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Latitude Festival – Big on Performing Arts. Chatting with Kiri Pritchard McLean and James Acaster

June 22, 2016

ArtsPerformance | by Harry Seymour


It sometimes feel like there is at least one festival every weekend, from the beginning of the season and the early weather riskers in June, through to the final slog to the Isle of Wight for Bestival – with the perpetually wet Glastonbury signalling the half way point has been reached in the middle.

Latitude Festival 2015. Photographer: Sam Neill.
Latitude Festival 2015. Photographer: Sam Neill.

Latitude Festival on the other hand, straddles a intriguing gap amongst these. Known for its friendly atmosphere, this mid-July festival in the beautiful rolling countryside of Suffolk, places itself as not just about the music, but as a patron of the performing arts, including comedy, dance, theatre, art, film and literature. It’s an all encompassing, all celebratory ode to creative talent, making it one of the most exciting festivals in the UK. This year’s comedy line up is stronger than ever, and happening just for a fortnight before Edinburgh Fringe, it is the perfect place to talent-spot and make notes of what will be the best shows in the Scottish capital.

Candid Magazine sat down with two of this year’s most exciting performers, Welsh stand up Kiri Pritchard-McLean who is rapidly gaining momentum, and man of the moment James Acaster, to talk about their work, and what makes Latitude great.

Kiri Pritchard-McLean
Kiri Pritchard-McLean

Candid Magazine: Where do your ideas come from?

Kiri Prtichard-McLean: Sometimes things happen and you know it can go on stage straight away. All my friends are comedians though so I have to hope they aren’t with me so we don’t have to fight over it. Most of the time I’ll just pick a subject I’m arrogant enough to believe the world needs my take on.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a comedian?

KPM: I saw the League of Gentleman on television when I was a teenager and decided I wanted to do that, without knowing what that was. I started writing bits of comedy in my drama club and then when I went to University I did a comedy course. In the following 18 months I told everyone I was a comedian even though I had only done 3 gigs. What a dick.

CM: Do you have any pre or post show rituals?

KPM: I have to need a wee and I have to not go. I feel like if I could wee myself I’ll be more on my toes. Apparently Enoch Powell, Hitler and Tony Blair thought the same thing, so I’m in fine company.

CM: Has anything ever happened in your life that has shifted your focus as a comic?

KPM: When I started I used to write what made me laugh and then I tried to water it down and do really accessible stuff I thought audiences wanted. I was getting a really shit response and I nearly quit. Then a couple of great comics gave me some great advice, do stuff you can be proud of. As soon as I did that everything seemed to click for me.

CM: Do you have a final goal your aiming for?

KPM: Just be really good. That’s the dream.

CM: What is great about Latitude festival?

KMP: The line up. It is superb across the board. You can take a punt on any band/act/event and you’ll be in for a treat.

James Acaster
James Acaster

Candid Magazine: Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a comedian?

James Acaster: This is what happens to you if you don’t have any qualifications or a plan in life.  I often try and make out like I know how I got here but your guess is as good as mine.  I fluked it, really.  Massively fluked it.

CM: Where do your ideas come from?

JA: I fluke them as well I think.  If I’m honest that’s exactly what happens.  I flukily think of them and don’t fully understand why any of it works.  God, I’m a fraud.

CM: Do the shows evolve as a narrative around a pre-thought up theme or does the material come first?

JA: Each show comes about differently, sometimes material first, sometimes narrative first, sometimes theme first, every time it’s a fluke.

CM: Were you really struck by lightning, and did you edit your own Wikipedia page?

JA: I do not edit my Wikipedia page but now you’ve drawn my attention to it I’ve been on and read it and it would appear that someone has had an absolute field day on there

CM: What is great about Latitude festival?

JA: If I manage to fluke a good gig then it’s been a great festival

Catch Kiri and James both on the comedy stage on Saturday 16th July at Latitude. Latitude Festival is from 14 – 17 July 2016, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk.