Comedian raised his already excellent stand-up game last year with a show that mined personal trauma, Millerick says he just wants to bring people together and tell stories
'My wife has resolutely refused to nearly die, so far. That's putting a spanner in the works slightly.' If you've seen Garrett Millerick on stage before, you'll recognise this as quite a Garrett Millerick thing to say. Grumpy, misanthropic, verbose, ranty and highly opinionated, the comic's work has always been enjoyable, but last year it stepped up a level. His show, Sunflower, was initially written as a general two-fingered salute at the horrors of the world with light-hearted jesting around pop stars having to sell their trophies for cash, his own disdain for holidaying and why mixology is a dark art.
But then personal disaster struck when his aforementioned spouse suffered, but happily survived, an ectopic pregnancy. It meant that his show had to be swiftly rewritten for his Edinburgh August run and a new emotional heft was added to its second half.
'When I was getting into the more serious storytelling bits of it, I remained very conscious that this was a comedy show,' Millerick recalls. 'There had to be relief in there and jokes driving that narrative; you couldn't get lost in it just being a dark story which it had been in the early previews. The break had been very clean: the comedy stops and here comes this horrific story. The challenge then was to try and discover where the humour was in that story. Initially it was quite hard to do, but the reaction to it was such that people came to the show who had had similar experiences. They wanted to talk afterwards, so it became very cathartic.'
Now he's back with the early version of his next show, Smile, which like his 2018 hour is a Beach Boys reference. 'My agent and producer asked what I was going to call the next show and I said Smile, and they said that's great, that's really positive. Well, Smile was the name of the album that Brian Wilson was attempting to make in order to top his most creative achievement but never managed it. He didn't release it and became a broken drug-fuelled recluse for a couple of years. There is a joke in there somewhere.'
Admitting that he has four or five topics on the boil at the moment for Smile, he's firmly of the belief that a show's purpose eventually reveals itself once you get deeper into working on the material. 'There's probably a link between those things that I'm attracted to write about, even if I haven't codified it yet. But if I concentrate on that too much it probably won't happen.'
The next few weeks will be vital for Millerick, though, as one thing he's determined to avoid is arriving here in March with a half thought-out show. 'They don't let you fuck around in Glasgow. If it's not good enough they'll tell you.' Assuming he's on his finest form, there's little chance of Millerick coming to metaphorical blows with his Glasgow crowd. Now that his stand-up seems to be moving into a new gear, what is it that will drive him on further to try and reach greater heights?
'I really enjoy getting on stage and finding new and interesting ways to look at things. It's that thing of taking a group of people who have nothing in common and who you have nothing in common with, and then leaving the room at the end of it with something in common. It's about bringing everyone into your worldview … That sounds terribly wanky doesn't it?'
Garrett Millerick: Smile, The Vacant Space, Glasgow, Sat 30 Mar.