Gabey Lucas is a writer and comedian based in Washington. She’s performed from ‘New Zealand to New Orleans to North Macedonia’ and also produces comedy and panels shows. She is bringing her first Fringe show ‘A Berkshire Boar Walks into a Bar (and Gets Shot in the Face)’ to Edinburgh in 2024. We spoke to Gabey about the show, her long list of comedy influences, and getting food delivered mid-set in New Orleans.

Can you tell us about ‘A Berkshire Boar Walks into a Bar (and Gets Shot in the Face)?’

It’s a silly little stand-up show with a running thread about one of humanity’s dumbest moments. (But don’t worry, if you come you’re not gonna hear an hour-long history lecture. I’m not a monster).

It started with the base of how I’m easily distracted on stage. And because a) this is my first Edinburgh and b) I’m not UK-based, I have zero name recognition here so knew, ‘Here’s another hour of jokes from one of the gazillion stand-ups you don’t know,’ wouldn’t be compelling. Recognizing that, I took a bit to brainstorm what I could create that nobody else could — that might make people double-take. My poor ability to stay focused kept popping into my head, so I eventually followed my gut that direction and realized if I was gonna get constantly distracted, it would be by this episode of history. It just has so many ridiculous, distract-able details.

But really it’s just a joke show.

The title refers to an especially weird episode in the history of Anglo-American relations. How did you come across this incident, and do you have any other favourite pieces of weird history?

This saga took place on an island where I spent a lot of my childhood in Washington, the state of grunge and where I grew up. It’s called the Pig War and is a fun fact that most people from there know of, but couldn’t tell you any of the details. It was a dispute between the US and one of the British colonies that would become British Columbia, Canada, which also became my adopted home and was where I began doing stand-up.

Otherwise, not sure if I have any one favorite history moment, but I think humanity’s whole existence is a raging mess of non-sequiturs. Half of what we do and have ever done barely makes sense, to our benefit and detriment. We’re a very confusing species. There’s a lot of that in this show.

For anyone who might be new to you, could you describe your approach to comedy?

Ya know, it wasn’t really until the last year or so that I felt like I had a sense of what ‘my comedy’ is. I’m definitely not interested in being indulgently self-focused or confessional. My favorite way it’s been described was actually a few weeks ago by Sam Miller (check out his album Round Trip!) as, ‘You’re not an edge-lord, you’re an absurdist introspection-lord,’ which, in fairness, makes my material sound much cooler and probably intellectual than it is.

I will say I’m probably the only comedian who has five minutes on post-structuralist unicorns though.

Who are your comedy heroes, and how have they influenced you?

‘Heroes’ is pretty intense, but I do want to be Bob Mortimer-slash-Jessica Walter when I grow up. Some people who have given me ab workout, pause-the-TV-to-recover laughing fits:

Ellie White and Natasia Demetriou’s ‘flash mob’ in Stath Lets Flats
Flight of the Conchords’ throwaway background gags — Jemaine Clement realizing he just took a bite of a dumpster sandwich, Kristen Schaal’s slow-mo sex pest-ing
Sarah Silverman’s squirrels bit
Bec Hill (my first laugh after a year of COVID)
Sarah Kendall’s Taskmaster ‘Jamjod Snaj’
The Reno 911: Hunt for QAnon scooter chase scene
Veep’s insults
Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk
Patti Harrison at last year’s Fringe

Otherwise, there are so many people who are ingrained in my comedy brain; I quoted Waiting For Guffman at four, so credit to that troupe who introduced me to the concept. Then Schitt’s Creek came out and it melted my heart to see Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara reunited. Others: Eugene Mirman, Maya Rudolph, Roisin Conaty, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade, Sally Phillips, Sean LockArrested Development I have watched, conservatively, 20 times. Mitch Hurwitz there, as well as Sarah Kendall for Frayed and her Australian Trilogy shows, I think are two of the greatest comedy storytellers we have.

Really though, so many of my favorite stand-ups are peers and people who were above me in the scene when I started. Sophie Buddle, Fatima Dhowre, Randee Neumeyer, Katie-Ellen Humphries, Helen Wildy, Emmett Montgomery, Vanessa DawnJokes Please is a Vancouver weekly run by Ross Dauk, was the first stand-up show I ever saw, and when I started, my only goal was to get on it. I think if I had one last night on Earth, I’d want to spend it there.

You’ve performed all over the world, What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever played?

Oof, that’s such a brutal question for any comedian. A ‘good weird’ version was in New Orleans for Hell Yes Fest at a little brewery show. I ordered fried feta cheese bites for after my set, but then they were ready during my set and the chef brought them to me on stage — I ate them right then, probably second-degree burned my mouth, and it ruled. The audience was quite small and it was an intimate room so we were all just kind of rolling with it, embracing the situation, and being silly so, ‘Let’s watch this comedian burn the crap out of her mouth while telling jokes,’ actually meshed with the vibe.

Now if I answered that with the bad version of ‘weirdest gig’, yikes. Have I done a show to two audience members in an arcade where people were playing Pong and then one of the two approached me after to talk about how the Earth is flat and his friend walked into the moon landing soundstage and something something chemtrails? Who’s to say?

‘A Berkshire Boar…’ is your debut hour. What are your hopes and expectations for the month?

I feel like Edinburgh’s such a beast that, to keep myself sane, I can’t pin any hopes on validation. ‘Expect the worst, try for the best’ tends to be my mindset for everything, and what better place for that perspective than a festival where you’re competing with 3,300 other shows?

So really, as much as it’d be nice to get loads of reviews declaring me certifiably kickass, my goal is just to make it as good a show as possible — nothing is better than an hour where you and the audience are clicking and having an inimitably fun time. If people tell me they came to ‘Berkshire Boar..’ because a friend saw it and told them to go, that’s a success.

Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to (or dreading) about the Fringe?

Dreading? Mostly the brutality of it and the ensuing existential crisis that’ll probably result. Looking forward to? Being reinvigorated by the creativity of so many performers. Last year I came to Edinburgh for a week to do recon and saw so many shows that made you rethink what comedy can be, whether purely stand-up or beyond. And of course, looking forward to ‘Berkshire Boar…’ coming out of it stronger.

Beside ‘A Berkshire Boar…,’ can we expect to see you performing elsewhere during August?

I’m currently scheduled to do some compilation and panel shows and am working on getting some more onto my schedule too. I’ll shout out Andrew Frank’s ‘Mish Mash‘, which is a compilation show and one of three shows they’re putting on this Fringe. I’ll be on the lineup August second.

Are there any other acts at the Fringe that you would recommend audiences see?

Since I just mentioned them, I’ll start with Andrew’s other two shows — ‘Pastor!‘ and ‘Monkey Sermon‘. I’ve seen a lot of the pastor character they’ve been developing the last year, and it’s unbelievably funny but also full of love. Also, watching them do karaoke to Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ in character is one of my highlights of the last year.

Then Timmy Booth’s show ‘Manhole‘ is gonna rock. We’ve been bros for a long time — his wife and I actually got ‘divorced’ on stage in Griffin Kelly’s ‘Two Cats on a Date‘ when it toured after last year’s Edinburgh run — and have kept each other on track this year in the run up to getting our Fringe debuts ready. He was a runner-up in 2022’s Seattle International Comedy Competition, which puts him in company with past participants like Ria Lina, Rory Scovel, Mitch Hedberg, Aisha Tyler, Arj Barker… just a lot of people who crush. I genuinely think he could be a surprise Newcomer nominee; he’s on that level.

Otherwise, excited to see Carter Morgan — we haven’t seen each other since I think 2016 when briefly living in the same city — and some of the lovely funny people I met the first time I did stand-up in the UK: Alex Kitson, Louise Leigh, Helen Bauer. And I’m absurdly excited for Tom Whiston’s ‘The Dandy Daniels‘. I laughed out loud just reading the Edfringe blurb, which bodes well.

‘A Berkshire Boar Walks Into a Bar (and Gets Shot in the Face)’ is at Gilded Balloon Patter House – The Penny from Wed 31 Jul to Mon 26 Aug 2024 (except Mon 12 a& Mon 19)