Arthur Smith on the Edinburgh festivals: “Nothing in the world is worse than a puffed-up comedian”

Arthur Smith will be at Pleasance Dome until 19 August  without Bill Clinton this time
Arthur Smith will be at Pleasance Dome until 19 August without Bill Clinton this time
Have your say

Arthur Smith: Syd is at Pleasance Dome until 19 August, 4:10pm. The comedian and writer tells us what he gets up to in August in Edinburgh.

I only have time to see one show in Edinburgh. Why should I go to yours?

Aw – I feel sorry for you. Can’t you fit in one other at least? My show will make you laugh, cry and consider what it means to be a man. Some beautiful songs including a couple of Leonard Cohen’s. Also, you get to see me in a genuine 1950s London bobby uniform – come back!

Now I think of it, I’ve got time to see two. What else should I definitely go to?

I am so glad I have persuaded you! I say go see Nick Doody: PG – funny man!

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

Getting arrested on my late-night tour of the Royal Mile was not good. The best was the night I met my partner in the heavenly hubbub of the Pleasance Bar.

Please describe where you’re living this month.

Not seen it yet, so I am imagining a flat in Holyrood Palace with a big balcony. I’m too old for the rat-infested slums of my early festival visits so it’ll be clean and, I gather, near the Meadows (hurrah!). My flat-mates are my musical director and lead Smithereen Kirsty Newton and her charming husband – fortunately they know what a messy sod I am.

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

Often I escape the clamour of the festival and head alone to the bench at the back of Bauks View, the small public patch of green near the Pleasance.

I sit there and consider how I might improve my show, remember some Edinburgh adventures and gaze at Salisbury Crags looming deliciously in front of me …

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

In my show I talk about my father’s time as a POW in Colditz Castle in Germany. The daughter of one of his fellow-prisoners is coming so I am looking forward to meeting her afterwards.

I like to talk to members of my audience and hang out with fellow comics – though not if their shows are going too well. Nothing in the world is worse than a puffed-up comedian.

Where can I find you at 9am, 9pm and 2am?

9am – asleep (what do you think I am, an accountant?)

9pm – probably watching a show or sitting at Bauks View (see above).

2am –ministering to sundry drunks

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I once spent three days in Havana with Arthur Scargill. And I had Bill Clinton as my support act. Really.

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

I think, “Eh? What is all this? Oh yes, I am some kind of sentient creature. What am I doing today? Oh yes. Might have another quick snooze before I get up properly …”

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

I fill in a Q & A from The Scotsman. Doesn’t everybody?

I’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?

On the advice of my pancreas and liver I don’t drink booze any more – fancy a late afternoon tea in Princes Street Gardens?