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How I Direct Shows: My Edinburgh Fringe Stand-up Shows 2023

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Here are the shows I worked on as director and dramaturge this year and I also decribe how I work on shows as a director.

I directed a number of stand-up shows for Edinburgh 2023. As I wrote about in my book A Director's Guide to the Art of Stand-up, this is as much about organising, editing and punching up material, and structuring the show as it is about giving notes on performance. As it's not a classic rehearsal process as you'd have for a play, a lot of the work can happen on Zoom and I'll often be watching preview videos of shows. Here I talk about the shows and discuss how I worked on them.


I have worked with Stefania Licari over two years now on her show Medico, which returned to the Fringe, this time at Underbelly, in an updated version. The show features stand-up, songs and something else beginning with S (sass?) from Stefania as she explores being an Italian NHS hospital doctor and comic - plus the audience learn medical skills at no extra charge!

The show was devised by the two of us in a process where we'd meet in the rehearsal room (in London and Stroud) with ideas where she had a feeling for what she wanted to say but no script or definite content at the outset. Stefania improvised stuff based around the ideas she'd come in with. I'd comment on her improv, giving notes and suggestions, then she'd go again. Once we'd found something we liked, we videoed the piece that resulted.

Stefania went away and wrote up what we'd done as a script which I then edited and rewrote - and Stefania further rewrote. Then we'd bring the script back into the room to further work on the performance and material and would also begin work on an entirely new bit, building the show up in this way through a series of shorter sections. Stefania also got other eyes on the material to bring a fresh perspective as we gathered all the content together. Once we had the basis of the show we then worked on the structure, previewing it multiple times ahead of Edinburgh where I'd watch videos of the show (and be there in person where I could) and feedback notes and direction.

ZOOM & IN PERSON: SAM DAY "THE BOOBY TRAP"/ CECILIA DELATORI "ROCK SPINSTER" The body comes up as a topic in Stefania's show, and I worked on another show about a pair of very specific body parts, namely The Booby Trap with superb stand-up Sam Day. This high concept show was focused entirely on the subject of breasts! Sam had a clear idea of what she wanted to say, and already had a fair bit of material. I helped Sam organise and select her material, edit and structure it and I also suggested other areas she might explore like the representation of the female body in art history - which led to a very funny section in the show.

With this show we did a series of sessions on Zoom where I helped Sam with the material and structure. Then we did a number of sessions in person in a rehearsal room in Stroud where I directed her performance, and I was also able to organise a scratch audience who came in and gave their thoughts ahead of a series of preview shows. Sam's show ended up being one of the Amused Moose Comedy Award's 'Super Seven' shows for Edinburgh 2023.

I also worked with Cecilia Delatori on her show Rock Spinster. We met via Zoom and also in cafes in London and Edinburgh. In this case Cecilia had a bunch of comedy songs and a new ambition. She had for a long time sang her comedy songs accompanying herself on acoustic guitar and ukele - but now she wanted to do a show where she played electric guitar! I helped her shape the concept for the show and playing with the image of a rather sensible looking and single middle aged lady with an electric guitar strapped to her, suggested the show's name "Rock Spinster". Cecilia has also previously presented her songs as a disconnected sequence, but I worked with her to create a narrative for the show which made for a much more satisfying whole.


I was very happy to once again work with terrific stand-up Phil Green on his follow up to the show I developed with him last year, "90s Boy" (nominated for Best Edinburgh Debut Show in the Amused Moose Comedy Awards 2022). This year's show wass Four Weddings and a Breakdown - again I title I suggested - and you can guess what it's about. And like last year's show it includes several references to the Sugarbabes (the boy is obsessed). As in 2022 we worked entirely on Zoom, with Phil sending me videos of previews and then meeting me online to receive feedback on material, structure and performance.

So there's a range of ways I can work on shows. Please do get in touch if you'd like to discuss me helping with your show for Edinburgh for elsewhere. Here's more info. I also have lots of great advice (even if I do say so myself on doing a full legth show (or 'special') in my book "A Director's Guide to the Art of Stand-up".

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