The 75th annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival is about to go into its third week, and I got the opportunity to speak with stand-up comic and TikTok sensation Lukas Arnold about his show Platonic Love Triangle and his first experience at the international fringe festival.
“Overwhelming and exciting is the best thing to describe it,” Arnold says. “Edinburgh is a fairy tale.”
The Scottish city’s been home to the festival since 1947 when eight theatre companies just showed up at the inaugural, invitation-only Edinburgh International Festival. When they were summarily rejected for their alternative productions and denied space at traditional venues, they did what artists do – they made people listen to them, and unintentionally created the world’s largest art festival.
Coming from the alt-comedy scene of Brooklyn, New York, Lukas is no stranger to shows in strange places like basements, roofs, or backyards; but this festival was something entirely different.
“Every single bit of spare space is used for fringe shows” – Arnold said about the festival’s tradition to use unconventional venues. “I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm from an entire city to conspire like this.“
In preparing for his month-long residency in Scotland, his relatives informed him that “the city explodes with the festival and the streets get consistently packed.” While that may be true, the comic says it’s “nothing compared to Times Square in the summer. It’s packed, but way less sweltering. I forgot this is a way you can experience summer.”
With this year’s festival slated to be as large as it was pre-pandemic, that means there are hundreds, if not thousands, of shows in the Scottish city. The 2018 festival had over 55,000 performances of 3,548 shows, with nearly a third of them being comedy shows. “Early on in the festival, I had dreams of going out every day, seeing tons of shows, and taking trips to go see other parts of nearby Scotland.”
A few days in, he discovered those dreams were just a fantasy.
A lot of time and energy goes into “not only doing the show, but marketing, handing out flyers, walking everywhere.” Even still, Arnold has no hangups about the amount of work it takes to produce Platonic Love Triangle with his co-stars Wyatt Feegrado (Bettor Days on Hulu, Amazon Prime) and Otter Lee (Fairview on Comedy Central). “It’s still incredible. I already want to come back next year.”
Logistics and production aside, I asked Arnold what it was like to take his witty, storytelling style of standup to international audiences. “I wasn’t expecting audiences to be so easy,” Arnold told me. “I was readying myself for massive changes to be made to my standup in order to work here, but happily, very few changes needed to be made.”
The number of performances during the festival is not just an opportunity to showcase their talent, but it’s also afforded them the ability to hone some skills they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
“Before coming here, I very rarely interacted with the crowd,” Lukas told me. And It’s true; I’ve gotten the opportunity to see Arnold at mics, roasts, and shows around the city. His material is sharp and precise, without a single word out of place. As a comic, I get it. With jokes so good, why would you want to risk your performance on a random drunk variable in the audience?
Well, with 25 days of shows, the pressure is off. “With the luxury of the stage time I’ve had, I’ve gotten more comfortable doing crowd work.”
Though this is entirely speculation, that might be part of the secret to working with any audience, international or otherwise – being comfortable.
If you are in town for the Festival click here for tickets to Platonic Love Triangle, running through August 28th at ZOO Playground, Playground 2.
You can also view Lucas Arnold on tiktok here: @lukastarnold
Editor | Comic | Storyteller | Cohost @killyrdarlingsmic | Social Content Editor @notsolatelateshow | Co-Founder @write_hive