Ignacio Lopez is a Welsh/ Spanish comedian based in Cardiff. Since beginning his career in 2010, he has toured regularly all over the UK and become a regular face on BBC One Wales’ Stand-Up Sesh. As well as his acclaimed stand up, he writes sketches and sitcoms. We talked to him about his new show ‘El Cómico’, his prolific output during the pandemic, and a particularly sweet Fringe memory.
How have the last few years been for you?
A bit wild! When the pandemic hit and all my gigs vanished, I panicked. Like a lot of performers, I threw myself into online content to keep occupied.
It was like a big experiment. I ran an online quiz every Saturday night for nearly 18 months, I recorded a 50 minute comedy special in my flat with no audience, and put it online back in May 2020 (beat Bo Burnham to it by a year!), I made a bunch of sketches, I did stand-up gigs over zoom in loads of different time-zones. One day I did maybe 16 spots around the world from my lounge. It was a bit like Edinburgh Fringe; only I didn’t have to run between shows, so I used an exercise bike to work up a sweat, and my girlfriend intermittently threw flyers at me, and water in my face for rain.
I recorded a comedy album in Manchester Frog and Bucket the night before going into another lockdown, and remotely recorded a sitcom and a comedy special for BBC Radio Wales. Following my delayed tour around the UK, I’m out gigging six nights most weeks. I’m scared to turn a gig down, in case it’s my last!
Can you tell us about ‘El Cómico’?
‘El Cómico’ just means ‘The Comedian’, as that’s who I am now to everyone close to me, and it’s how I’m introduced to anyone new. Sometimes it’s used derogatorily if I’ve pissed someone off.
The show is mostly about my family; my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents. They’re all from different countries, and at some point everyone in my family has been an immigrant. We’re like a dysfunctional League of Nations; my family tree looks like it was painted by Salvador Dalí. I talk about my family in Spain, Morocco, Ireland, and how I ended up as a comedian in Wales. The show is very honest, but not particularly sentimental; it’s an hour of jokes.
You’re based in Cardiff. How is the comedy scene in Wales? Do you think there’s still a belief that in order to be most successful you would need to be based in London?
I love it in Cardiff. Wales has great audiences and a variety of different sized shows, from little pub gigs, to comedy clubs, to theatres, but if anyone in Wales tells me they’re interested in doing stand-up, I tell them they have to learn to love traveling; I should have shares in Megabus I use them so much. You can’t stay in the same city or town and gig every night in Wales, there just isn’t the volume of shows, but Wales is great for turning over material; you have to write loads because you often see the same faces in the crowd.
I don’t think you have to be based in London to be successful. Comedy has changed a lot. I don’t get on TV or radio as much as some of my friends in London, but I’ve managed to sell tour tickets and build an audience online. I’d love to do more TV but sometimes audiences think that’s the goal for all comedians. I’m just happy I’ve managed to keep going for so long!
What for you are the best and worst things about the Fringe?
I’m still a massive comedy fan, so the best thing is getting to hang out with so many comedians and catch so many shows, all in one city, everything in walking distance. This is also the worst thing, it’s like a parent caught me smoking and made me smoke the entire packet of cigarettes, every day for a month.
Have you had any really memorable Fringe experiences, good or bad, either as performer or as an audience member?
I went to my friends Bec [Hill] and Gav’s [Innes] wedding in the Gilded Balloon during the Fringe a few years back, that was pretty special. It was fun to be at the Fringe not working, also Bec and Gav are such lovely people that the entire wedding and reception was wall-to-wall the nicest comedians at the Fringe. I’m so pleased I managed to trick them into thinking I belong in that group for their big day.
This is the first Fringe proper since 2019. What are your hopes and expectations for 2022?
I hope to pace myself, catch a load of comedy, have a great time hanging out with friends, and perform a manageable amount of shows. I fully expect to have performed 3000 spots, destroyed some friendships, drunkenly told the booker of a big TV show that I’d love to appear on that nobody watches TV anymore, and burned myself out by August 8th. Which is my birthday (and tickets for my show are 2-4-1 that day).
Are there any other acts at the Fringe that you would recommend audiences should see?
I saw Lily Phillips preview her show ‘Smut’ recently, and it was riotously funny. I’ve been doing cruise ships over the last year with Emmanuel Sonubi. On paper I don’t think either of us look like we’d do well on cruise ships, but we’ve had a blast, I can’t wait to see his show [‘Emancipated’]. Mark Simmons is always brilliant. Katie Green is great, I think she’s on a showcase for the month [‘The Comedy Reserve’]. Just take a punt on some acts you’ve never heard of, that’s the real fun of it.
‘El Cómico’ runs from Wed 3 Aug to Sun 28 Aug 2022 (except Fri 12 and Sat 13 Aug) at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Snug @20:20