Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro!
This year's show sounds very different from previous years. Could you tell us more about it?
It is the story of my dad, opera and trying to find a bit of peace in an imperfect world.
Do you think your dad would have enjoyed the show?
My dad is still alive, though his illness - Progressive Supranuclear Palsy- makes it difficult for him to get out. The dementia and blindness that accompany PSP make it impossible for him to literally see the show and if he could I am not sure how much of it he would remember.
He was an extrovert and the larger than life and soul of any social gathering, so I think he'd enjoy any show where he was the centre of attention.
Was there much laughter in your house growing up? Did you make your dad laugh?
We had a family rule that there had to be at least one guffaw a day or eight smiles, two giggles and a chuckle. Smirks were not accepted.
Has it been difficult to shift your comedic focus from the political to the personal? Or are they the same thing in some ways?
All the shows are personal. I wander into various situations then try and work out what went on, whether it is the Israeli barrier, arms dealing or the right to protest. So this show is the same modus operandi except I want the people I talk about to like me at the end of it.
Is the Edinburgh Fringe really just a bloated, exploitative, corporate circlewank? It is, isn't it?
No, it is not just that. True, standup tends to dominate and some of the sponsorship, agents and TV folk can righty be described as a corporate jizz-fest with the IQ of a skid mark and the individuality of a French fry. But there are some remarkable performers and shows in the festival, from memory last year there was Dust (play about miner's strike), Spent (Canadian show about banking crisis), White Rabbit Red Rabbit (Iranian show about freedom, censorship and complicity), and Minsk 2011 from the Belarus Free Theatre.
These are all really impressive shows that completely disprove that the festival is "just a bloated, exploitative, corporate circlewank". Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson, Josie Long, Robin Ince et al surely fly in the face of that assumption too. There is some great stuff in Edinburgh during the fringe. I genuinely love seeing shows during the festival. It is just that cirlewanks tend to stand out.
You say your dad was a Thatcherite. What does he make of Cameron?
Hated him privately but approved of him if I were in the room.
Do you think satire in this country is doing an adequate job of the taking on the coalition?
We are in a situation where the most televised satirist in the country is called out by the ex Etonian PM for their hypocrisy and greed. And the PM gets the moral high ground. I would advocate the public horsewhipping of Jimmy Carr if I didn't think the horsewhip would be corrupted in the process.
The People's Manifesto was excellent, but did it increase your faith in democracy or did you find yourself wishing for a benevolent dictatorship, even a tiny bit?
Trouble with democracy is that it doesn't go far enough. We need recall, MP's on national average wage, no other jobs, no sponsorship, cut out lobbyists and change party funding, abolish House of Lords, proportional representation and that is just for starters. Then we go for democracy in the work place.
Finally, who else should people see at the Fringe?