An Interview with George Egg
by Steve Crabtree / @stevecrab
George Egg is a comedian with something pretty niche. And he comes to the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax in November, with a brand new show about making food on the move. It’s time for trains, planes and automob-meals.
I had a lunchtime chat with him – not over any food, unfortunately – to find out a little bit more about ‘Movable Feast’, and learn how he comes up with this truly unique recipe for comedy…
So, ‘Movable Feast’. What’s it all about?
Well basically it’s a guide on how to cook on the move. The stage is set up like the inside of a garage and over the course of the show, whilst making the audience laugh with food-centric stand up comedy, I cook three plates of food. Three really good dishes as well – it’s not a silly, clowny gesture towards food. It’s real, proper, decent cooking. But I use totally unconventional things to do with travel. For example, I’ve got a laptop that I can cook with on the train. I’ve got a flame thrower which I use to cook mackerel in a hub cap. I use a real engine which I cook on, and I show you how to use tools to cook with when you’re stuck at roadworks. At the end of the show, the plates of food are carried out in to the foyer, and the audience can grab a fork and have a try of the dishes. So it’s a bit of comedy, a bit of education and a bit of cooking, but with an underlying message of being resourceful.
How did this even come about? How did you decide or find out that you could do this?
I’d been doing stand-up comedy for about 25 years. Still doing stuff with props, but very much the usual stand-up comedy. And at the same time I’d always been in to cooking. Then, about six or seven years ago I felt a little bit disenchanted with the comedy circuit and I genuinely contemplated retiring from it and starting up a cafe or cookery school or something like that. And just for my own amusement more than anything else I started cooking in hotel rooms… I’d do a show and stay in a hotel and started experimenting with the trouser press and the kettle and things. And I’d film it. And that got a really positive response, so I turned it in to a show! I called it ‘Anarchist Cook’ and like ‘Movable Feast’, it was about cooking with in a non-culinary environment. So I’d cook a meal using things you’d find in a hotel room and I toured the world with that one. And that’s when I realised I’d come up with a bit of a niche, so I created my second show ‘DIY Chef’. That was all about how to cook with power tools. Like a workshop environment using a wallpaper stripper, a blow torch and a paper shredder.
“I do lots of experimenting”
It’s very unique! Has anyone tried to copy what you do?
Well, no-one does it as a performer, but I’ve certainly had people get in touch on social media and say “Look! I’ve done a pizza in a hotel room!” or “I’ve made this under the bonnet of my car!” It’s lovely to see people try it and go ‘why not’! Why not try and be creative with other stuff!
Do you consider yourself to be a comedian or a chef?
I’d say I was a comedian who cooks. The comedy is what I’ve done for however long, and I’m not a trained chef, just a comedian who’s got a passion for cooking!
How do you come up with a new dish?
Well it’s kind of me landing in a particular environment and really thinking about what you’ve got around you. Say you’re travelling on a train and you’ve got the hand-driers in the toilets, the plug sockets… what can you do with tickets? And you do the same in an airport or something, and then I do lots of experimenting and development in my garden with my very understanding family!
You’re playing at Square Chapel in Halifax on 22nd November. Have you performed in Yorkshire before?
Yes I have, a few times. I did my ‘DIY Chef’ show at The Square Chapel actually, so I’m looking forward to coming back. And I’ve also performed the same show at the Piece Hall next door, in the Spiegeltent last Christmas. Yorkshire as a whole has got a very healthy comedy scene, and the Yorkshire crowd are a really good crowd. There’s something about that part of the world where the audience are lively and quite in to the comedy.
Ok, George. Final question. If you could choose one question that I haven’t asked you, what would that question be, and what would be your answer?
[Laughs] It would have to be…”Do you sell merchandise in the foyer after the show?” And my answer would be “Yes actually, I do! I’ve got recipe card sets for all three shows that I’ve done, which will tell you how to cook using unconventional items in three different environments!”
George Egg performs his ‘Movable Feast’ show at The Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax on Friday 22nd November.