Long-time Cuffer Simon Plotkin swaps interviews with one of the 2017 Fringe’s most fascinating characters, the troubled troubadour Gerald Galbraith. They’re pretty similar in many ways, making for an intriguing meeting of minds…
Simon interviews Gerald
So Mr Galbraith, why bring your show to Brighton? Some would say your brand of Scottish folk is too colloquial for those you repeatedly refer to as Sassonachs (non Scots); are you not worried your act won’t translate for the seaside town?
First of all Simon, thank you for jumping right into the meat of the matter and not demeaning us both by asking to simply describe my show. Your journalistic integrity is refreshing. As to that meat; one of my numerous gifts is one of transmutation. That is making the colloquial into the universal. See? I bet a few of your readers may not have known the word transmutation but now they do. This is my power. The Scots are humans. Their desires and, by extension, my desires are our desires; those of the whole human race. To love. To understand. To be loved. To be understood. Troubadour speaks to all humanity. Also my request for a custom glossary to be sent to all citizens of Brighton and Hove was denied by the council due to budgetary concerns.
Like many Scots I first encountered you as part of the famous kids’ entertainment duo The Hootsmen. I’ll never forget my school assembly where you both sang ‘Can Yer Daddy Dae the Can Can Today?’. How and why did you make the leap from children’s fare to adult art?
An easy and predictable answer would be that after my partner’s mysterious disappearance I was sent into a dark fug and expressed my total breakdown through gloomy yet wistful songs and poems in an attempt to find meaning in a harsh, cruel world. That would be pat nonsense. The truth is that I was stroked by The Muse at an early age, I felt her firm metaphorical… (Gerald’s 2000 word response trimmed for length and sense – ED) …therefore the only option, not merely for me but for the world, was to become The Troubadour.
A full, frank and unexpectedly explicit answer, Gerald. Thank you. One final question, during the show you do something quite brave and that is take an audience request for a song. Something I’ve seen even popular artists such as REM struggle with. The night I saw your gig I was too shy to request anything and no one else in the crowd had previously heard of you. There was silence. Suddenly a woman shouted ‘Scumbag potato!’ Clearly this was exclaimed at her dinner but your stirring ballad Scumbag Potato stole the show. Explain.
Ah yes my account of the Ayrshire Potato Famine; the less glamorous and well known of the potato famines but to me the most poetic. My honest answer is that folk music literally runs through my veins. If you slice open my arm I would of course bleed to death but that death would be accompanied by a poignant tune issued from the capillaries. Every thought I have had, each thing I have seen, all combinations of words possible that have passed my lips or anyone else’s have become the title for a song of mine. Some might say that this is physically impossible, that I must be making it up on the spot but that would be feat too great for even an improviser of (I assume) your great talent, Simon. Brighton may very well feature rare airings of my near-masterpieces The Silent Seagull of Burgess Hill and Sweet Vegan Maiden, Whence Come Thy Leathery Shoes? If they’re requested of course.
Catch ‘Simon Plotkin is Gerald Galbraith: Troubadour’ at The Warren: Studio 3 (St Peter’s Church North, York Place, Brighton BN1 4GU), 18th & 19th May & 4th June, at 8pm.
Tickets £10 from https://www.brightonfringe.org/box-office/shows/view/simon-plotkin-gerald-galbraith-troubadour
Gerald interviews Simon
Describe your show.
Oh. Right. That’s it is it? Just that? Very well. Crime and Funishment is an improvised TV-style detective drama. A bit like an episode of Cadfael, Pie in the Sky, Lewis or a more popular and well known crime show but totally invented on the spot. The person who actually dunnit might not even know they dunnit till the end. We debuted the show in last year’s Brighton Fringe and got an amazing, stellar, sold-out response so I’m hoping for more of the same.
Improv. It can’t really all be made up can it?
I’m sorry but for your interview I did a lot of work; I went to see one of your gigs – which was hard to track down by the way – and really thought about interesting questions to ask. Please just try to do me the same courtesy. I know our show isn’t aiming for high art like yours but it still deserves at least an iota of your respect. And yes it is all made up. Even the songs.
Ok, fine. As well as improv you also do stand-up, sketch and *eurgh* character comedy. How do those differing disciplines inform one another?
Thank you. A proper question. For me, any live comedy is a lot about audience engagement. I think I have a style which, while not exactly fourth wall shattering, acknowledges and plays with the audience. A lot of this comes from improv as you are reliant on them to suggest things and this makes everyone in it together. The best stand up gigs I’ve done also have this kind of atmosphere and even in character comedy, which I think you unfairly dismiss, I try to have moments of spontaneity. When you write a character properly they get into your head and you can think like them then this allows you to mess around. Though sometimes they get too much into your head.
Well you can have conversations between yourself and the character, hopefully not out loud at least, and be surprised by their answers. Even though they’re actually you.
That sounds awful. Never share any of those conversations with anyone.
I won’t, Gerald, I won’t.
Catch Off the Cuff: Crime and Funishment at The Warren: Studio 3 (St Peter's Church North, York Place,
Brighton BN1 4GU), 11 th -14 th May at 8pm.
Tickets £9.50 (Concs £8) (Student £7), from https://www.brightonfringe.org/box-office/shows/view/cuff-crime-and- funishment
Twitter: @0ffTheCuff | Web: offthecuffcomedy.co.uk |