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INTERVIEW: Alex MacKeith, Winner of the Musical Comedy Awards Main Prize 2021

David: Congratulations on winning the Musical Comedy Awards 2020 top prize! What does it mean to you to be crowned the 2020 champion?

Alex: Thank you! I was really happy to win with those songs. More than anything it means Ed Chappel and Tamara Cowan had the supreme skill and drive to run and reorganise a competition across a global pandemic. Like UEFA without the corruption.

David: How do you think your performance went at the awards?

Alex: I felt it went well. I was nervous as hell, and I took out a bottle of water which I never drank from, which in hindsight was weird.

David: Which of your fellow competitors stood out for you?

Alex: In fairness I watched the first half from the circle, I was backstage for the second. I loved Shelf’s set, really enjoyed Tom Taylor’s too. I caught the end of Amy Webber’s, and I thought she smashed it.   

David: How did it feel to be up on a stage in front of an audience after such a long, enforced (covid-based) hiatus? 

Alex: It felt great, I’d really missed performing to a live audience. I thought the Bloomsbury did a great job of keeping everyone safe and distanced, and leaving paper bags of booze under people’s seats, prohibition-style, a practice I think should continue everywhere.

David: How important for comedy music is it to have competitions like the MCAs?

Alex: I think the Musical Comedy Awards is the only one of its kind, so it’s really important in that respect. And if you look at the number of awesome acts who’ve performed in it early in their careers, you’ve got to conclude it’s a great culture for nurturing and supporting new musical comedians. 

David: Britain has a rich history of musical comedy: if you could choose any artist to duet with who would it be?

Alex: I would die to play rhythm guitar for Bill Bailey. Same for The Mighty Boosh, if they fancy reforming. 

David: Which of your songs showcases your musical comedy talents best? And why? 

Alex: I’ve got one about fear which I very much enjoy doing and is kind of my version of Bowie’s “Station to Station” or “Blackstar” (the songs, not the albums). I mean in terms of musicality it’s obviously not in the same universe, but it’s got four distinct parts and opens with a quote from FDR, so it feels more Bowie than the rest of my stuff.

David: What are your plans for the future? And where can people see you performing next? 

Alex: I’m doing a work in progress of new songs at Country Mile comedy festival on 27th July at 9pm. Will hopefully be doing a couple of shows at the Vault Festival early next year. And I’m always at Fresh Chestnuts at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, a lovely new material night run by Ben Pope.

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