Dominic Holland’s new stand up show ‘Eclipsed’ will be at the Voodoo Rooms Ballroom at 4.40pm for the month of August on the Free Fringe. We caught up with him to find out a little more about the man behind the microphone.
Please tell us about your brand of comedy.
I just talk about the funny things in my life and the idea is that my observations reflect the lives of my audience – so people are really laughing at themselves. This is the theory anyway and I am aware that in print, that it doesn’t appear to be very funny. But it is and I am definitely funny…
What can audiences expect from your new show?
A film is funny if the audience laugh out loud a couple of times. In half that time, I will make people laugh out loud every minute. On this, you can audit me and I venture that not many comedians will ever use the word ‘audit’ in any of their publicity questionnaires such as this one.
Which comedians have been your biggest influence since you decided this was your path?
Ben Elton was the first stand-up I saw doing what I wanted to do. He came to Leeds University already well known as a writer after The Young Ones but not so much as a stand-up. We crammed in to a hall, probably a thousand students, sitting on the floor expectantly and he duly delivered. For two hours, the room roared and shook with laughter at a man not telling jokes but making observations. I was completely blown away and why Ben hosting the Royal Variety Show on which I appeared was extra special for me.
Growing up, I was always enthralled by Ronnie Barker. He made my dad howl with laughter which always intrigued me and he had the rare gift of being as good a performer as he was a writer. Meeting Ronnie and sharing our love of all things funny remains the proudest moment in my career.
And latterly, I admire Bill Burr. Burr is brave and skillful enough to articulate things that people might think but would never dare to say for fear of the thought police. A hilarious and welcome anti-dote to the moralizing and virtue signaling of too many of our modern-day ‘comedians’.
What random things make you laugh in everyday life?
I must say that I am rather partial to funny dog videos. The Labrador being caught digging up his garden and then lying on the evidence. Happy to watch this over and over. But I draw the line at pain videos; people snapping their legs falling off a skateboard, that kind of thing.
Please tell us about your best and worst moment on stage so far?
My worst moment is very clear in my mind. Back stage at The Glee, Cardiff and Mick Ferry is on stage and about to introduce me. I can hear Mick but behind the curtains, I can’t see him and so I listen to him bantering with a pregnant lady in the front row – and then I am introduced and on stage myself. The lights, the nerves, I am looking to settle and immediately I spot the pregnant and I offer my congratulations only she doesn’t seem so playful anymore. And then to my left I spot a very attractive woman who is very obviously very pregnant. Turns out that the lady I had congratulated is just a fat lady. My apology only makes things worse.
As for my best moment? Well, as tough a career as being funny is – I need to think that my best moments are ahead – it’s what keeps comics at it!
Do you still get nervous when you do a gig?
Always and even for the little gigs. I don’t mean debilitating nerves. But enough nerves so I can do what is required of me. Doing stand-up is not normal. People fear public speaking above all other things and I am no different. Because I can think of funny things to say does not mean I enjoy public speaking and so I think nerves are an important part of being a good comic. But it is better now than it was. Over the years, my nerves have abated which is a good thing because they used to be terrible. When I did the Stand Up Show on BBC1, I can remember standing in the wings with a toilet roll under each arm to absorb the sweat that was pouring out of me. Nowadays when I encounter young comics in green rooms and they appear nerveless, I am slightly resentful because where is their terror? They’ve just started, they should be terrified.
Why is Edinburgh Fringe Festival such a great platform for comedians?
When I started doing comedy in the 90’s, the comedy circuit was electric; full of clubs and pub gigs that were packed throughout the year and this presented me with a platform to quite quickly become a professional stand-up. And by professional, I mean being able to make comedy my sole source of income – which it has been since I was 23. And even then with this robust circuit, the Edinburgh fringe was vitally important for career progression. Choose any stand-up and the chances are, their break came in Edinburgh. Izzard, Skinner, Evans, Kitson, Murray, Hill, dare-I-say-it, Holland… The awards that I won in Edinburgh have helped me enormously and my Radio Four stand up show which still provides me with work today came directly out of Edinburgh. And so now with such a depleted comedy club circuit, the importance of Edinburgh is even more acute.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?
In no order – Kai Humphries because he’s a lovely lad and the story he has to tell is remarkable and as worthy and affirming as anything that can be seen elsewhere on the fringe. Tom Binns because he always makes me laugh. Jimmy McGhie who would be a much more successful comedian if he wasn’t so annoyingly good looking and Jimeoin, the only comic I know who pauses more than I do. For my liking, there are not enough pauses on the fringe. It takes guts to pause (and it must be said, a possible lack of material).
What is your advice to aspiring comedians?
Give up. There are too many of us already. Or the serious answer – be different. However you do it, be different and realise that being young and new is where it is at – and no one is young for long – or for long enough anyway.
What is next for you?
Grandkids I guess and possibly an allotment. I’ve enquired but I haven’t yet put my name down or anything like that.
Oh, and I would love to be able to take my show, Eclipsed on the road. All the way round the UK doing little theatres and arts houses. That would be great. I could maybe hire a caravan…
Dominic Holland’s new stand up show ‘Eclipsed’ will be at the Voodoo Rooms Ballroom at 4.40pm for the month of August on the Free Fringe.