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Hot dogs and hilarity: Ed Gamble interview

Ed Gamble. Credit: Matt Crockett

We talk with Ed Gamble about his Hot Diggity Dog tour, which has been heading across the UK and continues to do so until November of this year. He explains how he first got into comedy, what it is like to create a touring show and what he hopes audiences take away from his performance.

How did you first get into the world of comedy?

I got into comedy when I was twelve or thirteen - was absolutely obsessed with it. My mum took me to see Steve Coogan live when I was thirteen and that was a huge moment for me. But I didn't really think, 'I'd like to do that'. It was more just something I absolutely loved. And then, when I went to university, there was a sketch group I went to see and - no offense to them, because I still know people who are in it! - I thought, "I could do better!" And auditioned for them the week after and got in.

Then it was three years of me writing and performing comedy, rather than actually focusing on my degree. I started doing stand-up because I was obsessed with it and I loved it. It became my career after that. But I never saw it as a career ladder or something to get into to sustain me - it worked out that way. So I feel very lucky.

Ed Gamble

Can you tell us a bit about this tour in particular, what it's about?

Yes! This tour is called Hot Diggity Dog, which I can't stress enough, there's absolutely no relevance to the content of the show. You need to name your show, especially if you're doing a UK tour, about a year before you actually go on tour, so I just picked a title that would be fun to say in interviews over and over again. It's paid off! I love saying Hot Diggity Dog.

Essentially, there's four chunks in the show. My shows tend to be everything I've thought of and stories about my life from the last time I toured, rather than having one big overarching concept. But, to be honest, the overarching concept, if you wanted to find one, is that I'd rather be at home with my wife! [Laughs] About how settled and comfortable I feel now, and the fact that I have to drag myself around the country is actually quite difficult.

There's a big chunk about my neighborhood WhatsApp group, then my honeymoon, and my cat and also having to go to A&E because I cut myself with a kitchen implement. But it does all tie together, and it weaves together. I just want an hour and a quarter of flowing, anecdotal stand-up and I think that's what I've managed!

And what's the creative process like for you, when creating a show for a tour like this?

It is doing a lot of gigs; it's doing a lot of new material gigs, it's doing a lot of previews.

I normally get the tent poles quite quickly - I know what stories I want to tell. But then it's about getting as much out of those stories as possible and that will only come by doing gigs week after week, night after night and trying to get it all fleshed out. By the time I take it on the road, it's pretty much all there.

But, once I'm comfortable with it, I will then be able to mess around with it on stage; and it just evolves and mutates across the whole tour. It's a constantly changing beast. But a lot of it's done on stage and is just constant bashing away at it, really.

Ed Gamble

And how does it feel to be doing those WIP shows? What's that like compared to doing a fully fleshed-out show?

Constant vulnerability and nervousness that you can't write a show this time, even though you thought that the previous time and you did it!

Just constant worry that you're not going to be able to do it punctured with moments of absolute joy when you find a new bit that you know is going to work, that you can grow and evolve.

It's always a rollercoaster. I keep thinking, when I'm writing a tour, I should record myself saying "Hello, Ed in the future. You're writing a new show, it will be fine, you will be able to get a good show." But I probably wouldn't listen to myself!

My wife has to deal with it - always the same rhythm as well! It's always around the same time, a month before the tour starts, like "Is this a bad one? I've actually not written a show this time!" And she can just be like, "Nope, you said that last time. I know it's going to be good." But she's also the one who gets me a week into the tour going, "I think it's quite good, actually!" She's like, "Yeah, I told you this would happen. Let's see if we can skip the anguish next time!" But I don't think I'll ever be able to skip the anguish.

Ed Gamble

Hot Diggity Dog already has had a bit of "controversy" with the poster change in the Tube. What was it like seeing that?

When it comes to me, I guess that is controversial! So, TFL wouldn't accept the image of a hotdog on a poster because of their policy of not having pictures of fast food on the Tube network, which I understand.

It's a bit of a broad brushstroke, because it wasn't actually advertising fast food, and I think I look disgusting while I'm eating it! So, if anything, it's a good advert to not eat hot dogs. But it was very funny to me - it was great.

I was slightly concerned that when we started messing around with it and talking about it in the press, replacing it with the cucumber, all of that, I was worried that the "You can't say anything these days" sets might decide to try and adopt me as some sort of spokesman, but I'm glad they didn't. I'm glad I managed to head them off at the pass!

And how has the tour been going so far?

It's been fantastic, thank you! Yeah, it's quite deep into it now. Very happy with the show and really playing around with it onstage, finding new things to talk about and new avenues. It's away a lot, which I do mention in the show. I don't like being away from home for too long, but that's happening. And we're doing an extension as well in the autumn so we've got lots of dates to come, but it's been fantastic.

What is it like performing onstage in a tour versus on screen for comedy?

It's very different! I still maintain that anything I do on the screen, comedy wise or as myself, is a very good tool to get more people to come and see me live, because that is what I enjoy doing the most. That's why I started doing it.

Performing live, there's nothing quite like it. And you can't even get the feeling of what it's like if you're watching a live stand-up show. I enjoy doing TV. I'll do anything that I think I'm going to enjoy, but it's all there so I can go out on tour and do shows.

Taskmaster. Ed Gamble

Do you have advice for any comedians looking to get their start?

I think it's so different now, most of my advice would be utterly useless for younger comedians! [Laughs] I have comedians from a generation or a couple of generations behind me supporting me on tour, and just talking to them about what it takes to get noticed now...

There's just so many more comedians, and there were loads when I started. It was already a busy, busy marketplace when I started but it's even more now. The notion of having to put clips up of yourself and constantly recording every gig and putting videos up and subtitling videos, it just seems like a different job now. So my advice would be speak to a younger comedian!

[Laughs] What do you hope audiences take away from Hot Diggity Dog?

I hope they piss themselves laughing from beginning to end! I don't do comedy for someone to take away some big life lesson. If it helps them in some way, that's absolutely great. But if it helps them just because they've sat there for the evening and laughed their heads off, then that's amazing as well. Some comedians try and have a message, some massive, hard-hitting, important thing in their show, and I love those comedians as much as I love the ones like myself who just want to be silly. That's the main aim. I get to perform for people! I get to show off and that's why I do it.

And finally, how would you describe the show in one word?

One word is hard because I'm a man of many words! I'll just say piss.


Ed Gamble: Hot Diggity Dog runs through to November 2024. edgamble.co.uk

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