First Gig Worst Gig

Dan Lees

Dan Lees

It was the first of times, it was the worst of times. And now we take you back to summertime, early August, and one of the unforeseen late-night thrills at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Dan Lees' Vinyl Countdown does wonderful things with weird old album covers, and is currently rocking London's Soho Theatre, until Saturday.

So how would he explain the Vinyl Countdown?

"I have collected a bunch of bizarre and obscure vinyl records from charity shops," Lees explains, "and I recreate the characters on the covers, performing their songs, with prompts from the audience."

The idea came about when Lees "booked a work in progress at the end of Edinburgh Festival last year," he recalls, "I was up doing a different show for the full run. I didn't have anything planned and the idea came to me while I was rummaging through albums in Edinburgh's excellent charity shops."

And what sort of mighty sums was he shelling out for these vital props?

"The most I've paid is probably around £6. But most cost less than a quid."

Good crate digging, that. Now let's take a spin back to the mid-nineties.

Dan Lees

First gig?

In a pub in Stoke Newington for a night called The Poodle Club, around 2007. I was in a musical double act called the Moonfish Rhumba. We dressed in suits and sang about beans.

Favourite show, ever?

My favourite gig was a late night show with Neil Frost in the double act The Establishment. We convinced the entire audience to get on stage, then we sat in the audience and they performed for us.

Worst gig?

The worst? That was where a prop malfunctioned and the end of an umbrella propelled into the audience and hit an elderly man.

Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?

I love Reggie Watts. For years I didn't use a loop pedal because I thought who could possibly be better at that than him!

Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?

I think I would have fallen out of love instantly the moment it bombed. I'm heartless!

Tommy Kinsman at Your Party

Which albums became the big hits, during the Fringe? Did you get into any of the real music on them?

I don't tend to listen to them, I don't want to be influenced by their actual music. One of my favourite covers is Tommy Kinsman at Your Party, a creepy looking guy with a cigar in his mouth. I'm not sure you'd want him at your party.

Any reviews, heckles or post-gig reactions stick in the mind?

A woman was once offended by a gibberish-speaking army lieutenant character I did in a show called Brainchild, she heckled me and stormed out ripping all my posters off the walls of the venue as she left.

How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?

I'm really excited to be doing a run at Soho Theatre. This show is a lot of fun to perform.

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