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Howay The Stand: Gavin Webster on How Newcastle United Ruined His Bloody Life

Gavin Webster

It's impressive how omnipresent a figure Gavin Webster has become in North East comedy over the last few decades, given the trauma he's had to endure throughout.

Yes, Webster is a Newcastle United fan, and at this year's Edinburgh Fringe he's exorcising those demons every evening at The Stand, with the self-explanatory Newcastle United Ruined My Bloody Life. It may sound a bit niche, but as he explains below, that hour is really an affectionate look at growing up in the 1970s, with hairy-faced footballers thrown in. And some singing. Thoroughly enjoyable it is too.

Webster is also doing a greatest hits show at the Fringe, and has a new book out, Buddhism and Other Such Rubbish, based on his 2019 Edinburgh show. Rest assured, it's about unenlightened people who say such things, rather than him having a pop.

He definitely has a good mither about The Magpies though, in the '70s and beyond. Let's find out why.

How would you describe this show, Gavin? And what made you decide to do it?

I'd describe the show as a coming of age story, to a point. The moment I became obsessed with something as a kid, something that had never really struck me before; not just the round ball game itself but all the naff but now iconic '70s culture that goes with it, both good and bad, and a backdrop of the turbulent times that we lived in back then.

I wanted to do it because pretty much all my shows before didn't really tell my story, they were just a collection of routines and jokes, and in some cases a complete bullshit story arc, so as to do outlandish surreal routines.

It's about supporting Newcastle United in the 1970s - were you worried that it might be a bit niche?

I was a bit concerned, yes, but I thought that as soon as people realised that it's about a period in history that they grew up in as well, and perhaps shared some of the things I did, then I felt sure they could empathise with me, and enjoy some of the references and it takes them back a bit.

Gavin Webster

How's the run been so far? And have you been getting fans of other clubs in?

It's going great thanks, it might be my best year yet for business. And yes, lots of fans of other clubs are coming too. I'd say probably outside of NUFC fans I'm getting Hibs fans the most.

On Sunday your show clashed with Newcastle vs Man City - how did that go?

One of the most bizarre gigs I've done. Lots of Newcastle fans came and were checking the score and letting me know during the gig. I didn't blame them for doing it. I'd have done the same. Trouble is with a 3-3 classic I did get interrupted a few times!

You're also doing a greatest hits show - same routines each night, or mixing it up? Was it hard to pick them?

It wasn't too hard to pick them really, mind you some older routines have seen the light of day because I was determined to do as much different stuff as I could. There's been a few people that have come more than once and I wanted to give them a different show [each time].

Buddhism and Other Such Rubbish. Gavin Webster

You've a book out too, Buddhism and Other Such Rubbish. Intriguing title, what's the story there?

It was my Edinburgh show in 2019, the last one I did, due obviously to lockdown. When we were shut down I thought that I'd write a book; as a show I thought it didn't really do itself justice because I rushed it out due to a big workload that year. I wanted to show people what the show was really about, so I did it in book form.

Basically the book is about people I've met throughout school, work, college and then in my comedy career that talk at great length about stuff they know very little about. 'Braggarts and modern day arse-talkers' is on the strap line. I really enjoyed the writing process and at first I was happy for it to be a mini book, then I went for it. 60,000 words in 255 pages.

Will I ever do a book again? Maybe. I enjoyed the writing so much but you have to really put a shift in to get it done!

Are you at all worried that you'll get angry buddhists/Sunderland fans turning up at The Stand?

One or two Sunderland fans have turned up to the show but they're the nice ones, if they're at the Fringe watching comedy. I've never really had a problem with the Sunderland supporters I know.

As for buddhists, they came in small numbers to the 2019 show but they were always relieved or in some cases disappointed when they realised that it wasn't really about them. 'Buddhism and other such rubbish' was a phrase that a typically uninformed person would say about buddhism, after reading or researching practically nothing about it.

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