Mike Raffone is at the Fringe this August with his one man show Brain Rinse. It’s a show that takes a radical look at audience participation, everybody joins in so no one is singled out. Mike spoke with The Fountain about his show and plans for the festival.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Yes, it is. I love it as there is a real buzz, plus you get to do 20 plus shows and that’s invaluable. It’s great to put one’s work before the paying public.
TF: Brain Rinse certainly sounds interesting, what is the premise?
I’ve done comedy street theatre shows for over thirty years now and they are always interactive with a direct involvement of the public. I wanted to take that idea and make a theatre/comedy show around it. I also had been doing a cabaret act for a few years where I come on stage as an orchestral conductor and conduct the audience as if they were an orchestra. I decided to do a sort of sketch show, whereby every routine had to have some kind of mass involvement, like the conductor. So every sketch has a cast of thousands. One minute the audience is in the army, the next a weird cult.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
My first love has always been theatre and comedy so I wanted to move away from street theatre as I’m not getting any younger. I’ve always been more interested in a more off the wall, clown type comedy than stand up. I guess early influences were classic stuff like Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and of course Tommy Cooper. But what I’m into does change. There was some great stuff in the so-called alternative comedy boom of the eighties, things like Leo Bassi, The Greatest Show on Legs, and The Wow Show with Arden and Frost. Recently I saw The Butt Kapinski Show and was blown away by it. That was the direction I wanted to more go into. Audience interaction that is fun and doesn’t humiliate anyone.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
I really would like to get a bit known in the industry and of course build on last year and get good houses. I’m a bit unknown, as I’ve spent decades almost as a sideshow. For first time performers I’d say go for it and have fun. Do your kind of show and hang the consequences. Don’t get hung up about being and overnight success. While that’s possible, it’s not a given. Each year from the thousands of shows, perhaps a handful create a buzz and do really well. Yes, these shows are brilliant, but I do want to dispel the myth to people starting out that you get success in Edinburgh just by being the best there is. If only a handful of people see your show, it doesn’t make it dreadful. You have to keep coming back year after year. I’d say just realise what the bottom line is. You will get to put your work in front of an audience for three weeks, and in doing that you’ll learn and develop, and that’s worth a lot. And who knows, you may make the big time. As for my recommendations. Well I saw a fantastic clown at my local theatre the other week called Julia Masli. I think she’s brilliant! She in a show called Legs with other great new clown/comics. I’ll be seeing her again for sure. Also Rob Auton and Paul Currie, indeed anything at the wonderful Heroes of Comedy venues. I think Bob Slayer’s venues are becoming the heart of the fringe. Also the great clown Lucy Hopkins because I missed her show last year.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Brain Rinse?
I hope to tour it in theatres and I’m also writing a new show, that’s stupidly even bigger in scope that Brain Rinse for next year.
You can see Brain Rinse at the theSpace @ Surgeons Hall from 2nd – 24th August (Not 11th) at 19:10. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com