You won’t find him in the main programme and he hates comedians, but energetic stand-up, Justin Panks, still talks to Martin Walker about his brand new Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, Chagrin and Bare Wit.
I seem to have reached a stage in my life where I genuinely hate everything and the only sliver of joy I get is from pointing this out to people. Seemingly innocuous subjects can set me off on a vitriolic rant such as two people on a tandem, men wearing flip-flops or the painfully tenuous puns in Edinburgh show titles.
“My show deals with the fairly universal issues of humiliation, failure and a feeling of becoming obsolete in an ever-changing world…plus jokes. I seem to have reached a stage in my life where I genuinely hate everything and the only sliver of joy I get is from pointing this out to people. Seemingly innocuous subjects can set me off on a vitriolic rant such as two people on a tandem, men wearing flip-flops or the painfully tenuous puns in Edinburgh show titles.”
Why did you choose to perform as part of Freestival?
“I know the people behind Freestival and have had good experiences working with them on various projects in the past. I have never been to Edinburgh before and they offered me a super short run so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dip my toe in and see what all the fuss is about.”
For you, is Stand-Up Comedy a career choice or a calling – and why?
“A calling, I suppose. I have never been able to keep my mouth shut if I thought of a joke or witty comment even if I knew full well it would land me in trouble/make me unpopular/upset someone. After 3 decades of dressing downs, formal disciplinary meetings and broken relationships I realised I was unable to change my character so maybe I should change the context.”
Have you ever gone too far? What happened?
“In the early days I went too far many, many times. I started with it turned up to 11 and reigned it in from that point on, which is the way a lot of comedians start I think. As you gain experience you appreciate that stand-up comedy can be subtle and it doesn’t have to be a brick in the face, when you start and are staring at a blank page outrageous or shocking subjects seem to fill the page and are a readymade angle while you try to find your voice. Nothing ever really happened though, people just tend to look annoyed, boo you off stage or threaten to kill you in a car park in Burton on Trent.”
If you were curating a stand up show for television, who would be your guests?
“I wouldn't. I hate comedy and I hate comedians. Plus it sounds like hard work, which I also hate.”
Photograph by 'Brian Higgins Photography'