“Deep down, it’s about how we become our own heroes.” | Aaron Twitchen on the heartbreaks and hangovers behind Can’t Stop A Rainbow

Tell us about your show, Can’t Stop A Rainbow.

The last solo show I created was a comedy show with aerial circus. It was the first ever stand up comedy/aerial silk fusion show. It was a big, loud, crazy show and I loved it.

What I found afterwards, lots of people (comics mainly) kept saying “Oh, so you’re a cabaret act now. You don’t do stand up?”. I’d just written an hour of jokes and told them whilst flying through the sky and hanging my neck. And you don’t think I do stand up? So this show is proving just that – there’s no tricks, no music, no costumes. Just me and a microphone.

It’s all about friendship, love and wine. But really, deep down, it’s a show about gay rights and how we as individuals become our own heroes in society. I didn’t intend to write a gay show (despite calling it Rainbow and wearing a crop top on the poster) but it naturally happened. Audiences responded really well… even if some of them did expect me to whip off my trousers and fly from the ceiling. 

What inspired the show?

I was living in Birmingham, which is a city I love. Everyone talks about New York being the city that never sleeps. Well, Birmingham is the city that loves a lie in. It’s got everything you need but it’s chilled out. There is a real sense of community and I always thought it a safe city, in terms of minorities.

Then there was a big protest at a school running an anti-bullying programme. People were actively campaigning against children learning about different minorities – predominantly gays – and it was happening on my doorstep. I just felt I couldn’t take a step back and not do something. And thus, the show was born. 

Wine makes an appearance in the show. What kind of misadventures can audiences expect?

I L.O.V.E a wine. I tend to drink a Malbec now (it’s the red one) but I’m not snobby at all. If its over 10% and under £7, I’m having it. All this rubbish in wine bars when it says “The wine is made with ouija berries, from the hilltops of France, with a whisp of wander and a hint of pretension”. Don’t tell me that; just tell me how strong it is. How much do I need to drink to forget? If I wanted the taste, I’d have a Vimto. 

This show is built around a Heartbreak Hotel Holiday we took to Egypt. It was all inclusive, so I sobered up just long enough to go to the gym twice. There’s stories about politics at a pool party, an inflatable unicorn, and a 9 hour bus trip to the pyramids. All involve wine, naturally. 

You address love and friendship in your show. Has writing and performing it taught you anything about relationships you can share with us?

I’m crazy obsessed with friendships. When I’m stressed or sad I watch Little Mix interviews and cry at the way they support each other (I know, how am I single!). It comes from being Generation Spice Girl and seeing the power that they had and how quickly that imploded. 

I’m really lucky that I have friends both in and out of the business, both of which I’ve known for a long time. My favourite part of any Fringe is having them there with me and in the audience. My shows are always really personal so its great when they agree that you’ve been honest. 

I don’t think we value friendship enough. There is such a focus on finding your one soulmate, husband, partner – and I think that often comes at the expense of friendship. I really try and nurture my friendships because they’re the only things you can really rely on. 

You took this show to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. How did your run go?

Edinburgh this year was great – but a weird one. I had my biggest successes but also my lowest misses. I signed with a new agent, wrote a show I’m proud of and had amazing responses from audiences who have come back year on year.

At the same time, I was sleeping on a bed in a kitchen for a month. At an insane cost. My head was pretty much in the toaster. 

I think it’s important to talk about how hard Edinburgh is. Especially this year. I know acts, great acts, who had low audience numbers. Who worked the streets, did the showcases, put up posters – did everything right – but still had low numbers. I was lucky; it started quiet and really built but I do think the bubble has started to burst.

The festival is amazing but the rental prices (for audiences and visitors) have gotten to a point of unsustainability. The cost of 4 days in the city is the same as a week in Ibiza. 

Where does your upbeat style of comedy come from?

Humour has always been a huge part of my family. The Twitchens aren’t much for talking about emotions so everything is done with a joke. At my grandad’s funeral, my Uncle Martin told a story about the Christmas tree. My grandad loved to garden and would trim a tree to within an inch of its life. Barely a branch of needle on there. It’s the funniest thing I think I’ve ever listened to. 

I just love that, even in the saddest times, there can be humour. One of my favourite places is the hospital. Sounds macabre but you’re with the people that matter the most and everything else is suspended. I think being upbeat in those times just relieves that tiny bit of pressure to make it bearable.

What do you hope people take away from your show?

In the first instance – funny. Always. But there’s a lot more to think about in this show. About how we position ourselves in society and the kind of role models we want to be. 

Other than that, I’m single, so if any mortgage-ready, marriage-material guys want to take away my phone number; I won’t be stopping them. 

Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Nottingham Comedy Festival?

One of my besties lives in Nottingham so I will be with her 3-year-old. This means I will have to watch Cinderella. Probably 5 times. She particularly likes Rags Cinderella. We have to skip back when she is in the dress. 

Other than that my good friends Rob Kemp, Paul Revill and Freddie Farrell are playing, so of course I will recommend him. Sarah Johnson is also amazing. But we clash, so I will only be meeting her for post (maybe pre) show wines. 

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into comedy?

Just do it. I spent a long time in my early 20’s wanting to perform but being too scared of failing – like people would someone how judge me for not succeeding. When in reality, people don’t notice you fail. They’re too caught up in their own dramas. And the minute you get a tiny bit of success people lose their minds. 

There’s lots of rejection in this. The best advice I was ever given was to aim for 100 rejections – that is apply for 100 things, keeping a chart (I L.O.V.E an excel spreadsheet, so this is heaven for me) and expect to be rejected 100 times. When you flip the aim – from success to failure – you aim for things you never thought you’d get and sometimes do. That’s probably good advice for anything, actually.

Aaron is performing Can’t Stop A Rainbow on November 2nd.

Find out more about the Nottingham Comedy Festival here.

You can keep up with Aaron’s other projects by checking out his website or following him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.