being fine with whatever happens. There are some things I'm sure of though. Whatever else happens I'll see some inspiring show, see some weird shows, make friends and happy memories and generally have a lot of fun.
Jim Campbell: Beef is at Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 1st-25th August (not 12th). Tickets and more information: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jim-campbell-beefJim Campbell Images
Photo credit: Edward Moore