Award-winning comedian Rob Carter debuts his new character at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016.
The worst novelist in Shropshire takes on the largest arts festival in the World
Christopher Bliss, a charming misfit from Shropshire, thinks he is the writer of his generation. He writes four to five ‘novels’ a day including such classics as his two man whodunit: A Murder And A Robbery At The Same Time On The Train From London To Shropshire. In reality, Christopher’s short stories have been neither published nor enjoyed by anyone outside his immediate family.Spurred on by a throwaway compliment from his auntie, he’s decided to leave his village for the first time in his life and take on the largest arts festival in the World. On 4th August Christopher will head up to the Edinburgh Festival armed with his notebook, his trusty windbreaker and some background music he’s written himself. Hidden away in this earnest yet ridiculous punt at success is Christopher's real story of who he is and how he came to be so blissfully unaware of his own flaws. He has even made a website to keep his fans up to date: www.christopherblisswebsite.
What was the inspiration for this performance
The inspiration for the character has come from various real-life people I’ve come across. I find the concept of confident incompetence really funny, and I’ve played around with it in a few different forms. The character used to just write diary entries for example, but misunderstand the point of a diary, or the things you’re supposed to write in one. The format that allowed me the most creative freedom was writing stories as Christopher. I started writing short stories (or novels in his mind) and I felt they had the potential to be longer. So I started writing a long story with multiple characters, and that’s basically what the Edinburgh show has become.
How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I’ve worked with Lucy Danser at Chatback Comedy for ages. She gave me my first gig as this character and has seen the progression of the character all the way through to now. We did a show called Stand Up and Slam last year (which we’re doing again this year) and discussed making a full-length show for Christopher then. And since then she’s been more and more involved, and is now producing and directing the show, in association with Camden Comedy Club, which she runs in London.
How did you become interested in making performance?
I’ve always enjoyed acting, stepping into someone else’s shoes. It probably started with imitating teachers at school. I was exposed to live comedy at Cambridge and have been addicted to it ever since. I particularly enjoy character comedy as a combination of writing, acting and stand up.
Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
This type of show is new to me to be honest, and I’ve gone about it in a slightly different way. I essentially have to write in character, then edit as myself. I might have to tweak something I wrote ‘as Christopher’ because it’s too long, or too obvious, or comes too early in the story etc. I’m really enjoying writing the show though and find that editing it with a different mindset has benefitted it hugely.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Above all, I would love people to interact with Christopher Bliss. I love imagining him to be real, and not just billed as a live comedy show that ends after an hour of him on stage. I encourage people to talk to him during the show, but would particularly enjoy it if people connected with him outside the show too.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Christopher has his own facebook account - people can add him as a friend. He’s on twitter @chrisblisstwit. He even has his own website (christopherblisswebsite.com) where he’ll be uploading photos and videos throughout Edinburgh. He’ll be writing pieces on what he finds most exciting about Edinburgh. I’ve also got him a phone (which he’s particularly excited about) and I’ve put his number on the back of his flyers. I would encourage anyone to get in touch with him on 07759 354233.
Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I’d love people to see it as immersive character comedy. Comedy that people can access when they want, in real time. And next year the show will be more interactive than ever…
Written and performed by Rob Carter (Channel 4’s Peep Show and Fresh Meat). Rob is a London based actor/comedian who trained with the Cambridge Footlights and at LAMDA. He won the Musical Comedy Awards in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2013 BBC New Comedy Awards on Radio 2. He’s also hosting Stand Up & Slam! at the Mash House during the Fringe.
Directed by Lucy Danser. Lucy is an actor, writer and director. She wrote and directed her debut play Rachael’s Cafe at the Edinburgh Fringe and London’s Old Red Lion Theatre