2018’s IYAF Best of Brighton Fringe Comedy Award winner returns to Brighton this month, with a new musical comedy. Journalist Harriet Trickett caught up with the award-winning Archie Henderson to talk about his new show, improvisation and creativity at Brighton Fringe.
What does it mean for you to perform at Brighton Fringe?
I was at the fringe for the first time last year, with my show NOW That’s Who I Call Archie Henderson, which was about my quest to write a smash hit single. It was a free show in the upstairs of a pub, and I was expecting to perform to two men and a dog, but I got some decent crowds in. I was also lucky enough to win the IYAF Best of Brighton Fringe Comedy Award for the show, and it was disconcertingly sunny while I was there, so my memory is tinted with a glaze of nostalgia. Excited for those fond memories to be crushed this year!
What does this show involve?
My show this time round is less character based, and more about my experience of the past year, mainly of creating loads of ridiculous musical material on my computer while I was between jobs. I’m now facing the reality of having spent a large proportion of my life asking such important philosophical questions as: “What would it sound like if Bohemian Rhapsody had been written by Arnold Schwarzenegger”. This show is me trying to deal with anxiety of being a creative waste of space. I’ve performed it at a few comedy festivals - Leicester, Glasgow and Cambridge - already this year, and I think it’s shaping up to be a laugh.
As a musical comedian what instruments are you going to play on stage?
The first version of the show a few months ago had three instruments in it – piano, guitar and saxophone - all of which I play to varying degrees of competency. It was a few things, but funny wasn’t one of them. I’ve pared it back now and play just my study Novation Mininova, mainly because it has an inbuilt vocoder (the greatest musical invention bar the Theremin) and makes me sound like a pubescent robot. Comedy!
How does it feel performing for a live audience?
I’ve performed in lots of sketch shows, and last year was my first attempt at a solo show. My attention span is not suited to anything beyond an 11 second video of a goat that sounds like a human, so the main shock was maintaining energy for a full hour. Also, when filming videos, you do something for 10 seconds and if you mess up everyone laughs awkwardly and you start again. Here if you mess up, people laugh awkwardly and then they sit very still as they witness you brain slowly collapsing under the weight of your own inadequacy. Live comedy is great though! Please keep supporting our mental trauma by feeding it with money.
Why should people come and see your show?
It’s musical comedy but it's actually good.
Are there any exclusives you can give us?
At a number of my performances recently, a variety of teenage students that I taught at a school last year have turned up and sat in the front row to psych me out. One of them brought his dad once, and we had to pause the show to reminisce about an uncomfortable conversation we’d had at parents evening. Play your cards right and you might get to see me rinsed by a preadolescent.
What’s the plan for 2019 after Brighton Fringe?
I’m off to a few more festivals after this (IYAF, Buxton, Manchester) and then taking the show up to Edinburgh Fringe as a debut hour. I’ve also been beavering away on a full comedy album which I’ll be releasing in a few months. The music is hopefully actually pleasant to listen to, and not just a bloke wailing about Tinder over four chords. My three chord song about the price of avocados is truly ground-breaking though.
Keep an eye out for Archie Henderson: Jazz Emu’s gigs and work throughout 2019 at www.jazzemu.com.
Catch Archie Henderson at The Warren: Theatre Box, Victoria Gardens on 2 May at 7pm, and 15, 16 May, 8.30pm.