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Edinburgh Preview: an Interview with Josh Ladgrove

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

You know you get those real magical moments up at Fringe where you go 'this is what it's all about'. That glorious feeling of being the first one in your group to find that hidden gem that you can tell everyone about? Well for me in 2018 it was sitting on the top deck of a double decker bus late on a Tuesday night slightly tipsy, watching the genius that is Josh Ladgrove, as his magician persona Neal Portenza. I adore Josh's playfulness with an audience, and the ingenuiety contained in each show is on par with the best. I was overjoyed when I saw he was coming back to Fringe this year, not just because he's a lovely guy, but because I want to take all my friends to see his new show - Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove in: Edinburgh's Only Bilge Pump Sales Seminar.

He very kindly answered some questions for us - check them out below!

1. What’s special about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? 

What's NOT special? It's just an atmosphere unlike anything else. The entire city (which is already rather magical) comes alive and is buzzing with the sort of spirt which is the antithesis to all the political junk that's kind of happening. Other than that, the best performers from around the world come and perform the best versions of their shows. It's really a brilliant time of year, nowhere better to be in August.

2. If you could go back to your first ever Fringe would you do anything different? Hmm, I wouldn't change anything. I had a great run, my show was often over capacity, and it was a great PBH Free Fringe run. I have really fond memories of that year and made great friends I still keep in touch with. I suppose I should say, I would have played the game and invited industry folk, but fuck that, fuck the game, if your show is good, people will come, and the publicists and the myriad hangers-on can go jump in front of Bob's Bus.

3. What was the best advice you got as an emerging company/performer/comedian?Concern yourself with nothing but the show. Within practicality. Maybe print posters, sure, but the lion's share of energy and time should be put into making a great 1 hour show, that's what it's all about, and Edinburgh is brilliant for word of mouth, so a good show won't stay hidden for too long.

4. What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done? Come Heckle Christ in Edinburgh, 4th night. Stewart Lee was there. The prick.

5. If you weren’t in this business, what job would you be doing? Robotics engineering or stock-market things. Alternatively, I'd be a folk singer-songwriter; you know the unbearable type who never seem to wear shoes and use loop pedals and think the acoustic guitar can double as a percussive instrument.

6. What’s your best memory of the fringe? Delivering a rousing speech to the Just The Tonic staff at the end of the 2015 Fringe. The people who were there remember how special that was. They all went and climbed Arthur's Seat after that. We were all high. It was properly magical.

7. Any special food recommendations up in Edinburgh? Well my favourite coffee shop inexplicably shut... I'm from Melbourne, so it's tough. It's a bit of a step-down if I'm being blunt, but there's a really cheap and nasty curry place on a street whose name I forget. It's OK for 4 pound. Also, there's a really great Indian restaurant that has properly good curries whose name I forget, AND a terrific soup and coffee place whose name I forget. I hope this helps.

8. Is there anyone performing this year you’re desperate to see? Who is it... ? I'll be looking forward to seeing Courtney Paruso's show. She's from LA and directed by Dr. Brown. I saw a preview and I think she'll make a big splash here. Otherwise, just seeing a few of the shows I missed at the Comedy Festival in Melbourne.

9. How did this current show come about? My friend Jason and I thought it would be funny to do a seminar on bilge pump sales. I was right.

10. Why should someone come see your show? Do you mean other than because it won Best Independent Show at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival? Or do you mean because it started with like 8 people in the audience and sold out the entire 2nd half? Or do you mean something else? Like the amazing reviews? You probably aren't referring to that stuff right? It's a seminar on how to achieve financial freedom through the sale of bilge pumps. If that doesn't sufficiently whet people's appetite then I really can't help you.

Josh's new show, Neal Portenza is Joshua Ladgrove in: Edinburgh's Only Bilge Pump Sales Seminar will be on at the Fringe from the 1st-25th August in Heroes @ Boteco (Basement) Tickets available here -

Follow Josh on social-y things!

Twitter - @NealPortenza

Instagram - @myfavouritepokemonisgreg

Facebook - @portenza

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