With an upcoming tour of his acclaimed show from Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Don’t Believe A Word, we caught up with musician, comedian and author Mitch Benn. The show will be starting in London and venturing across the nation, so we got all the info on the comedy sketch, Benn’s influences and his plans for his writing career.
You’re starting a rather extensive tour of England in the next few weeks. Are you looking forward to it?
Yes, touring is always fun as you’re playing to an audience which has made the deliberate decision to come and see you, which is by no means always the case in the clubs.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played, and why?
Depends what you mean by best… first time I played the comedy stage at Glastonbury was pretty memorable.
The show you’re taking on the road is called Don’t Believe A Word. What can you tell us about it?
It’s my skepticism show. It’s about figuring out what’s true, what’s not and how to treat them accordingly. Goes into some fairly contentious areas as you can imagine but it’s been very popular so far.
You originally presented Don’t Believe A Word at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. The Festival is often seen as a rite of passage for aspiring comedians and you have performed there several times. How did you find it?
I’ve been playing Edinburgh, doing various different things for over 25 years now; I think it’s a good idea to have a specific objective in mind when you go up. For me it’s about creating and honing a new show I can then take out on tour.
Would you say you prefer performing at festivals or touring at more conventional gig venues?
They’re all fun in different ways; I try to concentrate on enjoying whatever I’m doing at the moment.
A lot of the music you play has a humorous bent to it, and you are obviously a talented musician. Do you ever see yourself performing in a less satirical manner?
Might yet happen; the thing about the Internet is an artist can put an album out which is maybe a radical departure from their usual stuff as a download-only album at no great risk to themselves. If people want it it’s there. If they don’t, you haven’t wasted any money printing it up.
Everything Sounds Like Coldplay
Directed by Adam Bromley
Video via Youtube
Who would you say your main influences are, as both a musican and a comedian?
My inspiration as a comic songwriter is Tom Lehrer [American satirist and an academic popular in the 50s & 60s]; with one possible exception I’ve never tried to write like him, rather he’s the standard I aspire to.
You released a science fiction novel in 2013 called Terra, with a sequel entitled Terra’s World (Terra 2) released last year. Where did the inspiration to write the books come from?
I’ve been a huge sci-fi fan all my life. I’d always wanted to write a book and the opportunity presented itself a few years ago. The story itself was inspired by my relationship with my daughter Greta.
Do you have any plans to write any more novels in the future?
Working on the third Terra book and a completely unrelated SF book, just depends on which one I can get published first.
What musical acts would you recommend our readers check out?
Jay Foreman is a terrific comic songwriter and keeps getting better. Laurence Owen’s new stuff is amazing. Pippa Evans… in London my band and I run The Distraction Club, which is an all musical comedy night. It’s great finally getting to see lots of new musical comics as they tend to keep us apart on the club circuit.
Why do you think people should come and see your shows?
Because they’ll have a great time and I need to feed my kids.
Any last words for the fans?