Comedy at the Fringe: Des Clarke

Des Clarke has put his arse on the line for Scotland

Feature by Bernard O'Leary | 03 Aug 2011
  • Des Clarke

“It’s one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time,” he explains, of his offer to Capital FM listeners of a forfeit if Andy Murray was going to win Wimbledon. “The listeners decided I should wear a tennis dress and have a photo taken in that famous Athena pose. So I’ll be doing that now, probably in some disused Glasgow tennis court in the pissing rain. There’s one in Kelvingrove Park, though that could bring its own dangers”

Clarke is telling us this from a hotel dining room in Leeds, while trying to prevent fellow comic Joe Heenan from stealing his breakfast. It’s a typical weekend for Clarke who still does up to 150 live shows a year despite the 4.30am starts required for his radio show. Why does he put himself through it all? “Stand-up is what got me here and I’ve always made time for it. And it’s something you have to be match fit for. If you even go a couple of weeks without a comedy gig, it’s weird. You feel nervous going back on and your timing gets out of sync. Most of my energy comes from feeding off the live crowd. I’m mainly motivated by fear and sheer panic.” It sounds like Clarke still considers himself a stand-up comedian first and foremost. “I do. Everything else is a bonus.”

Like all gigging comedians, Clarke is in full preparation mode for the Edinburgh Fringe. This year’s Des Comedy Jam follows up last year’s Clarxism and continues his love for puns based on his name (only the possibility of legal action made him decide against calling it Desneyland). He’s been one of the most prominent Scottish acts at recent festivals. Does it sometimes feel that local acts get crowded out at the Fringe?

“People have always complained about that, but I think some of that chat seems a bit old hat now.  The bulk of the audience is Scottish and if other people want to come to Scotland, that’s great. It’s important though that Scottish acts keep performing at the Fringe, or else we will end up handing the festival over.”

Clarke urges people to go out and support local acts during the Fringe. Seeing as he’s willing to bare his arse in Kelvingrove Park in the name of Scottish pride, it’s the least you can do.


Des Comedy Jam, Gilded Balloon Teviot,6-29 August  (not 10 or 17) Tickets from £6.