I only saw David McIver perform for the first time this year but even though it was a work in progress of his Edinburgh show and at an early stage I loved it a great deal, commenting in the review that the set was “Gloriously silly and likeable stuff”. He’s received a great deal of acclaim elsewhere too with Theatre1 stating that he “Had his audience in fits of laughter”, Broadway Baby saying “David McIver is a refreshing breath of air in every sense” and Chortle mentioning that he’s “Charming and playful… this act could grow into something delightfully ridiculous”. Here he talks about his latest hour of comedy, how he got in to comedy almost by accident, an unusual gig where he performed to just one 17 year old Scottish boy, and the time he paid loads of money for an old French man to insult him in very specific ways.
Comedy To Watch: How would you sell your comedy to someone unaware of your good self?
David: I do stupid and interactive character comedy, but I can’t do any proper accents or acting or anything. It’s good if you like silly comedy and bad if you wanna hear a guy with a microphone really tell it like it is!
CTW: Your latest show is a narrative based hour where you act out various characters in an online game, why do you prefer to do something like this over conventional stand up?
David: I like really silly and ridiculous comedy, and I find it easier to be stupid and fun when I’m putting on voices and costumes. It’s probably a crutch and I really admire stand-ups who can be silly and fun just as themselves. I do stand-up as well sometimes, and I do enjoy it, but it takes me so long to write stand-up. A new stand-up bit will be about 30 seconds long, whereas once I have a good idea for a new character it’s usually fairly straightforward getting 7 ish minutes out of it.
CTW: You studied at the prestigious École Philippe Gaulier, could you tell us about your time there?
David: I paid loads of money for an old French man to insult me in very specific ways. He told me I had the eyes of a dead fish that has been in a suitcase in Thailand for 40 years and that I sound like an assistant professor of linguistics at Birmingham University. Money well spent! It’s hard to really explain what was useful about the experience. For me I think it was mainly about trying to demonstrate a sense of joy to be performing at all times.
CTW: In an interview you described your start in comedy as happening “almost by accident” – could you tell us a little more about that?
David: I went to a comedy writing workshop and then at the end of the workshop I was told there was an open mic night that night, and I should perform at it. Deciding you are funny enough to do stand up comedy is a very gross and arrogant thing to do, and I don’t think I’d have got there if my first gig hadn’t felt like a surprise. I still don’t feel like I am funny enough to do stand-up, and I do stand-up.
CTW: What was your stand up like when you first started out, and how do you feel you’ve evolved over that time?
David: Like a lot of people I started out doing really deadpan stand-up, because I was quite nervous and it felt safer to not properly commit to what I was doing. Now I’m quite a silly boy and I try my best to sell my material like I think it is good. I think audiences want to watch someone having fun and trying to properly express themselves and step out of their comfort zone at times.
CTW: In a different interview you said “it’s important for comedy to be kind-spirited” – could you expand on that a little more, and what do you think of comedians who do edgy and “non-pc” jokes?
David: Well it’s not the most original opinion, but I think comedy that pokes fun at marginalised groups, or is racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist, is bad! Really bad! As well as causing offence it’s also usually boring and lazy comedy. I don’t really care about comedians being “non-pc” all that much, but I get very bored by the crusades against political correctness in the name of free speech.
CTW: What’s the most unusual gig you’ve done, and what happened that night?
David: I did a gig to a 17 year old Scottish boy in the back of a van at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016. It was this gig in a truck where you could pay £1 for a 10 minute set from a random comedian, but the audience numbers varied a lot. I asked him about his A Levels and what he wanted to do at uni. He essentially paid for 10 minutes of small talk. Nobody should have to pay for my small talk.
CTW: What’s the best thing to happen to you since you started comedy?
David: I moved into a flat with two comedians and one of them has a PS4!
CTW: If money were no object, what would you like to create?
David: I’ve had lots of ideas for this year’s show that are just not financially feasible. I’d like to hire a dancer on stilts to play a 10 foot angel of death, and I also wanna do that thing they do in big theatres where I fly around the stage on invisible wires.
CTW: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?
David: Q: Were you really Cumnor Minors FC’s Most Improved Player of the Year (2004/5 season)? A: Yes but I don’t like to talk about it!