+3 Interview: Bilal Zafar – Lovebots

“A hairless cat wondered into my room through my window … it took me 30 seconds to even figure out what it was.”

WHO: Bilal Zafar, Writer / performer

WHAT: “Best Newcomer nominee 2016 and Hackney Empire (NATYS) winner is back with a brand-new show! Social media has been taken over by bots spreading hate, fear and influencing how we vote. In Lovebots, Bilal has made his own bots to fight back, except these bots only want to spread love and compassion. As seen/heard on BBC Three, Channel 4, MTV, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Radio 4. ‘Witty and absorbing… highly entertaining’ (Times). ‘Delivers big laughs’ (Guardian). ‘A natural storyteller with a very likeable stage presence’ ***** (Shortcom.co.uk).”

WHERE: Just the Tonic at The Mash House – Just the Cask Room (Venue 288) 

WHEN: 15:45 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Nope, this is my third show in a row. The first one was nominated for an award, the second wasn’t but I still like it. This is the third which will be completing a little trilogy of shows that are predominantly about social media and how it affects our lives. I’m very excited to be back.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

I got to record my latest show for BBC Radio 4. I loved getting an opportunity like that and it all went a lot better than I expected. Apart from that, a hairless cat wondered into my room through my window and it took me 30 seconds to even figure out what it was.

Tell us about your show.

I always write my stuff, although this year I have a director for the first time and it’s my friend Josie Long. The show is all about how we have been manipulated in recent Western elections with twitter bots and all sorts of other scary stuff. In my show, I’ll be trying to fix the world by creating my own bots that only spread love and compassion. I have been previewing it around the UK and will hopefully be taking it around the country as a finished tour show.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Trevor Lock. He does the same show every year but it’s heavily improvised. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and it’s free!


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+3 Interview: Archie Maddocks: Matchstick

“It’s all been upwards in the last twelve months.”

WHO: Archie Maddocks, Performer/Comedian

WHAT: “Award-winning Archie Maddocks presents an hour of biting, provocative, unflinchingly funny comedy where he explores his deepest and darkest thoughts, exposes his flaws and interrogates his personal connection to Grenfell Tower. Fresh from a stint in the BBC Writersroom, having previously toured South Africa and Europe, this ‘super cool, super smart storyteller’ (Bruce Dessau, BeyondTheJoke.co.uk and Evening Standard) hilariously explores life, love and loss with a candid authenticity, marking him out as a ‘real highlight’ (BBC Introducing).”

WHERE: Just the Tonic at The Mash House – Just the Snifter Room (Venue 288) 

WHEN: 13:55 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is my fifth year in a row, but third show, if that makes sense? I was up before doing compilation shows and stuff, but this is my third hour long show. I personally love the madness of it all, running in to people you don’t get to see as often as you’d like, drunken emotional conversations at 3 in the morning on a staircase, having literally no idea what day or time it is most of the time. For me, Edinburgh is basically the most stressful holiday, you get away from everything, but you’re also in the midst of the most creative community there is. I love it. My waistline and liver says it don’t love me though…

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

This year I’ve progressed a lot in the TV world, writing wise. I’m also a playwright, and since the last festival, I’m formally in development with five of the biggest production companies in the UK, have written an episode for TV on a greenlit series, and written a feature film for a massive company with a view to shoot soon, I was also in the BBC Writers Room, 4Screenwriting programme and was named the BBC Writer in residence – it’s been fucking hectic. With Stand-Up, I played Soho Theatre for the first time (all because of the Edinburgh show in 2017, IlluminArchie) and filmed a special in Norway, along with playing the biggest gigs in the country and fronting an online documentary for The Hook, which is going to be released in the next few months. It’s all been upwards in the last twelve months. I’m very aware that the fall is probably beckoning around the corner though. For now, I’m just grateful I can afford Nutella everyday.

Tell us about your show.

This show is about me growing into myself. Personally, it’s been one of the saddest years of my life, but also one of the most joyful – which I guess is what life is about, managing the ups and the downs and not getting drowned in either wave of optimism or pessimism. I’m more aware of what I think now, I’m more grounded in myself – and I’m also angrier than I’ve ever been at the state of things around me. This show, and how wanky is this, actually ‘means something’ (I feel like such a prick for writing that) and, while I’m never proud of anything I do (minus eating a 5kg tub of Nutella in 4 hours) this is the closest I’ve come to actually being me and being truthful on stage.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Obviously, see my show. Apart from that… I would say get lost and just stumble into things. Go and see something you don’t think you’ll like, watch something mad and experimental – go and see someone you hate to see if your mind can be changed and your horizons shifted. I think we tend to go and see things we’ll know we’ll like too much, and that’s great, but sometimes it’s good to see what you don’t like and why. I, for example, didn’t know I wasn’t a fan of someone ramming their hand up their arse, all the way up to the elbow (!) and then licking it clean until I saw it. But I did see it, and now I know I ain’t a fan of that shit (not a pun. Is that a pun? I don’t think I know what a pun is).


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+3 Interview: Jack Barry: You Don’t Know Jack

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“I wanted to be in the Cambridge Footlights, but was too think.”

WHO: Jack Barry – Head Honcho

WHAT: “Who the f*ck is Jack Barry? Come and watch him figure it out in this show about identity and quarter-life crises. Tour support for Joe Lycett, Patrick Kielty and James Acaster.”

WHERE: Just the Tonic at The Mash House (Venue 288)

WHEN: 18:40 (55 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No. This is my seventh year at the fringe. I’ve been coming since I was a student and used to do sketch comedy with the Leeds Tealights (I wanted to be in the Cambridge Footlights, but was too think.)

Since then I’ve been working on my skills as a stand up, appearing in the Comedy Reserve and Comedy Zone showcases. This year I’m performing my second solo hour. I’m also doing my third show as part of double act Twins, with Annie McGrath.

Tell us about your show.

I wrote it, I produced it, I’m performing it and the company is me. The company came together earlier this year when I was poor couldn’t afford anyone else to produce it for me. I didn’t do everything though, the wonderful Nick Helm has helped to direct me, shape it into a proper show and given me numerous pep talks over the last few months. I’ve been previewing it for some time, all over the country but have no idea what will happen to it after the fringe.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I’ve only seen one show far and it was my friend Mat Ewins. He is a comedy genius and his show is amazing. However, he hasn’t bought any flyers or done any promotion this year, so make sure you don’t miss it.

I’ve also previewed with Fin Taylor, his show is amazing this year and everyone should see it. I also can’t wait to see Sean McLoughlin’s now show. His show last year was my favourite thing I saw.


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