Since first previewing his debut stand-up show No Scrubs in 2021, Michael Akadiri is taking the show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, playing at the Pleasance Courtyard Cellar at 8:30pm throughout August, with his show inspired by his life as a junior doctor. In 2020, Michael won Komedia’s New Comedian Of The Year Award, and reached the London final of the BBC New Comedy Awards last year, and his screen work includes The Stand Up Sketch Show for ITV2. Alongside being a comedian, Michael hosts two podcasts – You Shoe Know Better and MUGA (Make United Great Again), and as a junior doctor for the NHS, he was working throughout the pandemic. We chatted to Michael about his stand-up show No Scrubs, making his Edinburgh Fringe debut this year and working as a junior doctor.
Can you tell us about your comedy show No Scrubs and who do you think it will appeal to?
No Scrubs is about my life in the NHS, my life outside it and how these scrubs had me in court fighting for my freedom. When I’m in my scrubs, I’m seen in the medical sense of the word but when I take them off I’m seen as a scrub in the 90s R&B TLC sense and I have a lil fun exploring the two during the hour.
I think it’ll appeal to anyone who is keen for an inside scoop of the NHS, the life of a healthcare professional and the shenanigans we get up to outside of work.
What are you looking forward to most for making your Edinburgh debut at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe?
I think I’m most excited about getting the show out there. It’s been a long time coming, previewing the show at various fringes across the land and now it’s time perform it at the biggest stage of them all.
I liken it to an athlete preparing for the Olympics, we’ve done all the preparatory heats and prep – and now we just want to beat our personal best on the track!
How do you think you’ll find the experience performing to a Fringe audience?
I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Of course, the Fringe is based in a Scottish city but I’m not naïve to the fact it boasts an international audience. I’ve been conscious of that fact and I’ve tried to preview the show at various cities and towns across the country so I’m confident it’ll be well-received regardless of the age, demographic or political affiliation of the audience members.
How long have you been working on the show and has it changed over time?
The first preview of this show was in June 2021, not too long after we were allowed back out after the pandi. It’s been c. 30 previews since and yeah it has changed quite a bit since that first date. The title has changed, content altered, I’ve had a director come on board to provide that extra focus so whilst I think that first preview a year ago was a good one, I’m confident that it’s an even better show now.
You will be doing more previews of No Scrubs this month prior to Edinburgh, how are you preparing for the upcoming shows?
The July previews I’ve got lined up are more or less me tightening up the show, smoothing out transitions and enhancing out the performative aspects of the show.
I know what I’m going to say, know when (I’m going to be jettison any notes on stage from July too!) but I’ll be perfecting how.
I’ve done all the hard work getting my ducks in order, so it’ll just be the home run before the Fringe begins for real in August.
What is it like performing on The Stand Up Sketch Show for ITV2 and hosting/appearing on radio stations?
Both fantastic opportunities that I’m still grateful for!
The Stand Up Sketch Show was a lot of fun to do and the first time I’ve been in a proper TV studio. It’s crazy to think that jokes you’ve put together on the open mic scene will one day grace a national TV channel but that’s exactly what happened. Spirit Studios (the production company behind the show) were a delight to work with and I hope I get to work with them again soon.
Radio is also fun to do, no hair and makeup needed, just straight to the record! I think the main challenge is making sure your brain and your mouth are in tandem; you may have a great point but if your mouth doesn’t articulate what your brain is thinking, you run the risk of sounding real stupid!
I hope both my brain and mouth have been in tandem like Ant & Dec on all my radio records thus far and in the future too!
You have won the 2020 Komedia New Comedian Of The Year Award and made the London final of the BBC New Comedy Awards in 2021, can you tell us about this?
It’s always nice to get a bit of industry love and recognition, it lets you know that it’s not just you and your small group of friends who think you’re funny – people who can commercially benefit from you do too!
Putting being facetious to the side, both were fantastically run competitions and a joy to perform at. They have both given my career a leg up and I’ve undoubtedly been booked on better and bigger gigs consequently.
Particularly sweet when people ask ‘how’s ya lil comedy thing going?’ and I can be like, ‘check BBC iPlayer and let me know!’.
Where does your love of comedy come from and is it something you always wanted to do?
I guess I take pride and enjoyment in making others laugh and this is something I noted during university, we’d be in university committee meetings so quasi formal enviroments, and I’d take pleasure in punctuating these meetings with laughter, usually by responding wittily to someone’s comments.
It’s only something I decided I wanted to do in my mid 20s in truth. I thought I’d try stand-up at an open mic to see if I’m really funny, ended up being a gong show where the audience are encouraged to get you off stage, I lasted three-and-a-half minutes out of the five minute target and since then I’ve been hooked!
Not a requirement by any stretch as I know fantastic comics who have started very young, heck one of my GOATs, Dave Chappelle famously started at 14, but I do believe having a little life experience helps with stand-up, having a bulletproof point of view, attitude and perspective on topics allows for a better stand-up performance, in my opinion.
Would you want to hear about someone’s thoughts on the world when they’re not even assured of them themselves?
Do you have any favourite comedians to watch and what inspired you to write your own comedy?
As mentioned in the earlier question, one of my comedy GOATs is Dave Chappelle, but I’m also a big fan of Patrice O’Neal (RIP) and Bernie Mac (again, RIP). Of course, I want any comedian I see to make me laugh out loud, but I love a comedian that makes me think and consider a perspective that I haven’t pondered before and that’s exactly what all three do.
When putting together No Scrubs, I have prioritised laughs over anything else, but I also would like to leave the audience with a perspective that they ponder beyond the gig.
Hopefully I can resonate with them on that level.
Is there anything you enjoy most about performing your comedy to a live audience?
Easily the instant feedback. You find out right here, right now whether the audience like it, love it or loath it.
There are very few things that can beat the high, the euphoria you get from getting a whole room to erupt with laughter. You feel like a rockstar!
But you quickly get humbled when the bus driver who doesn’t know, or give a toss about what just happened on that stage, drives past you outstretched at the bus stop.
We understand you are a podcaster, can you tell us about it?
I love the DBS check y’all have done on me!
But yeah, I’m involved with two different pods. First is You Shoe Know Better, a collaborative effort with my long-time friend and most recently a comedian in his own right, DJ Jace. It’s a topical pod where we essentially look at the news from the antagonist’s shoes and ask ourselves, shoe they have known better? In the most recent series, we’ve had guests come on and reveal a time where they should have known better with some hilarious results!
The second pod is MUGA (Make United Great Again), part of the Touchline Fracas podcast family. A weekly pod full of United fans where we lament Manchester United’s woes. It’s full of banter and good vibes and more time acts like therapy for me after a bad result.
How do you find the experience being a junior doctor alongside having a stand-up career?
It ain’t been easy!
Fortunately, stand-up is an evening sport and, believe it or not, healthcare staff do get some evenings to ourselves so I ensure I book gigs for when I’m free. I think everyone should have a hobby outside of their work which gives them a release and a focus, stand-up comedy is mine but it’s just getting a lil out of hand… I doubt everyone’s hobby takes them to the world’s largest arts festival!
Was there anything that encouraged you to train as a doctor and how has it been so far?
Mrs Akadiri aka my mother!
As I say during my show, becoming a doctor was not my choice… It was my destiny!
Jokes aside, it’s truly a privilege to work as a healthcare professional and to help people at their time of need. There’s a lot of stuff, quite a lot of it, bureaucratic, that is required in order to provide said patient care which is frustrating and detracts from the enjoyable aspects of the job.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career as a junior doctor and as a comedian?
What time? LOL!
There ain’t none left after that!
I try (and losing this battle) to stay in shape via the gym or recreational football, so I dedicate what time I have to that or I’m either catching up with friends or family.
What plans do you have for your comedy once the summer shows have finished?
Ooo! Good question!
Quite a bit of that will depend on how well the summer goes…
But I do plan to capitalise on any clout or buzz I generate from Edinburgh in any way I can. I’d love to start doing some tour support, if there’s demand then tour the show myself but at the very least, get the hour recorded and uploaded so people who didn’t get to catch it at the Fringe get a chance to see it too.
I think it’s crazy that acts have put their heart and soul in producing an hour’s work and there’s no public record of it bar a few critical reviews.
You gon’ see this hour one way or another, that’s for sure!
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