My Festival: Andrew Maxwell

The voluble Irish stand-up who has brought his own volcano to the Fringe looks back on his many Edinburgh highs (and a smelly low)

What are you doing at this year’s festival?

I’m performing my show Krakatoa at the Gilded Balloon at 9.30pm. It’s a stand-up comedy show but it also has an interactive volcano. If anybody shouts Krakatoa, the volcano goes off. People have asked me why, and I’ve said because it’s the largest arts festival in the world. And I can.

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What do you most want to see this year and why?

Andrew Maxwell
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World peace, because it’s a big show and it’s not selling very well. I also want to see this stretch of sunshine last, it’s been the absolute icing on the cake. Granted, it is a bit of a shame that the rest of the planet has to burn to death to make Scotland habitable, but nevertheless it is a treat for us Fringers who have been stood in the rain for generations waiting for the sun to appear.

What’s your favourite place in the city and why?

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On a sunny day, it has to be the Meadows. It's like a wonderful inland beach.

For a simple get-away-from-it-all, climbing up to the top of Arthur's Seat and then sauntering down the other side to have a nice quiet drink and a bit of food in the beer garden of the Sheep’s Heid, Scotland’s oldest pub.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?

Well, I basically have two teams of friends in this world. I have my friends that I grew up with in Dublin, and I have my Fringe buddies, so that’s who I like to hang out with. They’re a weird group of men and women who are willing to tolerate me drunk and talking shit at any hour of the day.

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What do you remember about your first ever Edinburgh festival appearance?

I performed around midnight every day down at the Cowgate. It was nuts but it was really fun. I shared a bill with Ed Byrne and Kevin Hayes and the show was called Young, Gifted and Green. It was the early 1990s and suddenly Irish people weren’t scary, they were popular and it was the easiest-selling show of my entire Fringe career.

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What are the best and worst things that have happened to you in Edinburgh?

The best… I suppose the most extraordinary experience was that we used to have a late night show called Full Mooners. It was a howling cult where I would dress up as a hip-hop Count Dracula, I had my own hip-hop crew and I made everybody howl at the moon. On the full moon one year we burnt a wicker man in the car park at the top of Arthur's Seat. The worst one... any day when you’re hungover and it’s raining which, with respect to all the Scottish people reading this, we all know that happens quite a few times. Actually, one year I was performing in a cave and the sewage system backed up so I was in a pooey cave.

How was lockdown for you? Did it change you, and if so how?

I now have a basic smattering of all the trades; carpentry, a lot of wood-based stuff, a lot of plumbing and some basic electrical work. But I suppose what mostly changed in my life was that we made another Maxwell. I thought “if my wife’s going to have to be trapped with me in a house for the foreseeable future, I’d better put my best foot forward and present her with the very best Maxwell possible”.

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Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I can be shy sometimes.

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What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I have a good old yawn and a stretch and really take it all on board. I don’t like to leap out of bed, Then I reach for my phone and find out if we’ve won the war on Ukraine.

And what’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Smile as I fall into a deep, deep slumber.

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Thanks for the interview! We’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?

We’re going to any of the fabulous beer gardens of the Edinburgh Fringe 2022 and mine’s a hipster lager please.

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Andrew Maxwell: Krakatoa, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 9.30pm, until 29 August (not 25)