By any account, Dominic Holland has had a successful career. As a stand-up comic, he’s won a best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe, hosted a Radio 4 series, appeared on a number of television shows including Have I Got News For You, published four books and worked as a stand-up comic for 25 years. This year’s show, Eclipsed, is his sixth Fringe run. In most families, that would make him the local celebrity, the epicentre of any reunion. But Dominic Holland is the father of Tom Holland, who made his West End debut in Billy Elliott at the envy-inspiring age of 12, and can now be seen in cinemas around the world as the star of Spider-man: Homecoming.
every single person on the Fringe is trying to become famous, me included.
Despite the implications in the title, Dominic downplays the role of his prodigal son in Eclipsed, his new free stand-up show. ‘My story is,’ Holland says, ‘I’m a married father of four, one of whom is incredibly illustrious; the other three are ordinary kids. And it’s me dealing with the world, dealing with life, trying to be a good dad, trying to be a good comic, trying to write my books and chucking stuff at the wall, hoping some of it sticks’.
Parenting Tom, now 21, may only be one concern for Holland, but it is a unique one. Asked if he worries about the side effects of fame, he says ‘We do, me and his mum. I’m not worried about Tom becoming a diva or an idiot, because he’s a pretty grounded boy and he understands that all of the acolytes and sycophants are just that.’
‘What I do worry about is the scrutiny he’s under, and the lack of privacy he has to suffer now. Clearly, these people, young fans of Tom, don’t just like him, they obsess about him. I think that’s going to becomes difficult for Tom. We met the parents of another very famous actor in London recently and they explained how hard it is for him to have an ordinary life. I think that’s going to be the cost of being Spider-man and that will be difficult for him. He’ll have to adjust.
‘That’s life. Listen, every single person on the Fringe is trying to become famous. Me included. I didn’t quite get there. We all want to get famous, we want to be successful showbiz people. So I’m not complaining that my son is a famous showbiz person, but I think as famous as his character is, it comes with some costs.’
Holland is quick to acknowledge the comic potential of being Spider-man, Sr. ‘I think the newest stuff you do is the best, for some reason. A sapling is always most attractive when it’s young and new, so my Spider-man stuff, at the moment, is probably my biggest laughs.
‘Even though I have this unusual situation because of what’s happened to Tom, and I’d say I’m having a successful career as a comedian, the takeaway is “Dominic Holland has the same issues as me, even though I’m a teacher, or I’m working for parcel force.”
‘For my show to work, I can’t go on and point out things people have already noticed. I have to talk about the oblique things in my life, that resonate. And that’s the takeaway. “My life is just like Dominic Holland’s life.” It’s a very affirming show. And even though I’m moaning about things and I point out I’m not happy about certain things, it’s always done with a sense of “We’re all suffering this”.
‘If my audience didn’t chime with my observations, my material wouldn’t make them laugh. When you write a book you can get smiles, but when you do stand-up you’ve got to make people actually laugh out loud. That’s my barometer, and if stuff doesn’t make people laugh, I dump it.’
Dominic Holland Eclipsed runs from the 5th to the 27th (not 8th or 9th), 16:40 at the Voodoo Rooms.