How hostile is the environment in Britain? Who is welcome here? What does it mean to integrate? These are the questions that Comedian and NHS Doctor Matt Hutchinson is taking on in his new show Hostile, which lands at EdFringe next month. If he can pull it off, I reckon that’s quite an impressive ambition for a one hour show. Join us for a pixelated pint as we talk about his reasons for tackling this weighty subject, where he finds the levity in it all, and how he’s planning to take on the Fringe.
Catch Hostile at Assembly George Square Studios (Studio Four) between August 2-14 & 16-27 (14:30). Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Jake: Hey Matt! Your new show ‘Hostile’ covers the hostile environment for immigrants in Britain. Tell us a little bit about your story and what made you want to bring this topic to the stage.
Matt: Like a lot of people doing their first full hour, the temptation is to do something autobiographical – as comedians are narcissists and it’s the subject we have the most material on.
I come from a mixed family – my dad is originally from Jamaica and my mum is white British. I wanted to include material related to that background – particularly in the year of the 75th anniversary of Windrush. I’ll try and balance the sometimes negative experiences of black communities in the UK with the good.
Jake: The show covers everything from the Windrush scandal to a remix of the Smiths’ ‘This Charming Man’ – tell us a little bit about the process of extracting comedy from such a present and topical theme.
Matt: I’d say trial and error mainly – often the jokes come around those subjects – rather than laughingat the events themselves. Also, making fun of Morrissey will always be funny – and makes me feel better about still enjoying the Smiths music when I hear it.
Jake: One of the questions the show asks is “What does it mean to integrate?” – which is as prescient a question as any given immigration policy in the UK over the last century. What are you hoping the audience takes away from it all?
Matt: I think with that question currently, my hope is that people will see beyond the idea of integration – and people can be seen as British, if that’s how they identify, regardless of which elements of culture they express and represent them. You could say that in many areas of my life I’m “integrated” – just because of how I’ve grown up – but then again I go to work in the NHS with dreadlocks, something some people might consider the opposite.
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – how are you feeling about it all now we are a month away?
Matt: I do love it (parts of it anyway) – the chance to do a full hour show and work on something with a theme is a creative challenge and perhaps more fulfilling. Then again it’s also a difficult, daunting task – and part of me wishes I were just writing a series of unconnected jokes purely for the sake of being funny.
There are of course the downsides – the costs are now beyond ridiculous, I am in my 30s with what most people would describe as a good job, and it’s almost too much for me – so how anyone young, particularly from a working class background is supposed to do a month up here I have no idea. I’m also not a fan of the constant comparison and buzz chasing – as it takes you out of the artistic process and doesn’t really help anyone.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Matt: A Rum OId Fashioned – classic with a Caribbean twist, and more fun than you might think.