So, what can we expect from this year from "Red Noise"?
Red Noise will be an afternoon of poetry and stories with the emphasis on the poetry. I will be reading from my new collection. Sometimes the word poetry can put some people off and although I will be under 'The Spoken Word' section this year, there will be plenty of humour in the show and it will never be the same every day. There will be music inserts and I will change the format around depending on how I feel. I will also write a love poem for anyone in the audience who wants one and has never had a love poem written for them before.
How much of it is written?
The majority of the poems are written, but I will be performing most of them for the first time which is always exciting and daunting.
When was your 1st Edinburgh festival?
I did my first Edinburgh festival in 1985 at the Pleasance Bar. It was the first time anything had been done there. I was part of a show called the Malvinas Cabaret. It was a chaotic variety show with people dropping in doing spots. It was hosted by Chris Parisi and Andy Lynden who played two renegade Argentinian soldiers.
Why did you come?
I came because I had been doing comedy and poetry full time then for two years and everyone was talking about the Edinburgh Festival it was a sort of right of passage I guess.
What did you expect?
I had no idea what to expect. I didn't really think about it. I just took the plunge.
How did the reality differ from your expectations?
I remember being overwhelmed at first, as it was the first time I had performed 25 shows in a row. I didn't know how to pace myself then and usually didn't get to bed before 6am.
What is the best thing about the festival?
The Best thing about the Edinburgh Festival is the energy behind it. It's very intense and competitive. It makes you really focus and pay detailed attention to your work. It's no place for chancer's, you get found out very quickly in Edinburgh
What is the worst thing about the festival?
The worst thing is probably the expense. People know they can rip you off, so they do. That's why I always perform at The Stand. No one does a better fairer deal than Tommy Shepherd.
What has changed over the years?
A/ For the better
The biggest change I think is in the performers themselves. They are much slicker these days and very prepared. Comedians are doing Edinburgh previews now in March.
B/ For the worst
Sometimes I think being too slick and prepared is not what the essence of Edinburgh is about. In the early days I would to go to Edinburgh with a show that I would work on in the first two weeks and by the last two weeks it was in good shape. I understand now that things have changed and audiences rely more on reviews as Edinburgh is now so massive and comedy has reached saturation point. So performers have to hit the ground running and don't have that luxury of being given a chance and time to work things out.
Who is your favourite overall performer (s)? To say who my favourite performer is, is a tough one. I guess I love John Hegley. John is not only a great poet and performer he can also be funnier that most comedians and he's a lovely human being with a great generosity of spirit.
What is your favourite venue?
My favourite venue is The Stand without doubt one of the best comedy venues in the country all year round.
What is your favourite place to eat/drink?
There is a place in Stockbridge called the Scran and Scallie which is superb and run by a beautiful smart intelligent woman called Bridget Bradley. The food is mouth watering, eclectic and adventurous.
How do you keep sane throughout a month of mayhem?
I keep sane by going to bed before midnight and playing soccer in the meadows.
Owen, we saw you as Juror Number 8 in " Twelve Angry Men" in 2003. Was it a daunting prospect launching the first show featuring comedians acting?
No It wasn't daunting because I knew that all the comedians who had been cast were intelligent and motivated. They all came at it with a very positive attitude and proved all the doubters wrong which is always satisfying.
Has it been odd playing Juror number 12 in the recent production of the "Twelve Angry Men"? Could you recall any of Martin Shaw's lines?
No it wasn't odd, in fact it was very interesting watching someone else approach the role in a very different way from me and also make it work. Martin is a consummate professional and a great actor so he didn't need any hints from me. In any case it was ten years since I'd been in the play, so I'd forgotten quite a lot of it. Playing no 12 was a breeze as Juror number 8 is a tough role with a lot to remember.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?
I think I'm looking forward to performing new poems and stories to a different audience every night for a month....and to play a few games of soccer in the meadows.
To read more about the multi-talented Mr O'Neill's Fringe show click here:
or visit his website http://owenoneill.co.uk/