One added bonus of FGWG's annual jaunt to the Edinburgh Fringe is chancing upon someone thoroughly interesting who's decided to rock up and play a few random gigs. Just such a chap is Dino Wiand, a New York-based Brit who's back playing shows after a 16 year break.
"I moved to New York in 1997 from London and got into comedy not long after," he explains. "I did pretty well there quickly, not a big name or anything, but it all ended when I got married: I could sense my wife not happy with me performing, so I quit for 16 years only to return the day we separated."
Wiand does also point out that a lot of his material is about being single, which doesn't really work when you're married. So how did he end up at the Fringe - and with a show called Dino Wiand: Yorkshire Ripper?
"The show is basically a mistake. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, and walking back my mind wandered and I stupidly thought it was a good idea for me to play a mass murderer who is let out from prison to perform a stand-up show at the Fringe as part of his rehabilitation.
"I wrote a whole show and submitted it to the Laughing Horse Free Festival. Later, to my surprise and horror, the show was accepted. My first thought was 'what have I done?'
"I took what I thought were some bad showtimes and random days in the hope that no one would come - I might be the only person at the Fringe who didn't want an audience. But actually it's turned out to be a full house every show so far. And I'm OK with it now. It's basically my own stand-up routine with a little bit of Ripper."
Right. Now, let's journey back across the pond, to the late '90s...
1998 in New York, I had just moved from London and was working at the Film Forum movie theatre in the Village and a guy working there was a stand-up. He asked me if I wanted to do a show with him. I always played a guy at work who got confused about everything, and he noticed people liked it.
I did a five minute set at The Comedy Cellar with nothing in my head other than a dumb joke which goes something like this: "do the germs that make up the flu virus have the flu themselves or are they healthy? Are they sneezing, with a headache, or are they like strong Nazi soldiers marching around my body?"
I opened with that question to a blank-looking audience. I guess it's a very odd joke but oddly they all laughed. I only remember Collin Quinn and Rick Chrom being on the bill but my imagination sometimes likes to think the long haired blond guy there was Mitch Hedberg, but I don't know.
I didn't really know any comedians back then other than Bill Hicks, who I'd seen in Leeds in the early '90s with my Dad.
Favourite show, ever?
A short set at The Stand in Glasgow, the audience reacted exactly like it would in my head. I wish I had recorded it. The Glasgow audience seem to react similarly to the New York audience for some reason I have not figured out.
I did a show at The Hollywood Comedy Store, Gad Elmaleh was on the bill. When I got on stage everyone in the audience were looking down at their iPhones. I looked around to see if I could find any of the 150 audience members who were looking at me but everyone including the keyboard player, bar staff, booker and MC/compere were looking down at their phones, on social media. That's the time when looking inwards and doing your set is useful.
The weirdest gig experience?
I was booked on a gig that I wasn't told was a Bar Mitzvah at the old location of the Gotham Comedy Club years ago. Only in New York would they have a Bar Mitzvah in a comedy club with random comedians. That was the only time in my life I have heard 13 year old kids be completely silent, and not in a good way.
Who's the most disagreeable promoter/agent/comic you've come across in the business?
A certain comedy club near Times Square, I think most New York-based comics will know what I am talking about. They get tourists to come to the club based on a big-name comic being on the bill but there never is.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
I have a joke about why a lot of recorded songs fade out at the end without us getting to hear the end and how odd that is: no other media, like news or movies, would it be acceptable to fade out at the end, yet in music it's totally fine. Maybe if I could fade out this question now...
Do you have a tip for UK comics trying to get gigs in the States?
I would say most Americans love Monty Python and Peter Cook/Dudley Moore and that is what they tend to think British comedy is, sort of the 'mythical eccentric British comedian'. I believe there is a huge market for that type of British comedian, especially because I don't think there are any working in the States.
Other than that I would say leave your props and musical instruments in the UK at first, as I really don't think clubs like it or respect it (one of my favourite NYC comedians Judah Friedlander does occasionally walk on stage with a supermarket bag of props but I have never seen him open it).
I would definitely suggest going over to New York for a month and doing the new-talent shows and open mics. I think if you are coming from out of town, a few clubs would be happy to get you on some showcase shows. I know a few European pro comedians come and do a five-day class at The American Comedy Institute, and the infamous Gladys Simon open mic at the Comic Strip Live, which is maybe a great way to see how your British set may work in the States.
Another thing is to hang out at the Comedy Cellar and The Stand NYC club in the East Village, I found New York a way better place to enter the US comedy scene than Los Angeles as a Brit.
The most memorable review, heckle or post-gig reaction?
Usually the worst one is 'was that your first gig?'
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?
Ha ha ha ha - if I thought about that I would quit. I think my life is about what not to think about at this stage of my career.