Performer: David Mills Photograph by: David Windmill Show: David Mills: Focus People! Venue: Underbelly (Wee Coo) Promoter: Vivienne Smith Productions Online: Box Office Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
I’m sat on a bar stool observing the end of the world, pointing out the hilarious hypocrisies and unexpected joys of the apocalypse. In 2018 I turned 50 and became British. Clearly I’m having a mid-life crisis. I have to laugh, I have no alternative. Semi-automatic machine guns are illegal in Britain.
Tell me about your first gig.
My first proper stand-up gig was at Josie’s Cabaret and Juice Joint in San Francisco. On Monday nights they had new material / new comics night. There were about 20 comics and five audience members. We each had five minutes. I was terrible but Margaret Cho popped in to work out some new bit and she was brilliant.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
Not really. Sometimes, if it’s a really important gig, I pray to a God I only believe in when I need something. It’s less like praying and more like pleading.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
Honestly, reviews don’t stick with me very long. I don’t need a reviewer to tell me if my performance was great, shit or middling. I know as soon as I come off stage.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
There are a few reviewers who interest me, so if one of them comes, I’ll read it but most of the smaller stuff or online reviews I don’t really care about.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
In general I’m happy to ignore them but there are one or two I respect. I think they’re great writers or I’ve got inappropriately drunk with them at some party so I have affection for them.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
I’m a free speech absolutist so I don’t support laws that regulate speech. In my mind the concept of ‘freedom of speech’ is specifically about protecting offensive speech. At one time a group chanting ‘votes for women’ would have been offensive. I just think once you start regulating speech you open yourself up to having your own speech curtailed.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
Everything is game. Fashions and styles change so not everything will always land with every audience but that’s fine. I like a bit of frisson, a sharp intake of breath, followed by a surprised laugh. I like a comic that challenges his or her audience. There’s much more risk in that than in railing against the obvious villains of the day.
Have you ever gone too far?
Of course. That’s the nature of comedy. Sometimes I get it wrong but no one loses an eye. Maybe someone gets embarrassed or triggered but neither are mortal wounds. I do comedy for adults with a sense of humour. If you’re easily offended, I’d recommend one of the many children’s shows at the Fringe.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
I’ve had so many great gigs, some in shitty basements, others in big theatres. One of my recent favourites was at a small pub theatre in London, a preview in the run-up to this year’s Fringe. It went really great and I was so thrilled because we filmed it to make a video trailer so I could promote the show. The next day I got a call from the sound guy – the audio card broke and the recording was lost. The highs don’t last very long do they?