spoken word / comedy
Thu at 17:00
Fri at 19:00
Sat at 16:15
Sun at 12:00
This is a pay-what-you-will-show. There are no tickets but there will be a bucket-collection.
You can also make cash or card donations at the central box office or donate an eFringer credit if you have one available.
Robert has the chance to be on prime time TV! What could possibly go wrong? A comedy poetry show about not becoming famous.
Join performance poet Robert Garnham for his new solo show, Bouncer. When Robert is asked to perform on the UK’s biggest TV talent show, he dreams of fame and fortune and never having to leaflet in Edinburgh again! But of course, these things never go the way you want them to go . . . An hour of storytelling, poetry and comedy about fame, and hope, and dreaming.
‘Playful, warm . . Funny and always surprising’. (Write Out Loud)
‘Wise’. (Word NYC)
‘Clever and entertaining’. (Barnstaple Theatrefest)
‘There’s warmth in his whimsy, it’s sturdy not flimsy’. (Matt Harvey)
‘Witticism, wordplay and wistful romanticism’. (Dandy Darkly)
On a cold, January evening, I caught a train from Devon to London. I was looking for some sense of magic in the air, a barely-perceptible tingle as if fortune were tickling my conscience and smoothing the way to a stardust future. But the train was cold, and dinner was a chicken tikka pasty I’d bought from the convenience store next to the station.
The countryside was hidden in darkness. Beyond the reflection of my own face I could make out tiny villages, clusters of lights in the middle of nowhere, lonely cow barns lit up against the frost, and I thought, do any of these people also dream of everlasting fame?
Robert Garnham has been performing LGBT comedy poetry around the UK for ten years at various fringes and festivals, and has had three collections published by Burning Eye. He has won slams in places such as London, Edinburgh and Swindon and headlined or featured at events such as Bang Said the Gun, Raise the Bar, and Milk and in 2019 was the Hammer and Tongue featured artist for a tour of the UK. He has supported artists such as John Hegley, Arthur Smith and Paul Sinha. He has made a few short TV adverts for a certain bank, and a joke from one of his shows was listed as one of the funniest of the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe. In 2022 he appeared, albeit briefly, on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. Lately he has been writing short stories published in magazines such as Stand, Defenestration and Riggwelter, and a humorous column in the Herald Express newspaper. In 2021 he was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and shortlisted as Spoken Word Artist of the Year by the Saboteur Awards. His influences are diverse and include Ivor Cutler, Spalding Gray, Salena Godden, Bob Newhart and Laurie Anderson.
“His work is double-edged, humorous and entertaining but also profoundly connected to the human condition. Occasional love relationships give momentary instances of fulfilment. Joy and sadness alternate in a rollercoaster ride that always ends with hope – yay! In spite of cold rain and harsh winds, lukewarm tea and the banality of ordinariness, and despite boredom – a monster that drains our vitality – that lingers, life is worth living even with its unpredictable sides.”
WRITE OUT LOUD
“What I love most about Robert Garnham is that he seems naïve and childish enough to believe that poetry can be for the actual pleasure of the reader. His work is an invitation to spend time in his world, looking at things differently. He is excellent company. In short he’s an excellent poet with an inimitable voice and a nice smile. There’s warmth in his whimsy, it’s sturdy not flimsy. Where others might proffer inanity he offers humanity”.
Fame is the thing I want, it’s really really cool.
A house with a shower room and a swimming pool.
A first class ticket every time I’m on a plane.
You love me not for who I am but only for my fame.
Comedy poet Robert Garnham has been writing and rehearsing a new solo show, Bouncer. This is his sixth solo show and the first which, he admits, is purely mainstream.
"Bouncer is about the hopes and the dreams that we all have. Often we know deep down that some of these dreams might not ever come true. That’s just the way things work out’.
Bouncer is based on true events. Asked to appear on a prime time TV show - (in this case, a leading talent contest) - it tells of the artifice which lay behind the whole experience, as well as the psychological impact of having the promise of fame embarrassingly undermined.
‘I think fame and fortune have to be earned’, Robert explains, ‘Rather than delivered on the basis of artificial enhancement. I’m a comedy poet, which is not easily translatable to an impatient audience who want to be entertained immediately, right now, right this second. Not that my poems go on a bit. The joy of poetry is seeing where the poem goes. That’s pretty hard to do when they only give you about twenty seconds!’
In spite of this, Robert has had two brief flirtations with fame. In 2017 he was acclaimed by The Guardian as having one of the funniest one-liners of the Edinburgh Fringe, which led to interviews on BBC Radio Five Live and a mention on Radio 2. He has also appeared in three short TV adverts for a certain building society.
‘I thought that this would be third time lucky!’, he says. ‘Alas, it was not to be, but I did get a solo show out of it!’
Bouncer also touches on subjects such as imposter syndrome and coming from an upbringing with no cultural ambitions.
‘I grew up in the suburbs’, he explains. ‘Our school didn’t even have a drama department. But I wrote funny short stories and my teachers encouraged me. I also loved comedy from an early age, whether it was the writing of Douglas Adams, or the humour of Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld. I was a weird kid! But I didn’t start performing until I was in my late 30s, and I was in my 40s when I finally plucked up the courage to send my short stories out into the world’.
The basis of the show was a humorous essay he wrote for the poetry website, Write Out Loud.
‘I got lots of messages from people saying how much they enjoyed the essay, and that’s when I thought, ah, maybe this would be the basis for a new show? I then kind of locked myself away for the whole of September and wrote the thing! I really enjoyed the process of doing so, and learning it, and I hope that this translate to the audience’.