Musician, comedian and actor Ben Fairey, known for his acting roles in Channel 4’s Random Acts and M.L.E., is bringing his first ever solo show to theSpace this Fringe, a stramash of techno beats, character comedy, and choreography. Features Editor James T Harding caught up with him to find out how on Earth he’ll fit all that in fifty minutes.
To me thatʼs what Edinburgh is about - trying new work, pushing artistic boundaries and expressing yourself as an individual.
Tell us about your show.
"The show is a character comedy line up. It begins with Floe-Joe who plays different characters whilst music he made is played in the background. Their all new so each characterʼs spot is an introduction to who they are. Theyʼre all pretty bonkers though! One dances, one is shy, possibly an alien and one is Irish. They all end their bits by serving the audience goodies off a plattermade of vinyl."
I enjoyed your character's EP Beats for Spaced Out Arty Types. How do you go about mixing comedy, music and dance all in one show?
"Glad you liked the EP! Floe-Joeʼs going to use the earnings to buy Erykah Baduʼs Afro.
Anyway, when Iʼm coming up with ideas for a show, I rarely think about what type of show it should be. I just think about what I want in it. Thereʼs no decision to distinguish it as cabaret, dance, theatre. They usually all come hand in hand and are experiences I can borrow from directly. I did know that I wanted to use kind of trip hoppy music though. Hence the songs from the EP, which are used to underscore the characters in the show."
The show is clearly based on your personal experiences of the arts industry in England. What advice would you give anyone wanting to make a career in the arts there?
"Try and be as versatile as possible. Itʼs easy to feel like youʼre having a lot of ups and downs in the arts world. Itʼs definitely important to learn to look past them and not treat them like obstacles. Being versatile and willing to adapt to different roles really helps with that. I used to only think about acting and singing when I was a teenager but I soon realized I had extra creative energy
I wanted to do something with. Thatʼs been really good because Iʼve been able to use it in different contexts to go with performing."
This is your first time doing a solo show at the Fringe. What research did you do on the Fringe, and how was the show shaped to fit the Fringe audience?
"Iʼve been in London for a few years now and I spent some time looking up acts on the live circuit. I went to the Fringe in 2009 just to try and see what was around and get a feel for it and just the experience of doing that stayed with me. I wanted to see what kind of similar things were going on down in London and Bristol. That was really helpful because it gave me a stronger eye for what to expect as a performer in Edinburgh instead of an audience member. Just talking to friends who also work in the arts was really good as well. I have a friend in Bristol whoʼs always been encouraging and open minded about the unlimited possibilities of the creative world today. To me thatʼs what Edinburgh is about - trying new work, pushing artistic boundaries and expressing yourself as an individual. My show is aiming to be that. Iʼll know whether Iʼve done my job when I perform it."