hello mc hammersmith! i once had a short-lived career as 'dj three-stops-short-of-dagenham' – but i kept scratchin' the records! what first inspired you to combine freestyle rap with comedy?
That's a nice story! I learned freestyle rap in prison! And then when I emerged, I stumbled upon the work of MC Juice and MC Supernatural. Two of the grandfathers of freestyle rap. I realised all they were doing was improv. And I had already been performing improv for a number of years beforehand. So, as a lifelong hip hop fan, it seemed like the perfect Venn diagram overlap of my interests.
as a fearless journalist i'm going to ask you an important and personal question: do you have a dog?
I do have a dog! A border collie mix called Dog. I thought for ages – what would be a good name for a dog? So I called him Dog. I thought it would be funny to scream “DOG” in parks. As it happens, I have to be careful, because I'm worried passing women will think I'm insulting their appearance.
can you write a little rap that describes your dog?
Grab the microphone, my rhymes are so insane
I have a big dog, and Dog is his name
Yes Dog is the name, it was easy to choose it
I was going to call him Cat, but was told that was stupid
“Don't call him Cat, that's really odd
Because he isn't a cat, he's clearly a dog”
Okay fine Mum, you're making me fume
God why are you like this? I'm going to my room
how would your dog describe your show?
Too loud for comfort. Dogs hate fireworks, especially verbal ones.
Fringe Dog illustration by Lauren Hunter
is it true you studied linguistics because it rhymes with biscuits?
Yes, I love biscuits, and rhymes guide my life, so it was the only subject that made sense. I was going to study chemistry, but that rhymes with ecstasy, and I can't go back to prison.
at puppy school i was told i was untrainable, so i became a comedy reviewer. what had the bigger influence on your comedy – being a student in edinburgh or improv training in chicago and new york?
I think both taught me different things. Being a student in Edinburgh meant I was part of the Edinburgh Revue (the university's comedy society), so I had the fun of being surrounded by talented people, plus infinite stage time to be shit and get better through failure. That's an invaluable combo for any comedian.
Training in improv meant I could understand why comedy works – premise, heightening, patterning, all the things usually lacking from terrible student comedy. So I definitely grew from both.
i heard you keep a rhyming dictionary in your head! i once chewed on a first edition of fowler's english but i can't find it's contents in my mind. have your powers of recall and spontaneous improv skills helped you in other areas of your life?
I do keep a rhyming dictionary in my head – otherwise rhyming would be very difficult. To be honest, my powers of recall aren't particularly above average. I don't use memory techniques or anything fancy. I just sit down and learn the words through brute force, like a psychopath. If I could recall people's names, that would be sick, but I clearly care more about how “Homer Simpson” rhymes with “solar system”.