Griefcast’s Cariad Lloyd: ‘Laughter? It’s about survival. It’s about living’

After her standup success and podcast about death, the comic’s next step was obvious: starring in a cancer-ward romcom

It wasn’t, I assume, the toughest decision in the history of casting. Who you gonna call, Finborough theatre, to star in your new play about a comedian and improviser grieving her dead sister and tending to her dying mum? A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City (yup, that’s the title) could have been written for Cariad Lloyd: comic, improviser and creator of Griefcast, the award-winning podcast about death. Talk about typecasting. Getting to grips with the role of Karla was hard, says Lloyd, “because I had to keep reminding myself, OK, this is where she’s not me.”

In fact, the play is a 2016 off-Broadway success, whose writer, Halley Feiffer, is now working on a new Jim Carrey sitcom. Its maiden UK production coaxed Lloyd back to theatre after years in comedy, improv and, latterly, parenting. “I’d wanted to do a play again for ages,” she tells me over tea on the afternoon of Funny Thing’s opening night. “But initially, because of the baby” – her daughter is 22 months old – “I wanted to say no. Then I read the script and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s really funny. It was annoying, but the part was just really funny.”

A Funny Thing Happened… is at the Finborough theatre, London, until 27 October.

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Mat Ewins review – hi-tech gags from multimedia noodler extraordinaire

Just the Tonic at the Mash House, Edinburgh
Artistry and geekery combine in a set that shows off Ewins’ clever video editing and pranksterish sense of fun

Brexit. #MeToo. Editing a newspaper on Mars. One of those isn’t a popular topic among fringe comics. Indeed, I can imagine only one comedian making a show about it. Step forward, Mat Ewins, 2017 comedy award nominee and multimedia noodler extraordinaire. Last year, he unleashed his fiendish programming and editing skills – and all-conquering sense of fun – on a spoof Indiana Jones epic. Now he ventures deeper into hi-tech tricksiness – but also reveals more of himself – in this tenuous foray into interstellar media.

It’s ceaselessly inventive and daft – and it’s “piffle” (Ewins’ word) too. How else to describe his videos of football matches with the ball removed, or his all-new Martian sport that involves catching cats with a magnetic moustache. The newspaper narrative is only ever a thread from which to hang these techie sketches, and even its denouement is constructed as a video game, in which the audience controls Ewins’ editor character in a high-stakes – and highly-ridiculous – job interview scenario.

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Booze, bankruptcy, brain haemorrhage: the comics turning tragedy into laughs

A former alcoholic, a cancer survivor and a man who lost all his money in a Bitcoin crash are among the comics coming back from the brink at the Edinburgh fringe

I didn’t start drinking until I was 18,” says Matt Rees. “That’s quite a rarity for someone in the UK. But straight away, I recognised that I liked it – and I knew that one day I’d have to stop.”

Rees, who was born in Maesteg, south Wales, is making his debut at this year’s Edinburgh fringe with Happy Hour, a look back at his battle with alcohol. He started performing in 2010 and quickly scooped up some new act awards. Then, two years ago, his comedy career stalled as he experienced problems with addiction.

‘It’s normal to go on stage after a few pints, and it’s fine to be hungover the next day. Someone with a normal job would’ve been fired’

Related: 50 shows to see at the Edinburgh fringe 2018

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Is Facebook killing online comedy?

Job cuts at Funny or Die suggest making money from comedy videos is harder than ever – and some blame the social-media titan. But a new wave of creators are finding ways to thrive

Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to the social network’s algorithm. “You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media,” he wrote in, predictably, a Facebook status. “The public content you see … should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Less than two weeks later, longstanding comedy video website Funny or Die made another round of redundancies, after laying off roughly 30% of its staff in 2016. The website’s CEO, Mike Farah, vented his frustration, tweeting: “There is simply no money in making comedy online any more. Facebook has completely destroyed independent digital comedy.”

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