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Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp


Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp is a festival of ideas, knowledge, stories, books & adventures.

I have been a comedian for more than 30 years. I travel the world doing comedy. I almost drowned in Thailand, got maced in Paris and had my own Late Night Talkshow in the Netherlands. Whenever I can I will share my adventures with you on this Tom Rhodes Radio Smart Camp podcast.

Sep 17, 2014

This episode was recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Karen Koren is the queen mother of the Edinburgh Fringe festival. She has produced countless shows for the festival for over 30 years and it the operator of the Gilded Balloon, one of the cornerstone venues of the entire Fringe. 

It was important for me to do my Edinburgh debut with Karen at the Gilded Balloon because of a disaster I had experienced at the old Gilded Balloon (which has since burned to the ground) at the perennial late night show Late n’ Live many years ago when I was visiting the festival in August 2000.

That disaster and the notorious viciousness of Late n’ Live hecklers are discussed in the episode. Not only did I shatter that memory for myself I created the best possible new one from getting to perform my hour show every night at 9:15pm at the Gilded Balloon and be under the loving umbrella of Karen Koren. 

At the Loft bar of the Gilded Balloon where this conversation was recorded is the private bar for the performers of this venue who I bonded with, saw the shows of and hung out with until the wee hours of the morning. 

Karen has created such a welcoming atmosphere at this excellently run venue. Not Only does she bring in the best quality performers but the people who ran her venue I had met at Comedy festival in Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Canada and France. Even her staff are of the highest quality in live festival comedy entertainment. 

I enjoyed talking with Karen Koren every night, not just because she has the most dreamy hypnotic accent but also because of her gorgeous laugh. She helped to launch the careers of Alan Cumming, Eddie Izzard, Russell Brand, Tim Mincheon and Tom Rhodes.

I can’t say enough good things about this woman, she’s classy, she’s funny and she is wealth of comedy knowledge and history concerning British comedy and the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

She doesn’t bullshit anyone, she doesn’t beat around the bush and she has a strong opinion about the lack of substance from most American stand up she has seen. 

Looking back on my memory of doing the festival this year I think of Karen and the lively and funny conversations we had together most every night. At times it felt like I had a mother figure looking out for me and I grew in her warm loving embrace. The people who book other world wide festivals when they spoke with Karen she insisted they should book me or be missing out on one of the best comedians in the world. She was constantly telling people to go see my show and raving about how funny I am. It would plaster the hugest smile across my face her every endorsement. Because of the incredible experience I just had in Edinburgh August 2014 and all of the friends I made there I am inspired to write my ass off to come up with a new hour of material. 

I won’t go back too early with some watery shit, only hard hitting head cruncher jokes and stories because I would never want to disappoint Karen Koren by being any less than funnier than anyone else. I’m proud the hear in this conversation that her favorite part of my show was the real life stories where I wore my heart on my sleeve. She is the kind of person that if she likes you, you think “Well if Karen Koren thinks I’m great I must be pretty damn good.

At this moment when I post this episode it one of the most important weeks in the history of Scotland because they get to vote whether or not they want to be an independent country or to stay joint with England. Either way, in England they like to yell “Long live the Queen! God save the Queen!”

I just want it to be known that wherever I go in the world I will yell “Long live Karen Koren! God save Karen Koren!” It is my pleasure to present to you now the one and only Karen Koren!

Intro song: Cutting Room (Hot Pants) – Oceanliners

End song: Curtis Mayfield – Move on Up

Recorded at The Loft Bar in The Gilded Balloon – Edinburgh August 2014