With the title Fresh Hell and leading off with a quote that could leave audiences in an existential crisis, Paul McCaffrey is certainly giving himself a tall order with his new show.
‘It was based on a quote I saw,’ says the Winchester-based comic, ‘that said that one version of hell is that on your last day on Earth, the person you became meets the person you could have become.
‘It sent a bit of a chill down my spine and made me think if I died today, would I be happy with where I am?’
But don’t worry folks – he hasn’t forgotten this is meant to be a stand-up show.
‘That’s not really the theme of the show, but it’s certainly the jumping off point. When I say that quote there’s often an intake of breath and people recoil. But there is a joke very quickly afterwards!’
Fresh Hell is Paul’s new show for this year’s Edinburgh Festival, and he’s previewing it in Portsmouth next week.
It may prove to be naive, but I’m excited about this year, and on a good night, it’s going wellPaul McCaffrey
But back to that quote, does he reckon if he ever had such a meeting, it would have a happy outcome?
‘Probably not,’ he laughs, ‘I think there’s work to do. I’m 41, so one would hope I’ve got time to sort things out.’
This year’s Edinburgh will be his eighth, but last year he took a year out. Did he miss it?
‘Oddly, considering how much hard work it is, I did miss it. It gives your year a bit of shape.
‘It’s quite a weird job in terms of the hours you keep, and when most people are having their end-of-year Christmas parties you’re their entertainment.
‘In most workplaces you have a Christmas party. Whether you like or loathe the people you work with, there’s that sense that you’ve had a year, but we don’t really get that.
‘I guess this is the closest we get to a point to our year – a punctuation where you’re working towards something and it comes together.’
Paul has already been busy previewing Fresh Hell, and so far it’s been an experience that’s more good than bad.
‘I have enjoyed the process of putting the show together this year. It has been hard work – you’ll have a good one where it’s an hour long and then another one where it’s not so good and it’s only 40 minutes.
‘There have been a few moments during the preparation for this where I’ve been thinking ‘‘what the hell am I doing? I’m just trying to come up with an hour of funny stuff to say every night in Scotland in front of a room full of strangers. There’s got be an easier way to make a living.’’
‘It may prove to be naive, but I’m excited about this year, and on a good night, it’s going well.’
Given the miles comics put in as they zigzag across the country to gigs, Paul’s looking forward to one thing in particular: ‘Not seeing my car for a month, it’ll be nice to walk to my gig tonight and walk home.’
Paul appears on July 19 with Joel Dommett on the second of three nights of double-header Edinburgh preview shows. July 18 sees Lucy Porter and Andy Askins, while July 20 is Gary Delaney and Zoe Lyons. WOW247 Awards Best Comedy award winner James Alderson is the compere.
Each show is £8.
Tickets will be available on the door.
Spinnaker Cafe, Gunwharf Quays
July 18, 19 & 20