Edinburgh Fringe Fest - Moses Storm
After the success of his HBO stand-up special, Trash White (produced by Conan O’Brien), American comic Moses Storm makes his UK debut with Perfect Cult, the true story of being raised in a profoundly unsuccessful doomsday cult with parents who truly believed God was about to destroy the Earth. As part of the show, audiences will be invited to join Moses in the formation of a one-night-only cult.
Ahead of the cult initiations, Moses kindly gave us the lowdown on this incredibly interesting new show, collaborating with Conan and his contempt for TikTok comedy.
This is your debut in the UK, welcome! How does it feel to be coming the Edinburgh Fringe?
Going to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time feels like a healthy mix of excited and respectfully shit-my-pants-nervous. Hopefully it's the right mix. From the outside it can seem like once you have done all the late-night shows in America, arenas, your own HBO Max special, and all the other benchmarks comedians try to subtly brag about while trying to seem modest in an interview, you wouldn't be nervous for some lil' old fringe festival, right? However, the Edinburgh Fringe has held an important space in my heart. This place has such a rich comedy history, and I feel like I'm stepping into the footsteps of comedic legends.
For the past few years fellow comedy friends have been recommending that I take one of my shows out there. "Oh you would be perfect for the fest!". But I wanted to wait till I had the perfect SHOW for the fest. I feel like I finally have that show. Or it's just that classic stereotypical New York American arrogance. I would be lying if I didn't say that I built this show for the Edinburgh Fringe.
What’s the reaction been like from fans and critics for your HBO Special ‘Trash White’?
The reaction has been amazing, both from fans and critics alike. It's of course incredibly gratifying to see people connect with the material but it was also something that I just made for myself. Something I was proud of. It's a show I would go and watch.
I put everything I had into it. I built the set by hand, chose the lenses, co-directed, and spent 3 months locked in my bedroom editing it. While I made it for myself it would have ripped me up if the special would have bombed. I would not take nearly as much credit. "Oh me? Yeah I think I might put a few drops of paint on the set and did like a rough edit or whatever.. [pretends to take fake phone call] oh I gotta go this model wants me to do sex on her."
Perfect Cult sounds like a crazy story, did you really grow up in a Doomsday cult?
Ah, the infamous Perfect Cult. Yeah, it might sound like a crazy story, but it's true. I actually did grow up in a Doomsday cult.
Can I give you a pamphlet? Phial of the leader's blood blessed by the dark lord Crondor?
It's one of those bizarre experiences that not only could you not make up, but you also wouldn’t want to.
One of the most frustrating things that you hear as a comedian who was a "cult kid" is, "I bet you feel so lucky that all that happened to you. Now you have something to talk about on stage, right?"
But the truth is no I'm not. I would be more than content being a completely mediocre comedian who has basic take "the crazy dating apps" or kind of humorous insurance salesman if it meant that all of that pain, suffering, debit of a normal life didn't have to happen. There are definitely people who've had it way worse than me in life. I just think that telling artists that they're so lucky for their pain is one of the most toxic and abuse enabling lies we tell them/ourselves.
That being said I’ve finally gotten to a point of forgiveness with all that stuff. Enough forgiveness where I can actually make comedy out of it that's actually fun for the audience, and not a 60 minute "poor me, you deal with my trauma and give me money to fill the mommy-sized-hole in me"
I'm not special, I just got really lucky that people were really kind to me. Like Conan.
You spent your youth watching videos of Conan O’Brien and now you’re good friends – is it still a pinch-me-moment whenever you work with him?
It's definitely still a pinch-me-moment every single time I get to work with him. I mean, this is a guy I grew up watching, idolizing, seeing as a logo more than the sweet sensitive smart nearly translucent human man that he is. To now call him a collaborator is beyond surreal. Conan has been such an inspiration to me, and his support and mentorship mean the world. If I say anymore then it starts to sound like a eulogy. But yeah, sometimes you meet a celebrity and it's a little bit of a bummer but Dr. O'Brien has been beyond kind. (He is not a Dr he just makes me call him that. He said he needs it because his father never looked him in the eyes or something.)
How immersive is the immersive element to Perfect Cult? Should we be nervous?
No. Well there is absolutely crowd interaction/participation, possibility of being pushed outside your comfort zone and even costumes for the audience to wear, my goal is never to humiliate an audience member.
The worst thing about "TikTok comedy" is crowd work clips. Absolute cringe city. I cringe when I see a clip of a comedian essentially bullying a nervous most likely kind guy/girl on a first date in the front row. Unfortunately, because of TikTok comedians, desperate for infinite content to feed the algorithm with subpar and lazy roast jokes, immersive shows have gotten a bad rap in 2023.
It was important to me to create an experience that truly transports the audience into the world I grew up in. It's a mix of comedy, storytelling, and some unexpected surprises along the way. So yeah, there might be moments that catch you off guard, but ultimately, it's all in good fun. Think of it as a thrilling adventure with a lot of laughter sprinkled in. Remember that I need the audience's help more than they need me. Just sit back, relax and join me onstage if you are comfortable helping me try to do something different. Should you be nervous? No, but I should be.
Moses Storm: Perfect Cult will be performed at 10.20pm in Pleasance Courtyard (Beneath) from 2nd – 27th August (Not 16th)