Ivo Graham brings his debut show Carousel to the Park Theatre in June

What price a brain that could let go? You’d pay any price for that brain.
Ivo’s crippling addiction to the past, now in more self-parodying territory than ever as he literally names his show after the most nostalgic scene of the most nostalgic TV show, is something that, in the long run, he wants and needs to let go of. In the meantime, however, he’s turned it into a career. And this year, in this show, he’s taking it to a whole new level.
People will splash about in the shallow end with you, but they might not come out to sea.
After eighteen months of house arrest, Ivo returned to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 with a story to tell, a story that was about a lot more than just doing gigs on Zoom and waiting for the pubs to re open. Although there was a fair bit of that too, of course. As his comedy veered closer to #realtalk than ever before, and he wrestled with how much patience comedy audiences might have for the wranglings of his inner life, a side-quest of purest destiny appeared before him: the theatre section.
You hold onto everything in your life even though you know more than anyone just how much damage that can do.
2022’s My Future, My Clutter had already exorcised a fair few of the ghosts of Ivo’s childhood, dredged up and dusted off during a lockdown spent in his parents’ house. In 2023, over the course of ten clandestine work-in-progresses in the Pleasance Green, he brought the full feelings box out to play. Rejected Taskmaster prizes, receipts that changed everything, remembrances of loved ones on the other side,: rarely has so much of a life been unpacked in an hour, or so deftly. An experiment intended as a low-key overshare instantly felt like something he wanted to take further. And in 2024, here we are.
You know that talking doesn’t become theatre just because you put music underneath it.
In Carousel, Ivo’s obsession with music as a mirror for his own mental state – now being more aggressively platformed in Gig Pigs podcasts, radio round tables, and his desperate lunge towards becoming a DJ – has found a thrilling new purpose. Long convinced that he was more qualified than anyone else to pick the songs for the house party, the road trip, even the birth of his child, Ivo has woven the music of his life into the story of his life to thrilling effect here: a series of calculations that will raise the hairs on your neck and have you grasping for the playlist link on the way out. He can’t write music, but he sure knows how to cue it.
No one else lives like you do.
In some ways this show is not a million miles from Ivo’s stand-up: one man, alone onstage, picking over his past. But in tone and execution it is completely different: a searing monologue addressed not to the audience but to himself. It’s the most highly evolved navel gazing piece of work you’ll see but it’s also some of the most gripping. It is the product of a single train journey and the work of an entire life. Come and let it blow you away.

Ivo has spent his entire adult life on the stand-up circuit, winning So You Think You’re Funny? aged 18 in 2009 and since establishing himself as, if not the UK’s poshest, then certainly its most apologetically posh comedian. With a bumbling charm to snare audiences of all ages, he’s detailed the various developments in his relationships/neuroses over seven sell-out solo shows, including 2019’s The Game Of Life, which received nominations for Best Show and Best Joke at that year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

He’s appeared on TV comedies including Have I Got News for You, QI, The Last Leg, Mock the Week, and Live at the Apollo, quizzed with varying degrees of success on Pointless, House of Games and University Challenge, and toured the country with Fern Brady and Darren Harriott for Dave’s six-part travelogue British As Folk. He’s earned his parents’ respect with appearances on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, The News Quiz, Just A Minute, and the drama Unite. And he’s shoehorned Swindon Town references into many an episode of BBC 5 Live’s Fighting Talk and BT Sport’s The Football’s On.

More than anything, though, Ivo’s perhaps best known for his visits to the tripe factory in the Quickly Kevin podcast’s Steve Barnes episodes, and his love of bananas and yoghurt leading to him being the victim of a prank on Off Menu’s Redemption Dinner Party during lockdown 3. With these cult contributions under his belt, in 2023 he finally started hosting (alongside best friend Alex Kealy) his own podcast, Gig Pigs, a heroically cost- and time-inefficient celebration of their love of live music. 2023 also saw Ivo appear as a contestant on the fifteenth series of Channel 4’s Taskmaster.

Ivo has also just announced that on 26 September Headline will be publishing his first book Yardsticks For Failure.

Yardsticks For Failure is a deep dive into the various facepalms of Ivo’s recent past and a live diary of his unravelling present, where his solution to the general bedlam of his life has been to pile his plate higher than ever before. Longer-term resolutions of rest and relaxation can wait; in the meantime, he’s trying to host the greatest club night of all time, run a Sub-3 marathon while pushing a wheelchair, and put his heart on the line in a show unlike anything he’s ever done before.

This is a gleeful glimpse behind the grubby curtain of stand-up comedy, via friendship and films, fatherhood and Funkytown. A feast for anyone who’s ever been enthralled or appalled by Ivo’s cursed politeness, squandered promise, or serial prank-victimhood; for anyone battling to get their own life inbox to zero; for anyone who’s ever set fire to a diary, lost their mind over a quiz, or pegged it through a station for the last train home. Yardsticks For Failure is a unique self-examination from one of the most eloquent writers and worriers of his generation. Ivo almost certainly won’t achieve everything he sets out to, but it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

Tickets & information: https://parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/ivo-graham-carousel?gad_source=1