Phil Jerrod: Hypocrite on the Fringe
By Caro Moses | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2016
Phil Jerrod is back at the Fringe with new show ‘Hypocrite’, in part inspired by him being mugged in a phone box. With hypocrisy the theme, he sounds like just the chap to give us some honest and consistent answers in an interview, so we threw some questions in his general direction.
CM: Can you tell us a bit about the content of the show? Why is it called ‘Hypocrite’?
PJ: It’s called Hypocrite for a couple of reasons really. The show is all about authenticity. I got mugged this year and was surprised by how I acted. I was very acquiescent – almost helpful. Yet I’d always thought I was the sort of person to fight back, so it made me wonder what else I might be being hypocritical about.
The other reason is because after last year’s show I got a review that suggested that I wasn’t being authentic on stage. I thought that was quite interesting. I like the space between what’s expected to be true and what’s expected to be false in stand-up comedy. The idea that I have to be the person I really am baffles me.
But if you think all that sounds a bit worthy – it’s still basically a load of stupid jokes about dogs and cats and printer ink – although the mugging is pretty pivotal. It’s a huge part of the show.
CM: So you really were mugged? That’s not good. Is doing a show about it in any way cathartic?
PJ: No it’s not cathartic at all really. The mugging isn’t really very important and it’s only a very small part of the show.
I used to tell a long anecdote about the mugging – but really, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – the only weird thing about it was that it happened in a phone box like an episode of ‘Record Breakers’.
But yeah, it really happened. In the show I claim that everything I say is a lie. But that’s not strictly true. Most of the stories really happened.
CM: Your debut Edinburgh show ‘Neanderthal’ was highly acclaimed – do you feel the success of that has had an impact on your career?
PJ: You know I really have no idea. The show went really well, but Edinburgh is a bubble so I don’t take any of it too seriously. I got good and bad reviews, good and bad audiences, and I wore a selection of different shirts – checked and striped – I had a great time. But it’s very hard to say what impact Edinburgh really has on anyone’s career. I don’t think it makes too much of a difference really.
CM: How do you feel about returning to Edinburgh? Do you like being here?
PJ: Well the Edinburgh Festival can really make or break a person’s career, so obviously I was nervous to come back. But I’m really enjoying myself this year. As this is my second show it’s a very different beast to last year – I’m feeling both more relaxed and a whole load more tense about it.
I was doing tour support for the first six months of the year and this feels like a much more openly clubby, silly hour than ‘Neanderthal’ was. But I’m enjoying it more as a result. I love the Festival and I really enjoy doing the show – it’s just hard to be away from home for such a long time
CM: How did you get into comedy? Did you always want to be a stand-up?
PJ: I wanted to travel – to spend a long time away from home and really get around the country. Stand-up is perfect for that.
I wanted to be a stand-up for a good many years before I actually had a go. I started because my old boss egged me on. I used to work in a book shop. It was a great job and I really enjoyed working there. We would talk about stand-up all day. It’s those conversations that really got me thinking I should do it.
CM: So did you have lots of ‘normal jobs’ before breaking into comedy?
PJ: Yes, I’ve had loads of proper jobs in my time and I haven’t enjoyed any of them. They never lasted very long. I’ve been a waiter countless times, a cook, a labourer, I’ve worked in call centres and universities and about a million crappy offices. When I started comedy I was working as an editorial assistant in a publishers. I was stupendously bad at it.
CM: What advice would you have for anyone else considering trying to make it as a stand-up?
PJ: Have a supportive partner and a very understanding day job. It’s very difficult to hold down a job and do stand-up. Your co-workers eventually start to resent you – they worry you’re making fun of them on stage and you’re always knackered at work. Also, take hand sanitizer, because comedians are dirty beasts.
CM: Have you ever had a very horrific moment on stage?
PJ: Worst I can remember was in a club in Bristol. The audience were sitting at tables with fixed lamps in the centre – I thought it would be funny to try and wrestle with one of the lamps in a ‘comedy way’ – but it turned out the lamps were not fixed to the tables at all. So when I grabbed one I accidentally punched a woman in the face with it.
CM: Is there anyone or anything you’d cite as influences?
PJ: I’m influenced by all the cool American stand-ups. I’m a big fan of Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr. Also Louis CK, Bill Hicks, Sarah Silverman, George Carlin and Amy Schumer. But my biggest influence is Les Dawson. The man was a genius.
CM: What’s the best thing about being in Edinburgh? What’s the worst?
PJ: The best thing is that all the comedians from all across the country are here – so it’s like a big reunion of people you may have only seen once or twice throughout the year. The worst thing is that all the comedians from all across the country are here – so it’s like a big reunion of people you may have only seen once or twice throughout the year.
CM: Which shows, apart from your own, would you recommend to Fringe-goers this year?
PJ: There are so many shows this year to recommend that I’d be scared to leave someone out. But I would like to mention Joshua Babberidge’s puppet show, ‘Blabber-Porridge’ at 12.35 at Bar Hipstertron. It had me rolling in the aisles and then sobbing and then thinking. It’s got heart, soul, power, heart, and power, and the songs of Whitney Housten – rest in peace. It really made me reevaluate my opinion on what juggling could be.
CM: And finally, what’s next for you?
PJ: I’m going to do some squat thrusts, have a shower and then wolf down some fresh figs. Then I’m going for a run. I’m training for a half marathon in the spring so I’m really trying to feel the burn this Edinburgh. I’ve recently turned vegan and it’s really made a difference to my health and to my spirit. After that it’s just the usual charity fundraising, community work, oh and of course come the spring I’ll be out in the allotment – those clods won’t turn themselves!
‘Phil Jerrod: Hypocrite’ was performed at Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Festival 2016.
Photo by Kat Gollock