My Festival: Reuben Kaye

The Australian comedian on late-night encounters, his Fringe home and what he’s looking forward to most about being back in Edinburgh.

Reuben Kaye. Pic: Jax Moussa
Reuben Kaye. Pic: Jax Moussa

What are you doing at this year’s festival?

Proving my parents were wrong and my therapist was very right. I’ve got two shows here, both at Checkpoint: The Butch Is Back and my late night club night The Kaye Hole. And I’ve brought my band The Close Contacts with me. I’m finally coming back! It’s been two long years away from this festival so I’m coming back with both barrels blazing (but my pharmacist has prescribed a cream for that).

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

The audiences. That’s my main focus this year. I mean, yes, the arts is a community and I could donate this moment to promoting other artists. But the Tories have made it clear it’s every man for himself so I‘m implementing it here! What I miss most are the crowds, the atmosphere, the excitement! As Gloria Swanson said [in Sunset Boulevard]: “It’s just us… and all those wonderful people out there in the dark!” However she did shoot a man and then get sectioned, so I may have to rethink this answer.

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

I’ve got two.

On stage at Checkpoint – it’s an old abandoned church with great acoustics and the vibe is electric. You can’t beat it, though many have tried.

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The stumble home through the Meadows, drunk, happy in the crisp air, and trying not to fall on an unconscious acrobat.

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

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A licensed pharmacologist with loose ethics.

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

Given the last two years I can’t even remember last week. My first Edinburgh show was like being shot through with 4000 volts. It’s the high we keep chasing in a way. It was at Checkpoint which is now my home venue in Edinburgh and it catapulted me into a career and a world I can’t live without now.

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

The Best? Easy. I met the love of my life here. He was the best 30 seconds in an alleyway at 2am I’ve ever had. The worst? That’s also easy. It’s the day after the final night when you’re walking home and start seeing your posters come down, the venue packed and you realise it’s over for another year.

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

As someone who already day drinks and masturbates to an unhealthy degree, lockdowns didn’t really affect me… But I think as a global population it gave us all a sense of community and simultaneously divided us all more than we thought it would.

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Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I can read.

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

Ask him what his name is.

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

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Forget what his name is.

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

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Take me to Panda & Sons and I want a Mezcal Tommy’s Margarita so strong it could dehorn an elk. See you at Checkpoint!

Reuben Kaye: The Butch is Back, Assembly Checkpoint, 9.30pm, until 28 August (except Mondays and Tuesdays). The Kaye Hole, Assembly Checkpoint, 11.40pm, weekends only. Taste Australia with Reuben Kaye, House of Oz, 15 August, 8pm