Wednesday 24 August 2011 | By

Brett Goldstein: Fawlty Towers with tits – growing up in a strip club

ED2011 Comedy ED2011 Interviews ED2011 Week3 Edition

Brett Goldstein

Festival veteran Brett Goldstein is back in Edinburgh to tell the general public all about his time running a strip club in Marbella. It all sounds pretty intriguing, so ThreeWeeks investigated. Well, asked a few questions, anyway.

CM: Your show has a very interesting theme. Tell us more.
BG: The show is about the time when my dad had a mid-life crisis and bought a strip club in Marbella, instead of a new car, and how I ended up running it. It was a strange time, particularly as none of us had any experience of this sort of world before, and my dad had assumed that all businesses run the same. He had previously run bookshops and assumed it to be a similar practice…  Just instead of selling books, you’re selling dances….  The one thing he did not count on, was that when you open a strip club, no matter how clean you run it, it will attract the underworld. It will bring them right to your door whether you want it or not. The show is very much about this world, and about what happens when you live in this sort of environment for too long. But, you know, funny.

CM: It sounds like the experience you had might have been, well, traumatic, to an extent. Is this show cathartic for you? Where’s the humour?
BG: The experience had its fair share of trauma I suppose, but on the other hand, it was a hell of an adventure and I feel very grateful for having had it. I suppose there was some catharsis in the actual writing of the show; I have been mulling over this story for ten years, so to get it out feels good I think, but at the same time, it also makes me very anxious. There are things I talk about in the show, and people, that may not want to be talked about.  It is why I set up a very strict ‘circle of trust’ at the beginning of every show.  As for the funny, well, look, once you get past the darkness, with a little perspective the whole thing is utterly ridiculous. It’s like a farce. It’s about a series of stupid men who wandered blindly into a fantasy world they had literally no idea about and how they stumbled about causing trouble and destruction and trying not to get killed.  Its like ‘Fawlty Towers’ with tits.

CM: Do you make any general moral judgement about strip clubs, or do you only approach it in the context of its effect on you?
BG: I can only talk about it in relation to my experience. Strip clubs are individual. Some have nicer atmospheres and environments, and some are fucking dark hell holes. I have no moral objection to strip clubs, I completely understand why they exist and what purpose they purport to serve. I did however, find, in my experience, that strip clubs don’t bring a lot of happiness to anybody. They are weirdly conservative places that pretend to be transgressive. In a normal club you can kiss a girl and connect and fall in love (go to Espionage any night of the week) but in a strip club all you can do is watch a made up version of that life. I think it becomes damaging to the psyche after a while. If all you are doing is playing a game, then when is it ever real? I saw too many women corrupted and saddened by the hollowness of it, and too many men turned strange by it. But that was just what I observed…  I’m not the president.

CM: We hear you switched from acting and writing to stand-up – what made you change? Can you see a time when you’ll go back to acting or writing?
BG: I still act and write on occasion.  I love stand up because it is the most pure of all of them. You can just do it. You don’t need anything. You don’t need equipment, you don’t need a manager, you don’t need producers, you can just turn up. You can think something in the afternoon then say it that night. You’ll probably die on your arse with it but at least you got it out of your system quickly. I first tried stand up cos it was the thing I was most scared of. I thought I would do it once and never tell anyone. My first gig went well so I carried on. The next thirty gigs were fucking disasters, but I had that first one to remember which kept me believing that one day it could happen again. Fingers crossed!

CM: Steve Bennett’s review of the show suggests that it would make a “cracking film”. Have you thought about writing a screenplay of it?
BG: I have so many stories from that time that I have often considered it in many other mediums.  Truthfully, I have been approached by a couple of producers who are interested in the film rights.  But, honestly, I am so jaded by the industry; when they offer to buy the rights, instead of thinking “YEAH!”, all I hear is, “How would you like to spend four years in development while people you don’t trust take the heart and soul out of your idea until it’s a husk of a thing you no longer recognise which they’ll either abandon, or make for no money in a way that makes it look utterly abysmal and leads everyone you know to not be able to look you in the eye again?  Would you like that?  And here, here’s no money for the privilege!”  I love doing the show because love it or loathe it, it is my version, and it is so simple to do. This is the show I wanted.

CM: Are you enjoying Edinburgh? Is the show going well?
BG: This is my ninth time in Edinburgh and I am addicted to it.  It is a big part of my life. I feel exhausted by it. It’s like an abusive parent. I keep coming back in the hope that one day it will show me some love. The show is going well, thank you. I enjoy it most of the time except for when they are quiet and I want to cry inside. The very best show I have seen is Gregory Charles; I have literally seen it every night since I first saw it and will keep going until he, or I, die. It is unbelievable… When I grow up I want to be Gregory Charles. As for non music recommendations, may I suggest the fabulous Lou Sanders in ‘How To Be Awesome: An Introduction’.  She is fucking funny. When I grow up I want to see Lou Sanders.

Brett Goldstein’s show ‘Brett Goldstein Grew Up In A Strip Club’ was performed at the Pleasance Dome during Fringe 2011.

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