Stand up rising star Alex Kealy was a So You Think You’re Funny Finalist in his first year. Since then, he has performed on BBC Radio Four Extra as part of the BBC New Comedian Award, as well as reaching the final of the Hobgoblin Comedy Award amongst other new act competitions. Alex also runs The Comedy Grotto in King’s Cross, a fortnightly charity fundraiser comedy night.
Alex is heading to the Edinburgh Fringe to examine how politically everything is on fire and has been for two years. He recognises that it’s strange to be simultaneously bored and terrified. Maybe Trump and Brexit are distractions. Unchecked capitalism inflames humanity’s insatiability and over-analysis, stopping us from leading The Good Life.
I caught up with Alex ahead of his Fringe run to ask about his latest show, Alex Kealy: A Kealy’s Heel.
I can tell you’re a fan of a pun, Alex. What can we expect from the show this year?
The pun title is partially thanks to me, in March, a bit scared of not fully knowing what the show is yet and not wanting to take a massive leap into the dark before the Edinburgh programme deadline. Last year, I did The Art of the Keal and I was fine with that, I was fairly confident that The Art of The Deal, Donald Trump, that I’d still be talking about that in August. I do a mixture of personal and political stuff in my shows and I think last year it was clear to know what would still be relevant. I don’t think there’s much more to say about Trump and Brexit now, we’ve all felt how we’ve felt about them for a year. It’s a challenge this year trying to do political comedy about some larger things which aren’t just about big personalities.
Are you still going to be looking at Trump and Brexit this year then?
I have cemented in my mind more what I think about them now. I’ve had a political shift in the last 18 months, I was pretty left wing in my late teens and early twenties. More than I am now. I’m still left wing but there’s certain things that Trump and Brexit represent to me. They represent a rejection of commonsensical consensus that all parties have had for about 50 years since the post-war period. The challenge is to make some of that funny rather than a string of pseudo-academic words. [Laughs] Just shove a couple of punch lines at the end of that and I’ll be there.
Is there something in your show for everyone rather than only politically minded audiences?
I think so, yeah. At the moment I’m in love and committed for the first time in, basically, forever, and that’s interesting and new to me. That’s funny at the moment, audiences are enjoying my stuff on that.
Is your new girlfriend OK with you using her in the show?
She’s a comedian as well so she’d be a hypocrite if she was censoring me.
OK, so you’re doing a mixture of material that people don’t necessarily need to be scrubbed up on politics to enjoy?
If people tweet me I can send a reading list. [Laughs] I have my political points, some of the audience may agree with me or may not. Good political comedy isn’t about getting up on a soapbox. I’d rather someone I politically disagree with make a really funny and clever joke that makes me laugh. There’s nothing like a punch line where you can tell the audience aren’t with you and that you still get the laugh even if they disagree with you. I want to entertain everyone in the room. Maybe I’ll finally change some minds!
So how many Fringes have you done?
This is full hour number three. I feel like I’ve been at Edinburgh for the full month for the last 6 years. I don’t know what it’s like to get proper vitamin D in August but I’m not at Richard Herring levels yet. I’m part of the Free Fringe again this year, pay what you like afterwards which is a model I really like. £10 is a lot of money. I’m a huge fan of my own comedy but even I would say 10 quid’s a lot. I’d rather an audience come and enjoy it rather than think ‘I want my money’s worth’.
Yes, how would you quantify how much a laugh is worth, anyway? 10p every chuckle, maybe! Have you seen any difference in audiences who pay and those who don’t?
I try not to generalize an audience any more. There’ve been shows where I’ve been confident a crowd will like me and it’s been the complete opposite. You can’t predict it based on what they look like. If you see 5 shows in the day, that’s £70 already in a day just on the shows. Not everyone can afford that. I don’t want to price out younger students who may not be able to afford to pay. It’s a better time for everyone if you have a bigger audience in front of you – and that’s easier to do on the Free Fringe.
A lot of comedians lose money at the Fringe anyway.
Absolutely, it’s brewers and landlords that make all the money at the Fringe!
Well, one thing’s for sure, you’ll get your money’s worth at Alex’s free show this year! You can catch Alex’s ‘A Kealy’s Heel’ London previews on 24th & 28th July at Star of King’s, King’s Cross.
Edinburgh Venue: Cabaret Voltaire (Long Room), Laughing Horse Free Festival Dates: August 2 – 26 Duration: 1 hour Entry: Free (Donations) Twitter: @alexkealy