SEAMAS Carey is the first to admit that his new Fringe show acted as a form of therapy.

Living in Cornwall during the height and aftermath of the Covid pandemic left him with a lot of thoughts he wanted to explore further.

Among them was nationalism. Specifically, what it means to be a nationalist and how we express a sense of where we are from.

“This show has been like long-winded therapy but just funded by the arts council”, Carey tells The National.

His new show Help! I Think I’m A Nationalist is one he says might leave audiences “more confused when they leave than they were when they arrived”.

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In an exclusive interview, he told The National about his thoughts on Scottish independence and why he thinks this show might strike a chord among a Scots audience.

Taking an interest

Unlike many comics, Carey (below) admits he never grew up being told to “get a real job” because, to be frank, his father didn’t have a leg to stand on in that sense.

“I grew up in a musical and theatrical household. My dad was a performer and a musician. They were very Cornish in terms of their identity and went out and made a name for themselves so I grew up with that being an acceptable way to make a living.

“I was never told to get a real job so I was a bit doomed from the start”, he says, laughing.

The National:

It did mean however that the process behind theatre and performance wasn’t something he had to discover for himself having grown up seeing the same show over and over.

He explained: “Because my dad worked with performers, I was able to go and see backstage and I could see the same show and the mechanics of how theatre was made.

“It wasn’t a distant or far-away thing.”

Living in Cornwall

When the first lockdown happened, all of Carey’s shows were cancelled which left him in Cornwall watching tensions rise as things gradually re-opened.

“These tensions have been here for ages. What was interesting was I remember seeing three hours back-to-back of Cornwall TV programmes and this dreamy, romanticised version of the place.

“But then another programme showed how high the poverty rate is here and the high reliance on foodbanks.

“The reality of people living here can be really s*** so I find that fascinating in and of itself and I’m witnessing it.”

Indeed, research by Action for Children showed that Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall showed that child poverty in 2021/22 had reached 30.4% of all children living in the constituency.

In the 12-month period from April 2022 to March 2023, over 36,000 emergency food parcels were distributed Trussell Trust Foodbanks.

Part of what the show asks then is if Cornwall is a place in its own right or if it’s just a holiday playground for the rich.

Carey says things really came to a head for him when the area started to open up after the pandemic.

“We just seemed to be open for business and the tension between locals and tourists heightened and it all came down to things like traffic and litter.

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“I could see why people could want to escape and I believe in the freedom of movement of people so I don’t want to stop them.

“But I found the nuance of the different aspects fascinating and found myself getting caught up in it.”

With issues mounting, there's no easy answer - something which Carey discusses in his new show. 

The show

Help! I Think I'm A Nationalist was developed after Carey interviewed people on both sides of the tourism debate for a podcast which was inspired by one incident in particular.

He explained: “I was driving along one day and a huge shiny Range Rover came up and went flying past me to overtake.

“I went to get angry but noticed he had a Cornish flag on his car and just briefly thought it was fine because he’s from here.

“I didn’t like that side of myself and it just made me start thinking about nationalism and how we express ourselves.”

The comedian says that he and director Agnieszka Blonska wanted the show to be both something that would apply in a small village hall or at a major arts festival such as the Fringe.

He says that he’s fascinated by Scottish nationalism but is “by no means an expert” so is excited to find out more during his time here. 

“In theory and intellectually I’m very interested and probably supportive of Scottish independence but the mechanisms and the way we do it are what’s fascinating for me.

The National: Carey says he has an interest in Scottish nationalismCarey says he has an interest in Scottish nationalism

“We have a national anthem, we have flags and all these little things so I want to talk about how we use them depending on what your viewpoint is or where you’re coming from.

“Oddly, I think this show is one that could apply and resonate anywhere.”

Help! I Think I’m A Nationalist is playing at the Lyceum Studio in Edinburgh from August 8-27 (not 14/21)Tickets are available HERE