The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe has a reputation for either making or breaking up-and-coming comedians.
For Wagga’s Dane Simpson, his first solo show at the landmark comedy event could have gone either way.
“On the very first night, in the very first performance, midway through the show, the fire alarm goes off,” he recalled.
“We all go outside to this laneway assembly sort of area and we’re standing around next to the bins and everyone was saying, ‘Don’t leave us hanging – finish the story!”’
So he did.
“They all just sat on the steps, which was almost that perfect incline to be like an amphitheatre, and it was a bit dark so people lit their phones up, and I thought – all right – and just went on with the story!” he said.
“People were out there laughing so hard and it was so much fun because I think it was just such a crazy experience.”
Fortunately, they were soon able to return to their seats and Dane was relieved to have his didgeridoos, an integral part of the “Didgeridoozy” show, for the remainder of the performance.
“I had a couple of scouts and a reviewer in that night and from that very unique first opening night, everything just went crazy from there!” he said.
What could have been a disaster proved to be the perfect start to his two-week run as the story began to spread and shows were soon selling out.
As well as performing solo, Dane hosted several “Fast Fringe” shows and was included in the “Pick of the Fringe”.
“You want to be on these shows because it’s a good way to promote your own show, but to be from Wagga Wagga and to be picked to host these shows is just next level for me,” he laughed.
“I think that that’s insane. What an experience!”
Dane said his brand of “country comedy” seemed to translate well to the UK and he found audiences readily engaged with his yarns.
“I think it’s really fun to go from Wagga Wagga, and being an Aboriginal man, to go to London and try and connect with people. It feels like it’s going to be such a stretch, but it’s not.
“We’ve all got family, we’ve all got friends that do silly things and that’s just universal and I love finding those connections with people.”
Dane has been back in Australia for a few weeks now and has been busy with a string of comedy shows and TV appearances.
He said his inclusion in the upcoming celebrity edition of The Amazing Race on Channel 10 had led to some confusion, with one journalist mistaking him for a retired athlete.
“I came back to that, which is so crazy being referred to as ‘Dane Simpson, the AFL great’,” he said with a laugh.
“Maybe he saw my role in The Merger (which included an AFL match) or they thought, he’s Aboriginal, he’s tall, he’s probably a footy player.”
Looking ahead, Dane’s one-hour comedy special is playing on Paramount+ and Channel 10, he’s appearing in the film The Emu War and he’s bringing his latest show, Always Was, Always Will Be … Funny to Wagga next month.
“It’s cool to have an old show, Digeridoozy, that’s doing really well and people are watching it, and then having something new as well,” he said.
“Obviously as a performer, you always want to be better and better and this is my third solo show now and it’s my favourite show that I’ve written out of all of them.”
You can catch Dane Simpson on stage at the Civic Theatre on Saturday, 23 September, and you can buy tickets here.