Adam Riches recounts comedy gold to ARON SOLOMONS.
Character comedian Adam Riches is famed for his extensive crowd interaction: he has been known to “strike fear into his audience” (The Independent). He’s also the winner of the 2011 award for best show at the Edinburgh fringe, once broke his leg on stage, and got fired for being too much of a “prick” while working as a waiter at Disney Land.
I chat with Adam as he’s being attacked by his girlfriend’s chinchilla. Having just finished the Invisible Dot Tour with fellow comedians Tim Key and Johnny Sweet (both ex Footlights) he was busy putting some TV pilots together back in London. A veteran of the fringe (he has taken seven shows up North), his success last year was a welcome surprise and “not what you think about when you are alone in a room with only two people watching you”. He now has an agent in America, and performed in both LA and New York at the start of the year:
“I thought I had to adapt the show – that the references were too British. In fact, the less I changed it the better it was. It’s particularly silly, and silly is universal. Although you wouldn’t get away with this crap in France”.
The “crap” he refers to is one of the most original comedy routines being performed on stage at the moment. He recalled one particularly enthusiastic twelve-year-old American boy he pulled up on stage, who he made give another participant an “anal douche’”: “He started spraying water at the guy’s backside, and his mother stormed on stage, grabbed him by the wrist and proclaimed, “I think you’ve had enough”. It felt like the whole audience was being told off”.
The risk with such an interactive show is that not all the surprises end with irate American mothers marching comically on stage. Sometimes, things get uglier. His worst experience was when, while having someone lick Yakolt off his face, “suddenly a man stormed on stage, grabbed me by the throat and started saying that “everything I was doing was gay.” Another disaster struck in 2008, when he slipped on some more yoghurt and broke his leg: “it was a terrible ordeal, but it got me both press and audiences. I was back on stage in wheel chair. There were thousands of comic characters up at the festival, but only one had broken their leg!”
When I asked him to elaborate on getting the sack from Disney Land Paris, he explained, “back in 1992 I flunked my A levels and went to work in Paris. I wanted to be Tigger but was too tall, but too short to be Balou. I ended up working as a waiter and just got a bit cocky. I was away from home, there were celebrity customers, basically a lot of temptations that encourage you to be a prick. The problem was I wasn’t that good a waiter!”
Being member of a college forever mocked for being made entirely of red bricks, I was keen to find out he could throw a brick at anyone, who would it be? “Have you asked this to anyone else? This is a hard one. No real political allegiance, actor wise there is no one I really want to maim. Hmmmm. I know, the FA (football association). We need to start again – weird disciplinary decision, Roy Hodgson as manager. Oh and the British footballing press. Actually I would need more than one brick; I think I’ll need a house”.
Adam Riches will be performing at the Robinson May Ball on the 15th June.