Chris Betts: A man walks into a bar … and walks out a comedian

Edinburgh intros #26: Canadian stand-up Betts presents his show borne of his experience as a bartender

Chris Betts comedian1. Hello Chris Betts! Tell us a bit about the show.
The show’s about seeing the world through the eyes of a bartender. Before I did stand-up I was a bartender for over a decade and so this show is mostly about the ways people are in bars. Fights, stag dos, hen dos, flirting, positive sexuality and, of course, fisting.

2. What’s your favourite bit?
It sounds silly but I really like my jokes. I don’t say anything on stage that didn’t make me laugh out loud when I thought it so getting to write an hour of thing that make me laugh has been really, really fun.

3. If your show were a dog, what breed would it be?
I don’t know much about dogs but my girlfriend insists that I’m an otter.

4. What’s your walk-on music going to be?
It’s a song called Drunk Girls by a band I used to gig with in Montreal called Dirt Cheap Winos. It’s a great sexy dirge of a bar song and brings me back to my beloved, unwelcoming basement bar Grumpy’s in Montreal.

5. Who will you be living with and how do you expect that to go?
I’m really lucky this year. I’m with John Hastings, Phil Jerrod, Evelyn Mok and Ian Smith. They’re all acts that I love and friends of mine and best of all, really easy to be around. The month’s a slog near the end and having nice calm people around makes a huge difference.

6. What will your daily routine be?
Wake up, write something funny, shower, meditate, exercise, eat breakfast, nap, do a bunch of spots on mixed-bill shows, nap, eat dinner, sit in a park with a book, nap, do my show, drink with friends, sleep.

7. Do you enjoy the Fringe?
I love the Fringe. It’s my favourite month of the year. It’s summer camp for comedians. I get to just hang out with my friends and do what I love every day. What’s not to like?

8. What’s your best barman move?
The one the customers loved was flipping a glass full of ice over my shoulder behind my head (and of course catching it) but my favourite was whenever anyone waved money around to get my attention I’d take it, put it in my pocket, say “Thanks for the tip” and then serve them last. That was really fun.

9. Well done on not calling your show “All Betts Are Off” or “Place Your Betts” etc. Were you tempted though?
Haha, not even a little. Puns are a really British thing. Plus I’ve heard both of those along with “Bet on Betts” at least monthly since I was 9 or 10. Comic friends keep throwing different puns at me hoping me to change my mind. The only one I’ve even considered was “B-B-B-B-Benny and the Betts”.

10. Which is better, watching people or talking to them?
This is a brutal answer but it depends on the people. I love talking to people but some people will never tell you the truth. Then from watching them even for a minute or two you can normally figure it out for yourself.

But better than both is listening to people. A lot of the time I’ll barely say anything, I just ask questions and encourage people to keep going. A lot of the time you don’t even have to ask. If you leave a silence for more than 5 seconds after someone’s made a statement they’ll get nervous and tell you more about it, and normally by the third time they fill that silence they’re finally saying what they wanted to say in the first place. But it’s normally something they didn’t even know they wanted to say. Watching and listening. Taking it in, seeing patterns. People are delightful. I see a dozen acts of kindness a day. I see genuine affection and joy and silliness all over the place. And I hear people’s wanting to be good all the time. That’s most of what drunk people tell me at bars. Most people want to help. Most people feel powerless. Most people are alright.

Chris Betts: Social Animal is at the Pleasance Courtyard at 9.45pm, 5th-30th August (except 17th)

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