Interview: Lockdown Rarely Asked Questions Special – Michael Odewale

Interview: Lockdown Rarely Asked Questions Special – Michael Odewale

2019 was a great year for Michael Odewale. His debut full length show, #BlackBearsMatter, was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer prize and won Best New Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. 2020 wasn't so great and we all know why. In this latest interview in our series of chats with the Edinburgh Best Newcomer Class of 2019 he talks about the dramatic effect Covid has had on comedy both personally and for the industry. Odewale is a strong new voice in stand-up – confident, assured and opinionated about his place in the modern world. He will definitely be going places – as soon as lockdown is over.

How has the last year been for you?
It’s been strange, up and down. Everything screeched to a halt last March and there were obviously low periods where I didn’t know what to do next and even if my industry could even come back but there’s also been moment’s of inspiration that come from all that free time such as figuring out how to write sketches, writing scripts etc. and opportunities that honestly I’m not sure I would have got pre-Covid. I think I’m slowly figuring that I can’t control the outside world, all I can control is me and my response to things.
When was your last pre-Covid gig?
My last gig before the 1st lockdown was in early March in Bristol and I remember the promoter being really worried and saying comedy might not come back for a long time and I remember looking at him crazy like ‘nah surely this thing will blow over in a couple months’. I guess I was a little off. 
My last gig before this most recent lockdown was in front of like 15 people in Southampton which in normal times can not always be the most enjoyable experience but in these uncertain times, I made sure I savoured every moment. 
How have you coped financially? (did you do any non-comedy work?)
I’ve been quite lucky to get furlough money from my part time job and have had enough online gigs and random writing jobs to ensure that I wasn’t hurting too bad. 
Did you get much government/arts council etc financial support?
I didn’t apply for any. From the research I did, I don’t believe I would have been eligible.
Do you feel comedy has been let down by government/arts council?
Yeah for sure. I think comedy is kind of overlooked and not seen as a legit art form and that negligence has already lead to a few iconic venues having to go out of business. The process needs to be made easier for comedians and this industry to get the support they need because people are going to need to laugh when this is over. 
Do you think comedy is an art?
If you don’t think comedy is an art then you haven’t watched Dane Baptiste perform. 
Were you planning to do Edinburgh Fringe 2020?
I wasn’t planning to go up. 
Do you think there will be a Fringe in 2021 and if there is are you planning to do it?
I’m not sure. Personally I would wait until 2022 just to be safe before considering going up. 
What are your thoughts about online gigs? Are they any substitute for 'the real thing'?
No they aren’t a substitute but they are a useful outlet for sure. Some people have done amazing things with the concept like Catherine Bohart who even ran an online weekend festival recenty! So all credit to people innovating in that field. 
Have you had Covid and if you have how are you now?
No I haven’t. At least I don’t think so.
What about the future. Do you think the UK comedy scene has changed forever or do you think eventually it will go back to how it was?
We got to see a little bit on how it would come back in parts last year with reduced capacity, mask and screens between seats and more outdoor gigs. Hopefully that’s not the forever future and next year onwards we can go back to comedy as it was before.
When is your next live gig scheduled?
I have no clue.


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