He did really weird stuff as a kid
in the name of trying to be funny.
Some would say he still does.
in the name of trying to be funny.
Some would say he still does.
This is just a level check at the beginning.
Do you think you have always had the ability to make people laugh?
No. No, I was not funny as a child. And had to…well that’s not true. I was kinda fun…I was obsessed with making people…with wanting to be funny. And I was obsessed with the funny grown-ups that I knew. And I would always try and be funny and then not make people laugh when I tried to be funny. Because I didn’t understand, what made people…I didn’t understand humour at all. I would make people laugh when I wasn’t trying to be funny. And erm, wouldn’t be able to figure out why. And so just spent my whole life trying to figure out how to be funny until…I think I learnt how to be funny in secondary school, when you learn how to do all your socialising and stuff. And I think I learnt it in secondary school, I learnt how to be the funny one in the group. But, err, yeah. I have definitely not always had the ability to make people laugh. I always tried to make people laugh.
Like a training process?
Yeah, so in primary school I was the annoying kid who would jump out and say something that doesn’t make sense. And do like err, a err, an impression of a cartoon cat or a Looney Tunes character. And think that was enough to be funny, or you know…I did, I was really…I did really weird stuff as a kid in the name of trying to be funny. Erm, and didn’t understand at all why it wasn’t funny.
Can you remember how your first stand up gig went?
It went very well, yeah. If it hadn’t gone very well, I probably wouldn’t have done it again. Because my first bad ones, were excruciatingly bad and I took it personally. And I think if that had been my only experience of stand-up then I never would have gone back to it. Because it really, it just…words can’t describe.
Where was it?
It was in Kettering, my first one was in Kettering and my first bad one was in Kettering as well. But erm, my first one was in Kettering and it was like a nice, friendly crowd and they knew it was my first gig and they all really got behind me and I was more confident than I thought I was going to be. And I found it easier than I thought. I really enjoyed it and got like, the taste for it. And err, I think my third gig or maybe my fourth gig was my first bad one. And it was just silence through the whole thing. And err, it…you just feel…I can’t describe how bad it feels the first time you have a bad one. You just, you feel like you, yourself, are…an idiot. And that you don’t have a clue what you are doing. It’s not like, in a band. I used to be in bands where if no one liked us then we’d go away and go: ‘they just didn’t get it, doesn’t matter, they are not ready for this’. But when you are a comic and no one is laughing…that’s pretty unanimous that I wasn’t funny and I definitely made everyone in that room feel awkward. And erm, especially at the beginning when you don’t understand what you are doing. So like I didn’t fully understand what I was trying to do anyway, so when it goes badly, I was like: ‘I don’t understand why it went badly and I don’t even understand why that was meant to be funny because no one even laughed’. You do go ‘why is this funny again? I haven’t got a clue.’ And so, it feels horrendous. And yeah, if my first one had gone that bad, I would have just thought: ‘right, there is no way I can do this’. But because it went well, you get the bug of it and you wanna go back and do it. Even if you have had a really bad gig. Which is err, a fairly interesting attribute of comedians; that they can have an absolutely humiliating experience and try and get back on stage the next day. Which is, you know, probably unhealthy.
Where does the inspiration for your material come from?
You kind of take it from everywhere, it’s like anything people create, you just err, try and make things that you are interested in, relevant to what you’re doing. Try and make it the subject matter so that you’re not bored when you are doing. Like when you are painting a picture, you don’t want to get half way through painting and go: ‘awwh! I don’t give a fuck about rabbits! I don’t know why I’m painting this!’. So when I’m going to go on stage every night, I want it to be something I’m interested in or you know…yeah just stuff that there’s something in it that makes me want to talk about it. And I can have routines that work really well but I’ll get rid of them because I’m not interested in the subject matter anymore. I just don’t want to go onstage and just not feel like I’m there and just…which you know, probably career wise, isn’t the smartest thing to do. But like err, I just can’t…
Maybe you need someone there, telling you what to say.
Yeah, yeah! We probably need a responsible adult around. I’m getting by on this, so while I’m getting away with this…I’m doing it.
Do you have any plans to release a live DVD?
(Laughs) No. Err, because err, no way do I have the distribution or the audience for that. So, err…no. I might, record the show I’m taking to Edinburgh this year at some point. But it wouldn’t be to release as a DVD, it would be for my own…
A YouTube channel?
It wouldn’t be for YouTube, no no. I would kind of just have it for myself and I’ll give it to anyone who wants it. Erm, but erm, I don’t think there is a…no way could I release a DVD without a huge loss of money.
After being in The Wow! Scenario, your band, do you ever miss being musical?
Yeah, yeah. But I miss everything that I’ve ever done. So like, I’m nostalgic and I idealise everything and miss it. Yeah, there is some times that I won’t miss it as much as I used to. I used to really…when I didn’t know what I was doing with comedy, I used to really miss being in a band and I used to really resent Graham and err, you know. (Laughs)
Did he split it up then?
Well he didn’t…well…yeah. He wanted to do other things. It’s completely understandable. He wanted to go travelling and stuff. And he was worried the band wasn’t going to work. Erm, so I secretly took it out on him for a while. I never actually took it out on him because I knew it was unreasonable. Yeah, you miss stuff like that and erm, but you know. I miss working in a school sometimes. And erm, I miss being on holiday in certain places. Really, with the band, we recorded it all at the end and we made an album. Again, it was just for ourselves. Like if I did a DVD now. Like, it’s just for ourselves and so you’ve got that there so there is no kinda like thinking ‘aww I never did anything with that. And feeling like it was unfinished, but we did finish it. And so erm, yeah I don’t miss it that much now but if someone said: ‘you can be in that band again or you can carry on doing this’ then I would carry on doing this. But erm, I’m really glad I did the band.
It’s a good album.
Thank you very much, you know, hope you are enjoying it.
What’s the best heckle you have ever received?
Erm. Erm. “I could read a poem if you like.” That was good, a lady put her hand up and said: “I can read a poem if you like” because it was going very badly.
Instead of your routine?
Yeah, the gig was going awfully and she was trying to be nice so she offered to read a poem instead of carrying on the way it was. And I let her do it, she got up and read a poem. That’s how the gig ended. So err, that’s my favourite one because it was friendly and nice. I don’t like the ones that are just mean and haven’t had any thought put into them.
What about the worst one?
Worst one, I don’t know. You get the worst ones that are just, people just shout: ‘awwh, I’m funnier than you!’. Something like that, and they are the ones that are the worst ones because it’s just so boring shouting that out. And err, it’s so easy to deal with. You just go: ‘ok, go on then, be funnier than me’ and they don’t and then they get really angry.
A viscous cycle.
Yeah, well you know I think if you are heckling aggressively at a comedy gig it’s because you don’t understand the comedy. And it’s made you get angry. Erm, and I think if you are the kind of person who gets angry when you don’t understand something, erm, then you are probably not the brightest. Or you know, the most secure of people. And when they heckle, there is really nothing you can say back that is going to calm them down. They are angry because they didn’t find something funny and that means they probably got bigger problems. They are the worst ones who shout stuff like that.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I got Edinburgh now, Edinburgh festival. So I’m doing a solo show there and then im going to do another leg of the Milton Jones tour and I’ve done a couple of telly things. That will be out on E4 in September, October. I was on Chris Anderson’s new programme ‘Show And Tell’.
Are you on a panel on that?
Yeah, well it’s not like a panel show like 8 Out Of 10 Cats. But we all sit on a sofa and we err, just chat and have nice conversations. And we have all brought along something to talk about. You get up and you talk about it for a bit. So they are filmed and another thing in August, coming out September, October time. I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s a bunch of comics sitting around a table, so you know. I like the things that are not competitive and they are nice and relaxed and friendly.
So one on a sofa and one on a table?
Yeah yeah, so you can just chat to people and not compete to be the funniest. I think there is enough of that. There is enough comedians doing that. I don’t really have any interest in that.
That’s cool, thank you!
Photography By Jack Parker
Photography By Jack Parker