Ben Goldsmith set for CrimeLandTown preview at The Pen Theatre

Affectionate spoof of mob movies is set for month-long run at JustTheTonic for the Edinburgh Fringe

Image shows a smiling man with blue eyes and red hair in a black and white check jacket and white T-shirt in front of Billingsgate Fish Market's red brick buildings
Comedian Ben Goldsmith, also founder and director of Goldsmith Communications

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Like many involved in the murky world of organised crime, Ben Goldsmith leads a double life.

By day, he’s founder and director of Goldsmith Communications – a public relations consultancy specialising in serving tech and venture capital clients.

But, by night, he can be found indulging his other passion – trying to make people laugh.

“Comedy is never a fork in the road decision – as a kid you know you’re a bit of an idiot and that plays out at school,” said Ben. “You just have it in you.

“I was used to teachers telling me off – that we should be getting on with maths rather than telling jokes.

“But my A-Level theatre studies teacher, Coral Walton at Monk’s Walk School in Welwyn Garden City, just thought it was great – that I was good at these things and she encouraged me.

“I don’t come from a family of performing people and it was Coral who, as a director at the local theatre, told me I should audition for a play she was putting on.

“This was never on my radar and I thought: ‘No way’ – it just wasn’t cool at 16.

“But she insisted and even drove me to the audition.

“I got the part and then, up until the age of 21, I did a bunch of acting stuff alongside university, where I worked on student papers and got into the world of journalism and PR.”

Comedian Ben Goldsmith mock-punches himself in front of an air vent to promote his show CrimeLandTown
Ben plays all the characters in his show CrimeLandTown

a move into comms

Ben’s career in communications then took over, seeing him move through various roles including running the PR operation for Canary Wharf’s tech community, Level39.

But he remained interested in the performing arts and especially comedy.

“Every August I’d go to the Edinburgh Fringe and I loved it,” he said. “It was like my perfect theme park, seeing comedians I liked and discovering new performers.”

After five years concentrating on his career, an encounter with Graham Dickson’s improv show at the festival sparked something in Ben and he returned to London, enrolled on a comedy class and started performing again.

“For years I did improvisation alongside my work,” he said.

“When I was 27 I set up Goldsmith Communications and the comedy was incredibly helpful because, when you’re setting up a business, every day is completely new and you have to adapt to it.

“The other brilliant thing about improv is that there are no lines to learn, so it fits in if you’re busy. It’s a huge part of my life – I met my wife through comedy.”

Ben narrows his eyes and peers at teh camera with his mouth half open
Ben Goldsmith says his show is an affectionate spoof of mob movies

Ben Goldsmith on his love for mob movies

The success of his PR business means Ben has a bit more freedom now to once again pursue comedy and he’s indulging another of his passions – Mafia movies – in a move away from improv.

“I’m making a show and taking it up to Edinburgh, which is massive,” he said.

“I took a piece called Steve’s Last Day to the Prague Fringe, which was all about a copper’s final shift with all the action taking place in the village hall.

“I did it six times and it went down really well, but I decided to put it aside because I knew what I really wanted to do.

“I’ve always loved mob movies.

“The characters are so much larger than life – they’re such a bunch of goofballs – so you can play with those stereotypes.

“I’ve been working on CrimeLandTown for the last year or so, building it up and presenting it as a work in progress.

“If you enjoy Mafia movies, you’ll enjoy the show.

“The idea is the audience is involved in what’s happening – you’ll always be a part of what’s going on.

“You might be part of a heist that one of my characters is leading, or guests in a club.

“You’ll meet mob bosses, the FBI and a bar singer who gets in too deep, then wants to clear his name.”

Comedian Ben Goldmsmith raises a finger in a mock salute while making a funny face
CrimeLandTown will have several previews in London before transferring to Edinburgh

playing all the parts in CrimeLandTown

For Ben, the show is a labour of love, poking fun at a genre rich in tropes and silliness, but from a place of respect.

Playing all the parts himself, it’s structured as a series of sketches that all combine to tell a story of wise guys and dodgy accents.

“I describe it as an affectionate spoof,” he said.

“People are familiar with these movies, which are often a bit like a high wire act because while they are about serious topics, many of them are also super funny.

“If you’re parodying anything, it’s important to work out what people already know – if you’re a nerd about those things, you’ve got to be aware how geeky you are.

“I’ve watched the movies and the TV shows, so I know what will be familiar to people who like the films, but hopefully a lot of the stuff will be funny to those who are not so familiar.

“In the show, the main character – a bar singer who always wanted to be a wise guy – sees the impending heist as a chance to live his dream of becoming a mobster.

“We’ve all had dreams and made compromises, so this guy takes a singing job in a mob-adjacent industry – then gets his chance to become part of it and it all ends one way or another.

“Of course, people who like the genre don’t want to see me take the piss out of them.

CrimeTownLand just aims to celebrate the funny things about them. “

Ben Goldsmith wears a pair of sunglasses and makes a silly face in Canary Wharf while promoting his new show CrimeLandTown
Ben says, like those in organised crime, he’s always wanted to push against the everyday

Ben Goldsmith on transgressing

“When you watch a mob movie, everyone in it is rejecting the conventional,” said Ben.

“They’re living outside the legal norms and everyone is transgressing. There’s a thrill in that.

“Personally, I’ve always wanted to push against the everyday too.

“Comedy is funny when people are trying to skewer the world and look at everything from a sideways perspective.

“Being at Level39, I was around a lot of business founders and it dawned on me that many of them just wanted to kick the crap out of the nine-to-five and do their own thing. 

“Similarly, people doing comedy want to see what’s out there and then to try and bend or break it, just like the characters in mob movies.

“Starting my own business totally changed my life.

“It’s now given me the time and the bandwidth to create shows and do these festivals.

“There’s a lot to do, but it works if you plan things.

“I know a bunch of comedians who are working and went into it without a safety net, but I needed to have the security of having the career side sorted.

“Right now I just love that I’m able to do it.

“When I first went up to the Fringe I didn’t know anyone who was performing.

“I wasn’t doing improv and my local theatre days were behind me.

“However, the people I met up there ultimately put me in the position to make this show now. Compared to others, it’s tiny – a 60-person room for 24 days in August.

“But hopefully it will be a step on the way to the next thing, whatever that is. 

“Either way, it’s been a dream to take a show to Edinburgh – it’s worth a go and it might just pay off.

“After the Fringe, I’d love to take it to more places round the neighbourhood.

“I’m keen to keep going because it’s just a really fun thing to do.”

So, you’ve got the dates. Just remember, don’t forget about it.

our thing

Ben Goldsmith’s CrimeLandTown will be performed at The Pen Theatre in South Bermondsey on July 11, 2024, at 7pm. Tickets cost £8.30.

Ben Goldsmith will also be performing his show at Watford Pump House on July 20, 2024, and Aces And Eights in Tufnell Park on July 25, 2024, before taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe at JustTheTonic from August 1-25, 2024.

Find out more about the show here

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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