2022 Edinburgh Fringe

What's it like dating another comedian? We talk to Alex Farrow and Chelsea Birkby

Image shows from L to R: Alex Farrow, Chelsea Birkby

"You should never date another comedian". Meet Alex Farrow and Chelsea Birkby, the comedy couple breaking this unwritten rule as they take stand-up hours to the Edinburgh Fringe and live together this summer.

Alex is returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with this third solo show, Philosophy Machines, and Chelsea brings her debut hour, No More Mr Nice Chelsea.

When you both find something funny, who gets to do material about it?

Alex: We have such different styles, it's usually clear who gets it. We're both interested in philosophy, but mine is more explicitly themed that way.

Chelsea: Alex will tell you he's talking about stoicism and consciousness, but it's actually about fingering.

Alex: Chelsea will talk about the Black Eyed Peas and selfies, but it's actually about Sartre and authenticity.

Chelsea: The only time we've ever been like 'ooh these are a bit close' is when we both had five minutes on Cardi B (the philosopher, for anyone not in the know).

Do you want the same thing from the Fringe?

Chelsea: Let's answer for each other!

Alex: Most people go to the Fringe to get discovered. However due to the philosophy that Chelsea's reading, she's going to lose herself.

Chelsea: Alex goes to the Fringe to make money.

Image shows from L to R: Alex Farrow, Chelsea Birkby

How is living together at the Fringe?

Chelsea: The bad? When one of you has a tough gig and the other is flying high. Last time, I had a rough show and came back to Alex sorting out his bucket and had to say "Babe...can you sort your money elsewhere please'. The good? Halves the room cost. Sex.

Alex: And the ugly? Last time we were at the Fringe together, I had a midday show, Chelsea's wasn't until 10:30pm. So one of us would be stumbling in drunk while the other was trying to rest, like "hey! Please...it's lunchtime!!!!!".

Isn't a golden rule among comedians not to date other comedians?

Alex: It's actually great! Sharing ideas, travelling to gigs together, understanding the industry, making out. I love watching my favourite comedian perform every week.

Chelsea: It's the best! I love being booked together but want to say for the final time a Valentine's Day gig does not count as date night.

Do you make each other laugh off-stage?

Chelsea: All the time! Although Alex is always saying he's "not allowed to be funny" and that "I only laugh when he's being stupid". That's not true but it is my favourite because he's usually the more serious, learned one. I once had to shout at him "NOT EVERYTHING IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY!".

Alex: Oh yeah, Chelsea is naturally so funny. The other day she said, "My feet aren't that ticklish cause they're so far away from me". Babe, you're not a brain in a vat.

Image shows from L to R: Alex Farrow, Chelsea Birkby

Do you talk about each other on stage?

Chelsea: Not directly actually! I used to have a bit about my doctor being the second most handsome man I'd ever seen. Someone yelled who's the most? And I said 'please welcome back to the stage Alex Farrow'. It's more that we write with and for each other. I love it but once after a set, Alex was like 'oh man I loved that line. That line killed'. I was like "Are you kidding me? You know you wrote that, right!".

Alex: I'd forgotten I had written it. I like to write for others. I'm not precious about giving away punchlines. I have a lot of Chelsea's toppers or things we've discussed but usually whatever punchline Chelsea's given me I need to switch the attitude cause Chelsea is always presenting as confused.

Chelsea: I don't understand.

So, is your material not personal?

Chelsea: Alex gets annoyed that people say he's not talking about himself and his real feelings. His show this year is about how you can't tell the difference between humans and robots. He doesn't seem to see a tension in this.

Alex: Chelsea's doing a show about how we shouldn't care about what other people think, every day to strangers and asking them to like her. Chelsea says she embraces the absurdity of this existential position. Also, she has a good therapist.

Do you ever perform together?

Alex: Yes. Like, last year at the Fringe we gigged together, Olga Koch said "that's the most sexually charged questions and answers I've ever seen". It was a philosophy and comedy show.

Image shows from L to R: Chelsea Birkby, Alex Farrow

Do you watch each other's shows at the Fringe?

Chelsea: I tried seeing Alex's show a few times in 2021 but it was sold out. Alex always comes to my shows.

Do you get jealous of your partner's opportunities?

Chelsea: No. I mostly get jealous of other people's clothes.

Alex: No, I take great pleasure in Chelsea's successes. Chelsea writes for Mock The Week. When she runs stuff past me, technically does it make me the writer for the writer of Mock The Week?

Do you have other 'significant others' in comedy?

Alex: Harry Househam is my comedy business partner. I sometimes refer to him as my comedy husband. He refers to me as his comedy wife!

What's it like behind the scenes?

Alex: The night before the Fringe we do a preview for each other.

Chelsea: Last year, Alex did a run-through with me and a cardboard cut-out of me I won for free from Heineken in the US and thought was funny... but then fast-forward to $35 customs charge for the most disgusting photo with a ridiculous photoshopped Heineken hat on twice the size of my head. Sorry, what was the question?

What's your favourite joke of theirs?

Alex: "People think the Kardashians are fake but you can't blame them, they're from Beverley Hills - a world heritage site for being an Area of Outstanding Unnatural Beauty."

Chelsea: "Marcus Aurelius said: 'Fools are known by what they say, the wise are known by their silence'. And, I tell you what, I had one of the wisest crowds around last night..."

Image shows from L to R: Alex Farrow, Chelsea Birkby

Would you ever roast each other?

Chelsea: Not on stage. Actually, I am against most roasts. I judged one and kept saying "wow, really horrible stuff! Well done you were very nasty to your friend".

Alex: How much does it pay?

Do you appeal to the same people?

Alex: If you like Love Island, Avril Lavigne and the metaphysical concept of despair, then you'll love Chelsea Birkby: No More Mr Nice Chelsea.

Chelsea: If you like Marcus Aurelius and Time Team but hate the formatting function of Microsoft Word, then you'll love Alex Farrow: Philosophy Machines. Plus, there's an extended bit on a how a specific 6ft penis is the most beautiful object in the world.

How can we keep up with you?

Chelsea: To know what Alex is up to be sure to follow @chelseabirkby on all the socials. Truly, Alex posts so little that sometimes his fans only come to gigs are at because they spotted him on my Instagram.

Published: Wednesday 3rd August 2022

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