When aspiring (and bloody good) screenwriter Gregory Akerman realised he was too old to write for Skins (not to be confused with thinking that believes himself to be old enough to stop writing for Skins, he has never written for Skins), he turned to the medium of stand-up to procure his big break into the sitcom world; astonishingly failing to crash and burn spectacularly and actually doing pretty damn well for himself. Taking not one, but two solo shows to Edinburgh this year, I caught up with him over a drink or two (or six or seven) to find out whether he is, in fact, insane and give him a chance to plug his shows ‘cause, you know, I’m nice like that.

First things first, and most importantly, tell us about your press photo. It’s really quite awesome and I’m pretty sure there’s a story behind that somewhere…

Cheers, yeah. Well, originally the intention was to have me with the sandwich board on Oxford Street, standing stock still in the middle of traffic with stupid shoppers streaming all around me. But we went to Oxford Street and it was rammed! And I hate people. I had a go at walking across the road in a stream of people, people who were not trying very hard to make me feel comfortable and they kept looking at me. For some reason they seemed intent in ruining the shoot - almost like they had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. So, because of them largely, and certainly not because of me, It was never going to work, really.

Plus a passing policeman started paying pretty close attention to us so we thought, all things considered, it would be better to take the photos somewhere else - somewhere that the sandwich board didn't seem like quite as much of a terroristy statement. Hence the park. No people, no policemen, all good.

And that picture’s for the first of your Edinburgh shows?

Yeah. It’s called ‘Come Hell Or High Water This Sick World Will Know I Was Here’ and it’s all about fame.

Why fame?

Fame fascinates me. I’m not famous yet, but I will be one day obviously. One really quite soon day. So researching it seemed like a sensible thing to be doing. People seem to crave fame and then they get famous and spend the rest of their lives whining about how everyone wants to know what they’re doing. It seemed daft. I thought if I understood the history; the reason we now have fame, I could find a way to avoid the same pitfalls

And you’re taking this to Edinburgh to get famous?

Right. I’m making a guarantee, you see, to everyone who comes to watch it. If it’s really popular, and loads of people come along, and they like it, and all decide to come to the second show, then I personally promise that the second show I’m doing will be really busy.

That seems less like a promise and more like the natural order of things…

Well, you know, don’t make promises you can’t keep and all that.

So tell us about the second show

That one’s called ‘God Bless, God Speed, God Damn You All’. Christ I’m good with names. Shame I’m not better with the whole writing thing, really. But yeah, that one’s pretty good. It’s all about people who pretend to be people they’re not. Like the Three Christs of Ypsilanti. I can’t be bothered to explain that – google it if you’re interested.

But why doesn’t anyone ever believe them anymore? They used to, back in the good old religious days. When did that stop and why? And Billy the Kid, who wouldn't want to be Billy the Kid? I’m amazed that there aren't more people claiming to be him. And it only seemed right to honour the one and old Mr Roberts with the gentle mockery of an amateur show. But these people are always ignored and seen as mad and I'm not sure they were. It’s interesting, you see?

Sounds more like a philosophy lecture than a stand-up sketch

Yeah well I think it’s important to remind people that I’m intelligent. Not because I have any intrinsic insecurities about my intelligence. Not like that at all. I have read books and I see no reason to have to prove or justify myself to strangers because I'm incredibly secure with my intelligence and some people don't mind having a 2:2. I am very smart though. Plus anyone can tell really funny, well constructed jokes about boring things, but this is much more fun. It’s not really very funny jokes about fascinating things. What I lack in humour I more than make up for in historical accuracy. Human history is incredibly silly. And by extension, much more funny. Everybody wins.

And what happens after Edinburgh?

I'm going to start writing four new shows in September. Got the names already. God they’re good names. I’ll be launching my website in July, and doing a couple of podcasts from September, including the second series of "not a number, but pretty fucking close" which I have managed to convince a few actors to lend their voices for. Should be fun! And I’ve got a gig coming up in Birmingham. Paid and everything! Get me, I will literally be making tens of pounds. Am I trying to kill myself?



Catch Gregory Akerman in Edinburgh at the following times and places:

Come Hell Or High Water This Sick World Will Know I Was Here August 13th-28th The Crypt, Jekyll and Hyde. 12.30pm

God Bless, God Speed, God Damn You All - August 28th, Gothic Bar, The Three Sisters 7.30pm

Photo courtesy of Sophie Keyte