Arts

Comedian, author and Spider-Man’s dad

By Mae Trumata

 

In a small sectioned room within the hidden alleys of Edinburgh, chaffing and warm, smelling like spilled alcohol and sweat, who would’ve known that the father of one of the world’s youngest and most successful actors of this generation, resides upstage with a bright smile against the glow of orange lights, and a nervous purpose to elicit laughter from the crowd of Fringe-goers.

Dominic, or Dom, Holland is the proud father of four boys, one of them being the latest cinematic iteration of the superhero Spider-Man. Despite the fame his eldest has brought upon their family of six, one he describes as “above and beyond anything” he himself “have ever experienced or will ever experience,” Dom enjoys the simple pleasures of which life has provided him, such as a trip to the beach of North Berwick with his family and finding time to visit a distillery despite his  hectic schedule.

Dom thinks Edinburgh is the most beautiful place in the UK and believes that Scotland itself has much to offer. However, his main purpose for his visit lies within the Fringe Festival.

“It’s the biggest window for comedy and means that you are current,” he says.

Having done a show at last year’s festival as well, he is hopeful of another in 2019 – if he can “think of more stuff to talk about” he adds tactfully on Twitter.

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Dom Holland has become a regular at the Edinburgh Festival. Credit: Edinburgh Fringe

It is during this very festival that allowed me the opportunity to chat with Mr. Holland. We met just outside of the Voodoo Rooms, a few minutes after his show has ended and all the other audience members have filed out of the venue and taken their opportunity to snag selfies and quick chats. It is a cold and wet summer day, and despite the light shower of rain, he is still willing to indulge a small struggling journalist, extending a warm smile as he agrees to be interviewed. It feels so surreal for him to be so kind, the father of a famed actor, performing a free show at the Fringe, willing to do an interview for a small time student newspaper – it is sort of surreal.

His passion for his craft glows as he talks about his current show for this year’s Fringe, named ‘The Glory Year’, with the message behind it as living for the moment and making every day ‘glory’. When asked about what he learns from his performances, he comments:

“Every show is the same but for the fact that the audience varies each night and they have much to bring. Sometimes the room might be flat and I need to spark them up with some audience participation and other times they’re just great and I can do my show.”

‘The Glory Year’ is a brilliant watch, filled with plenty of family anecdotes, smooth transitions from one joke to another, and Dom’s comedic timing is just short of perfect. A lot of his material creatively involves his family, one way or another, particularly his eldest, Tom Holland. Tom currently plays Peter Parker, also known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man, and Mr. Holland addresses this a few times throughout his routine.

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Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/CTMG and Marvel Unlimited

“I don’t set out to use my family for comedy – it’s really just what occurs to me and what I can make people laugh with,” Dom says, and while it is a wonder how a family of a very successful actor and a comedian of his ranks can live to be so grounded, he assures us that they are indeed “just a normal family but doing odd jobs”.

“We can help people – why wouldn’t we want to do so? It’s a privilege.”

These odd jobs of theirs is what gives them the opportunity to become further involved in the works of philanthropy. Armed with the help of his four boys, Dom and his wife Nikki have set up the The Brother’s Trust, a newly established charity that makes use of Tom’s reach and popularity. The Brother’s Trust gives exposure to charities that struggle to be heard and recognised, especially those that make the most effective use of funds for the people in need. The trust is a family effort, but his appreciation for his wife is clear as he emphasises the role she plays, describing her as the “driving force” with “a close team of four and the rest of the family offering support”.

“My family have long been involved in charitable endeavours – my mum at her old age is still helping people and so it seemed a natural thing to do,” Dom says.

“Plus, I think it’s a good way to keep Tom and my boys grounded. And because we can help people, why wouldn’t we want to do so? It’s a privilege.”

“Victim culture is pernicious and dangerous for young people.”

He understands the climate of today’s society, so it is no surprise that he and his family are rallying for change and improvement with what privilege they have and with what they can do. He also acknowledges other social issues, including the politics surrounding our everyday lives. However, as a comedian, he doesn’t let that affect his craft, even braving the tide by indulging in some political and controversial topics within his show. He comments:

“I think people nowadays are looking to take offence too often and victim culture is pernicious and dangerous for young people.”

His words are strong, and while Mr. Holland is a simple man who insists ordinary – just the type to wear an outfit from T.K. Maxx during Wimbledon as his son struts around clad in a suit by Ralph Lauren – he is still a man with an obvious impact to the people who look up to him. Regardless of Tom’s fame as a hero looked up to by children, the man in glasses with a pink shirt on underneath his thick black coat, grinning toothily at me, also has an origin story telling.

And while our talk is short, he leaves me still with me a small piece of advice to share with you all. Spider-Man’s dad has had his fair share of ups and downs, after all, and he wants to give us university students, unsure of where we’re going and what lies ahead, a bit of reassurance:

“Just live in the present – do your best, dare to dream and don’t give up. Unless you give up – you never fail!”

Mae Trumata was speaking to Dom Holland at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival

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