Interview: Martin Mor, comedian

Martin Mor by Poppy Hilstead

Martin Mor by Poppy Hilstead

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Don’t be afraid of this fella, Martin Mor is actually very nice... well, according to him

wHAT do Kick Ass author Mark Millar, a tattoo artist, a bunch of eight-year-olds and students at a life-drawing class have in common?

They’ve all been roped in to comedian Martin Mor’s latest Festival show, A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday, at The Stand II.

Our story begins at the 2011 Fringe when Mor, who has performed all over the world, found himself bemused by two very different reviews.

“I got a review from one publication, which said I was ‘utterly loveable and hilarious’, but for the very same show someone had put on Twitter that I was ‘like a rapist Father Christmas’. It got me thinking: How could two people see the same thing and come away with such completely polarised viewpoints?”

Wondering what it was people actually saw when they looked at him, Mor commissioned a series of portraits.

“I thought I was going to get half a dozen to use to create a backdrop for my show. I’ve ended up with more than 20.

“Mark Millar, who I did a bit of writing for me after he came to see me perform, is finishing one off as we speak. I also sat for a class run by Tom Wood. One of Yorkshire’s best known artists, he’s done portraits of people like Prince Charles and Alan Bennett. Mac, the resident artist of The Stand, has painted me too. ”

Being over six foot, with long hair, an even longer beard, plus many piercings and tattoos, Mor has often been misjudged on his appearance.

“I’m really friendly, though people might be a bit scared at first. Usually they get over that when they speak to me. To get a contrast I decided I needed to get some portraits done by people who’d never met me. Then I thought, what if I could take it one step 
further?”

One quick Twitter sweep later, Mor was put in contact with the wife of a man down in England who had seen him perform. However, his spouse had not – and more importantly, neither had the group of eight-year-olds she 
teaches.

“I sent them a photograph of me and she did a writing class with them where they wrote short stories about who they thought this character was and what he was up to.

“The stories are hilarious. One of the kids wrote: ‘This man’s a big giant and he’s so scary every time birds fly by if they see him they faint’.”

The children’s descriptions were then sent for interpretation to other artists who have never met or seen Mor, providing some interesting results. However, another group got to see slightly more of Martin than most...

“I posed nude for a life-drawing class, which is not something I’ve done before. I was running late on the day so didn’t really have time to be nervous, I just had to run in, throw my clothes off and strike a pose. But the class were all very serious about getting on with their art – to them you’re just a big lump of meat. Meat with tattoos.”

• Martin Mor: A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday, The Stand Comedy Club II, North St Andrew’s Street, until August 26, 8.10pm, £8, www.edfringe.com