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
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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?