Edinburgh Fringe grilling: Chris Ramsey

Jonny Abrams21 July 2010 - 14:40



Next up on our comfy couch of comedy is emerging Geordie joker and indefatigable innovator of fire fightball (oh yes) Chris Ramsey, a professed non sport fan, as the Sport.co.uk Edinburgh Fringe grilling continues unabated in its relentless collecting of answers from those who shall be performing there throughout August…
Do you have an allegiance to any sporting team or do you ignore all of that?
I used to support Newcastle United when I was younger but I just got sick of it. I used to put a lot of effort into pretending I cared about them because everyone else did, but then I got to the kind of age where it was alright not to care. I’ll go to the pub to watch a game if all my mates are going. People tend to think that, unless you follow a sport seriously, you don’t understand but sometimes I spot an offside before anyone else in the pub. A mate will say, “How did you do that?” but I’m not an idiot. I just don’t follow it.
Are there any sports that you particularly hate?
I’m not a fan of any kind of racing, like horses or motors. It’s got no substance. With a sport, I’d think to myself, would I like to be there watching it? I think any kind of racing would be extremely boring to watch.
Have you ever played any sports? If so, what were your experiences of it like?

I used to try and play football but I hated it because I wasn’t very good and everyone used to shout at me. But I used to be really good at boxing – I had a couple of amateur fights in competitions. I was really good when I was training and sparring in the gym with people I knew but, when it came to the actual night and I was facing a person I didn’t know and we had to do all the staring at each other in the ring and touching gloves and stuff, I used to get really nervous and I bottled it every time. But I used to really love boxing.
If you could invent your own sport, what would it entail?
When the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl last year, I bought this retro, yellow Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt which I’ve worn in a couple of publicity shots. I didn’t know anything about American football but the guy in the shop started striking up a conversation with me about it. I had to sort of wing it. But I didn’t realise that they were in the final that evening and, as I left the shop, he said something like, “Are you going to watch it, then?”  I didn’t know what he was talking about. After the game, me and my mate/fellow comedian Jason Cook invented a game called Fire Fightball. It was like the Super Bowl except it was in a cage, there was no referee, the ball was on fire and I think everyone was naked. It would be a health and safety nightmare.
What have been your best and worst experiences of the Fringe?
For me, the weather controls whether or not I have a nice day. I’ve got quite long hair and I straighten it to make it look nice but, as soon as I walk out into the damp air of Edinburgh, it curls back. If it’s raining and warm, everyone comes into the venues all sweaty and wet and, although it’s nice when it’s hot but it gets boiling in the venues. It all depends on the weather, really. The only day when I was really miserable last year was when it was hammering down with rain. I think I might have seasonal affective disorder.
What’s your favourite Fringe venue?
It has to be the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, which I did last year with the Avalon Comedy Zone. It’s got quite a bit of history – Frank Skinner won the Perrier Award in there. I watched John Bishop and Russell Kane in there last year. It’s a really nice venue and the one that Edinburgh University uses.

Best place in Edinburgh to go for a drink? And for a bite to eat?

Brass Monkey on South Bridge is really cool – it’s a normal pub at the front but I went to go to the toilet at the back and everyone was lounging around on bean bags and cushions! The Pleasance Dome is good if you want to see loads of famous comedians, although you need a pass for the upstairs bar. We saw Charlie Brooker in there last year – I didn’t say anything but some absolute arsehole shouted out his name, so he turned around and walked straight back out! Food-wise, there’s a sushi place at the bottom of Rose Street, sort of opposite the castle behind Princes Street. I can’t remember the name of it (Google-savvy Sport.co.uk says: Oishii, perhaps?) but it’s the greatest sushi place I’ve ever been. I hadn’t tried sushi until a mate took me there last year and I’ve spent the entire year since trying to find somewhere that matches it. I haven’t found one so I’m looking forward to going back and rekindling my love for it.
What’s the best heckle you’ve ever heard?

I talk about the best ‘social heckle’ in my show - it was when an open top coach with ‘American Youth Theatre’ written on the side was going along the Royal Mile and they were all out on the top shouting out things about America, stuff like, “Yeah, USA theatre is the best!” So this really drunk, possibly homeless Scottish guy shouts out, “THERE’S…NO…OIL…HERE! SO F*** OFF!” The best heckle I ever heard in a comedy club was at a club in Newcastle called The Hyena – I’m performing there next weekend before I go to Edinburgh. I was compering there once and there were two other comedians performing. The first one had struggled mightily – not because he was a bad comic – so I had to go back on and whip the crowd back into shape. I got the second comedian on and the fire alarm started. When it stopped, everyone sort of banded together and shouted stuff like “come on mate!” to help the comedian overcome adversity. Thirty seconds of no laughter later, some guy at the back went, “Put the fire alarm back on!” I’m not going to say who it was but it was a big TV name.
Which acts are you looking forward to watching at the Festival?
Jason Cook, Russell Kane and Jimmy McGee. I’d also like to go and see some sketch groups.
Who is the Lionel Messi (ie modern day great) of comedy? And the Pele (ie all time great)?
For me, the all-time great has to be Billy Connolly, without a doubt. I watched him growing up and I love him. The modern day great would probably have to be Daniel Kitson, I reckon, although I don’t know if he’d like being put in that category. Stewart Lee would be up there, too. Jason Cook would be the Paul Scholes of comedy – consistently good but not massively on the radar, not in your face and in the papers all the time. See, I know a little bit about football!
Finally, can you tell us anything about your show? Where and when can we see you perform?

The show is called Aggro-Phobic. It’s on at the Hut in the Pleasance Courtyard at 8.30, every night from the 4th to the 30th. It’s about how I tense up if someone approaches me in the street, because I always assume that they’re going to give me aggro, and why I shouldn’t be so closed off about it. I could have called it Chris Ramsey Doesn’t Fancy Getting the Sh*t Kicked Out of Him.

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