CW: Mention of suicide.
Tell us about the show you’re bringing to the Vault Festival, Hurst Schmurst.
Hurst Schmurst is my debut full length show, which means that it’s about an hour long. It’s filled with my finest songs, loop pedal nonsense and a puppet that is the physical embodiment of my self-doubt, so there’s something for everyone.
After a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year it’s on a little tour of sorts, a mini tour, which I decided to call a minortour, because a pun that implies a bull headed monster trapped in a maze just really helps to make those tickets fly.
The good people at Vault festival have been kind enough to invite Hurst Schmurst to take part in their festival at the Crypt on the 1st February at 7.20pm
Your show explores the question “What’s the deal with Edy Hurst?” What made you want to write such a personal show?
The first show I made was called Theme Show and was shorter and all about making the world’s greatest theme park live on stage in under an hour, and after a big daft silly show I knew I wanted to do something a bit more personal.
Over the past few years I’ve started to address mental health issues I’ve experienced for all my adult life, and a fair amount of time at school, through a range of therapies and medication types.
One thing I’ve never really done on stage is be honest and personal, in day to day life a lot too really, instead shrouding myself in irony. So it felt like a genuine creative and personal challenge to open up, especially about a topic that many people are becoming more aware of within themselves and one that we should be having sincere and honest conversations rather than brushing aside with flippant remarks.
Plus it was easier to sell than just an hour of musical comedy.
Just how existential does the personal insight get in this show?
Well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers *winks to the audience* but from a content point of view it’s worth mentioning that it discusses suicide attempts by myself.
I mean ideally from time to time I think if I could just not exist, that would be superb. Like in It’s a Wonderful Life when they see what the world would be like without them there, that would be the choice. But time travel and all that gets in the way so there needs to be more practical means.
I’m fine now, or I’m better. I worry about making a narrative of recovery when you’re discussing mental health, as if all of a sudden you’re alright and now can talk about it. That just feels unrealistic and cheapens what many people experience. As anyone who experiences mental health problems will know, it’s not like you can just reset a head like you can a broken leg. (Not to belittle the suffering of broken bones but c’mon I’ve had to pick something physical to make the comparison so don’t @ me plz.)
I don’t think that complete cure exists, you learn to cope with symptoms better and you can get into a better place in life which might have been a contributing factor. I’m in a much better place now which makes me feel more comfortable talking about it. But getting help is great and if anyone is struggling definitely do it, but much to my disappointment you don’t get into a room with a wizard and they just fix the chemical imbalance or the bad emotional lessons in your brain by waving their staff.
So quite existential? I guess? The show is largely about me justifying why I’m on stage, and also therefore why I’m living.
What is your trick to balancing emotional depth with your light and whimsical style of comedy?
Well, my trick within Hurst Schmurst I guess is that I slowly build up to it, because I didn’t want it to be a show explicitly about mental health. It’s a personal point of view as I don’t feel like I’m a spokesperson for all mental health sufferers, I’m just me and I only really know myself (sorta).
The main issue and contention in the show is why anyone would bother making light and silly stuff in the face of the horrorscape that is life, and what on earth they would do to justify that – particularly as a white twenty-something heteronormative cisgender man, given that there’s been such a cultural monopoly on their perspectives.
I’m not sure there’s particular trick as much as a hope that by being honest and sincere in both light and darkness and meaning what I say that that’s conveyed to an audience and both feel like something I genuinely care about and what people to enjoy.
How did you get into musical comedy?
Musical comedy crept into my bizarre surreal stand up. My first set mostly revolved around gaining control of worms and using it to attack the financial district of an undisclosed town. As you might guess, starting out performing comedy in Yorkshire where many early experiences involve country pubs offering a curry and comedy night, this had a mixed response.
I found that by doing music and songs, I could do my weird abstract comedy and it gave a bit of a step for audiences to relate to it more. By having the song, the fact that I’m talking complete nonsense was alright as they could get on board with the song and then get to enjoy the weirdness.
Also, because it’s such a stricter form of comedy, there’s a lot of room to play around with the preconceptions which I really like.
What do you hope people take away from your show?
What would be great is if they take away that they’re not alone on this earth and that we’re all just doing our best with limited resources so to maybe be a little more empathetic, compassionate and understanding of the internal things others might be going through.
Failing that, just have a nice time and maybe one of the sock puppets at the end.
Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Vault Festival?
Peter Fleming is a superb children’s television producer who’s new show I can’t wait to see, which is on the same day as mine but at 5pm so there’s plenty of time to see both!
Also Sam Nicoresti’s show UFO is mad and brilliant on the 5th March
Jack Britton is a theater maker and fellow loop pedaller who’s show Mighty is really beautiful and also a very sneaky way to look deeper into hatred and prejudice that it would appear on the surface. That’s on the 4th – 5th February
There’s also Helen Duff, Sean McLoughlin, Ali Woods, the LOL word, Nich Elleray, Katie Pritchard – I could just end up listing the whole festival here as it’s all great, and because it’s on for so long there’s such an awesome range of different styles and genres.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into comedy?
Eugh, do you have to? I mean that sounds a bit flippant, but actually it’s worth thinking good, long and hard about it. Think about what it is about comedy that you love and want to do. Stand up in particular (I’m including musical comedy in here) can be particularly crushing in both lifestyle and performance.
A trip to Milton Keynes from Manchester is very exciting at first until you have a so-so gig and spend the next three months chasing up £20 for petrol that won’t cover half the journey there.
Having said this, you don’t really find out that sort of thing until you’ve done it. So maybe think about it less and just do it? As you can see, my advice is gold dust.
Edy is performing Hurst Schmurst on 1st February.