March 02, 2018 Entertainment

ESP’s comedy columnist Sarah Slack grabbed a word with the Edinburgh Festival favourite who’s one of a great line-up at the city’s comedy festival.

Performing on Sunday March 11 as part of the Key Theatre’s comedy festival, I had a catch-up with the multi-award winning comedian Rob Kemp, creator of cult Edinburgh hit The Elvis Dead and most recently awarded Best Performer at the Comedians’ Choice awards…


Firstly, many thanks for taking the time out to have a chat – I think your Peterborough performance will be my third time seeing your show, but how would you describe The Elvis Dead to those who’ve never seen the show before?

“A musical retelling of Evil Dead 2 via the songs of Elvis Presley, with props and video-backing. A weirdly successful folly. A private joke that went too far. A love letter to two things I am into thanks to my Dad.”

Is a love of Elvis songs/Bruce Campbell a must for enjoying the show?

“I am told that it really isn’t. In fact, I have it on good authority that a member of the Leicester Comedy Festival Awards panel disliked horror movies and was not a fan of Elvis, yet still came away a fan of the show. That said, if you DO love one or both, you may enjoy it slightly more. (As an aside; if you don’t like horror movies and are concerned about gruesome content, let me assure you, it is pretty much a PG).”

ElvisDead_Chainsaw-squintYou had a lot of celebrities attending your show last year, including Dara O’Briain and Ed Byrne. Who made you the most starstruck?

Given that spotting Dara O’Briain’s face loom out of the darkness made me lose my place and forget a lyric, I would probably say he gets that ‘honour’. He paid me a great compliment on the night after the show, he told me that he once got so involved in an IMAX film that he didn’t eat his sweets. He then proceeded to pull an unopened packet of crisps from his pocket – better than crisps, what an achievement! I often wonder if he ever ate those crisps…”

Do you remember where you were last year when you found out you’d been nominated for Best Newcomer? How did it feel?

“I do remember, very clearly. I was stunned, but I quickly came to my senses as I was at work stuffing envelopes with GCSE results. Nothing will bring you back down to earth faster than paper cuts and time-sensitive admin. I still am blown away. Every time I look at the nomination trophy (they give you a nomination trophy!) I struggle to believe the crazy ride.”

You’re currently performing a massive run at the Soho Theatre in London. Now that bookings for The Elvis Dead have gone crazy, what are you doing to keep your throat muscles intact?

“I tend not to drink before a show, and avoid dairy where I can – not easy for a tea-fiend. Oh, and I try to do some warm-ups I have been taught… if I have time… and if I remember. A part-time vow of silence might be in order!”

You once said your next show would be a mixture of Carpenters’ classics and the plot of The Thing (as directed by John Carpenter, of course) – is this still a possibility or have you had any other ideas for the Fringe this year?

“I still might do that at some point. I make for a striking Karen Carpenter and The Thing is one of my favourite films. I have a silly time-travel idea, and a sort of Twilight Zone thing, and I fancy having a go at being in a sketch duo. Maybe something personal someday, and possibly, eventually a follow-up/companion piece for The Elvis Dead. I just need to flesh some of them out now. How many ‘flash in the pan, one-hit wonders’ have a newcomer nomination? Asking for a friend…”

Tickets for The Elvis Dead are available at the Key Theatre box office or by calling 01733 207239.

PHOTOS : © Roger AP Jones / Peril Design