Q&A : Nic Sampson
We're interviewing critically acclaimed comedian Nic Sampson on his new Edinburgh Fringe Festival show, 'Marathon 1904.' The solo comic takes the audience back to the dumbest sporting events of all time, the 1904 Olympic marathon in St Louis, Missouri. Starting with 32 athletes and finishing with only 14 due to a perfect storm of stupidity, cheating, booze and rat poison. The unbelieve yet true story comments on the reality of a broken system with cheaters and the blatantly ignorant awarded whilst rule followers are trampled.
Have you always been interested in obscure history?
Not really! At school I didn’t even care about mainstream history to be honest. That quote about people who don’t learn history being doomed to repeat it? That’s about me, baby. Constantly repeating history like an utter chump.
In saying that I did once make a comedy show about the life of Ernest Rutherford, the famous New Zealand scientist who split the atom. Not sure why I did that to be honest, I mainly just liked the look of his moustache. After this show maybe I’ll do a show about myself: just me, a leather jacket, a microphone, and the truth…
In your show “Marathon, 1904”, how have you embodied the character of Thomas Hicks? Who is Thomas Hicks to you?
Thomas Hicks was one of the main players in the 1904 Marathon, but there isn’t all that much information about him out there. He was an English brass worker whose only goal in life was apparently to win a marathon. I have no skill with brass, but I do hope to win a marathon one day. I hope to do this without having train for or compete in said marathon, I just really want to be able to post a picture of the medal next to a beer with the caption ‘earned this today lol’.
I do see us both as people who have left their homes and travelled halfway around the world for one last shot at their foolish dreams, and I wish us both all the best!
How do you create a balance between stand-up and theatre?
I grew up doing theatre, you might say I’m a child of the stage. You might not want to say that because it makes you feel sick, and I wouldn’t blame you! Every time I try to make a normal stand up show I find myself adding in theatrical elements, possibly because it’s in my nature, possibly because I’m not good enough at normal stand up. Who’s to say!
Have you ever gone blank onstage in the middle of a show? Yeah, several times, but usually in my own shows so I can just sort of pad for time until I remember where I am. I promise I have rehearsed this show though and will not forget it.
Since you’re also performing in ‘Snort’, how do you switch between group performance and solo? Which do you prefer?
Snort is an improvised comedy show that I do with my dear friends from New Zealand. That means there’s no preparation required and no pressure on me to remember anything! It’s really the perfect show to do. I love doing both and I hope people will come to both.