Back by popular demand for 2017, our Brighton Bites series offer short, witty and slightly tongue-in-cheek insights into shows performing at England’s largest arts festival. Hopefully, they will whet your appetite to try something new at this year’s Brighton Fringe.
Here, Alex Sergeant tells us about his show, Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, which he’ll be performing at Sweet Dukebox.
How would you describe your show in one sentence?
An introduction to the life and work of Sigmund Freud with knob gags.
Why Brighton Fringe for this show?
I’ve heard a lot about Brighton Fringe’s reputation for encouraging eclectic programmes and for open-minded audiences. I’m taken the show to other parts of the UK, and I’m really excited to bring it to a passionate crowd ready and willing to try something new. My show straddles a few different genres – it’s part stand-up show, part lecture, part-TED talk and part dramatic performance at times – so I’m really excited to immerse myself in the Fringe and see a broad range of shows, as well as a diverse set of audience members at my shows with their own range of interests and backgrounds. The more the merrier!
How have you been preparing for Brighton Fringe?
I’m a university lecturer by day, so I guess I’ve been preparing for the last few years as part of my work as a researcher. Freudian psychoanalysis is a subject I’ve published on in a number of academic journals and edited collections, so it’s a topic with which I’m very familiar. That said – I’m not sure the best way to psyche yourself up for a run of stand-up shows is to stare out over an audience of students. They can make for a sorry sight if you’re unlucky enough to encounter them pre-midday! I therefore develop the show at comedy nights and clubs around London, where I live most of the year. I test my material out on comedy fans, not Freud fans. They tend to me a quite receptive to a bit of psychoanalysis – particularly after a few pints!
What do you think sets your show apart from all the other festival offerings?
In terms of its formal structure and tone, the show is very much built like a typical stand-up comedy show. I talk about my interests, my thoughts, my opinions and try to make them as entertaining as possible. It just so happens that the things I want to talk about are far from what I guess you’d call the standard comedy fare. Rather than talking about my life, or politics, or sharing silly stories that have happened to me, I talk about the life and work of Sigmund Freud. You might learn something, but the main thing is I want to make you laugh – this just happens to be the best subject to make you do that. There are tons of funny things about Freud – I promise!
What’s the show that you don’t want to miss at this year’s Brighton Fringe (apart from your own)?
As a Freudian, I am a little prone to activities where I get to let my unconscious loose on occasion, so I’m looking forward to Imaginary Porno Charades at the Sweet Dukebox. It’s a one-off all-night 12-hour event as part of the Late Night Fringe on Friday 2nd June, running from 10pm until 10am the following morning! Comedians will perform porno versions of their favourite films and tv shows. I can see things getting very Freudian indeed by 2am!
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given for performing at a Fringe Festival?
Freud once wrote that: “The Brighton Fringe is one of the world’s most amazing festivals. It’s full of superb shows and people, and the local residents are quite possible the smartest, kindest, wittiest, sexiest, happiest, coolest people in the world…. particularly those who buy tickets to Alex Sergeant’s show about my work”. Ok. He didn’t really write that. But it would be really handy for me if he had.
If your show was a flavour of ice cream being sold on Brighton Pier, what would it be?
Penis… I mean banana.
Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious runs at Sweet Dukebox, 29 May – 4 June
For more information visit www.brightonfringe.org.
The Reviews Hub is proud to sponsor the Literature & Spoken Work section of Brighton Fringe 2017 as well as being an official Reviews Partner, offering in-depth coverage of the festival.