Can you say there is such a thing as a perfect joke?
I don’t think you can. I think laughter is in mind of the person who’s laughing, just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone finds different things funny. But I think there has to be a certain element of surprise. I just love words, basically, and putting words with different… words. They can be funny or not, but it’s all about putting words together. (See Rob Auton's award-winning joke here)
You’re also quite well known as a poet, and The Sky Show is a mixture of poetry and comedy. Do you approach writing poetry and jokes in the same way?
Definitely, yeah. If I have a little idea – I mishear something, or something like that – I build it from there. I just say things onstage that I think are funny. I don’t know if they’re jokes. Some are sort-of-jokes, some are poems. But the one that Dave picked out is my only proper ‘Joke’, I guess.
Given the success of your first joke, do you plan to follow it up with a second one?
I might write a second joke, definitely. I think I’ll try and write one for next year.
Always give yourself a realistic deadline, that’s what I say. Your first full-length poetry collection, In Heaven The Onions Make You Laugh, was published a couple of months ago. In exactly 10 words, why should I go out and buy a copy?
[Without even pausing to think] It’s 112 pages, and every one of them is different.
Recommend me a first-rate comedian.
Louis CK. I like him.
Recommend me a great poet.
I’d say Ivor Cutler is still the biggest one for me.
What’s the strangest thing to have happened to you at the Fringe this week?
I was on the Royal Mile and I saw a Storm Trooper getting arrested. That’s it really. He was getting done by the police for, um – let’s not say that actually, it’s pretty bad. What else has happened to me at the Fringe? I’ve been to a lot of Italian meals on my own.
Pasta or pizza?
A sensible diet. Could you talk me through your writing process – how do come up with ideas when preparing for a show?
I’ve done two shows – one was The Yellow Show, one was The Sky Show. I give myself a theme that I want to write about, and then I just write about that. It gives me something to write to, really. And then the ideas just come from that.
The Sky Show sounds great. Do you have a favourite cloud?
Your shows have a beautiful, handwritten aesthetic – last year it was The Yellow Album and yellow-tinted Yelevision spectacles, this year it’s your hand-drawn The Sky newspaper, full of views (of the sky). Do you write all your material by hand?
When I was working in the art shop, I would always write things on the back of bits of scrap paper and things like that, and keep them in my pocket, then type them up. So I always have the bare bones of an idea with me, and then I go back to it and make it into something I like.
The Sky Show is on at 4PM at The Bashee Labyrinth, Edinburgh, until August 24th. Tickets are free.
Louis CK: Oh My God is on Sky Atlantic at 9:00pm on 26 August.
Archive on 4: Ivor Cutler at 90 is now available on BBC iPlayer