Star of BBC’s Scot Squad and award-winning comedian, Chris Forbes returns to Edinburgh with an electrifying hour of stand-up, songs and sketches. Having just won Best Actor at The Scottish Comedy Awards there are many reasons to check out his show this Fringe.
The Fountain spoke with Chris about his 2017 Fringe show at the Gilded Balloon, Unquiet Mind, what got him into comedy and his propelled police-acting career.
TF: Chris, you are performing at the Fringe again this year. Can you tell us about your show?
The show is called Unquiet Mind. The reason behind that was nothing hard-hitting or deep and meaningful, it was really just that I had so many different ideas that I would’ve like to have tried this year that I decided to merge them all together. I kind of bill it as a one-man variety show and there are comedy songs, sketches, monologues, some stand up so a little bit of everything.
TF: And this is not your first Fringe, not by a mile. What is it about Edinburgh Festivals that makes you come back time and time again?
There are probably two reasons. If you ask most performers they don’t like the Edinburgh Fringe as they don’t like the pressure and the intensity, it can make you feel quite claustrophobic but the industry in general dictates that you have to be there. It feels like if you are not there, then you are missing out or not seen to be doing the “right thing” so it is almost comedy etiquette that you must go to the Fringe but then also it is the one time where all performers, not just comics, can try something a bit different, be more creative. The rest of the year round especially for comics you are doing pubs and gigs where you are maybe doing material that is appealing to the crowd but not yourself. When the Edinburgh Fringe comes around you can push yourself to try something more experimental.
TF: What was it about comedy that inspired you to get involved? And was there a moment where you were like “that’s what I want to be?”
There probably was a moment, funnily enough. I’d always loved comedy so I guess that’s just a clichéd thing.
I went to live in America when I was sixteen years old to play basketball and basketball was my absolute life at the time. But whilst I was over there I signed up to do a thing called Mr Heritage (Heritage was the name of the high school) and there was a section in the Mr Heritage competition where you had to show off a talent and I did not have one that I felt I could do. People were playing instruments. So I just put my kilt on a See You Jimmy hat, I talked about the differences between Scotland and America and essentially it was my first ever stand-up routine. I did remember thinking that those eight minutes of stand-up was more enjoyable than the rest of the time I was there. That was the feeling I remembered when I had my first real gig and signed up.
TF: You are also in BBC’s Scotsquad, which has been a successful spoof reality show about the police. What is your involvement there? Certainly seems to have propelled your police acting career from what I can gather?
Aye, so in Scotsquad I play P.C. Charlie MacIntosh, which is a naïve, rural country copper and it has been great. It suits comics, there has been a lot of comic guest stars in it and comic actors, as it is all improvised, which makes it very good fun and loose and easy, free-formed. Bizarrely at the end of last season’s Scotsquad I got cast in Jonathan Creek as a Detective Inspector so I got a kind of promotion. It was quite nice to play a plain clothes officer but hopefully I won’t just be cast as policemen for the rest of my life.
TF: So what is it about your show that should make people come to Unquiet Mind over any other show?
I do like to think there is a little something for everyone. As a result of seeing so many hard-hitting shows last year I really wanted to do a show that was total escapism, silly fun. So people are going to come in and if they don’t like one element of the show it is going to quickly change up into another element. There is a monologue about sharing a train with Hitler, there are songs about falling in love with a girl that worked in Pizza Hut when I was fifteen, there’s a sketch about two chairs, real off the wall stuff. I have actually for eight months been living as an alter-ego online and I have been interacting with people in the comments sections of social content and I share some of the hilarious conversations I have been having with some mentalist warriors, which has been great fun.
TF: And for those that are in Edinburgh for their first time, do you have some recommendations for what visitors should do whilst here?
My recommendation would be just to not make any plans. Just walk around, take in the sites, walk into different venues and places and see some of the free stuff, watch the street performers. See where you end up as there is something at every turn.
Chris Forbes will be performing Unquiet Mind at the Gilded Balloon from 2nd until 28th August. Tickets and details are available here.