What comedy most inspires you?
I saw a piece by William Blake at the Tate Britain earlier this year, it had a man in pain and a skeleton, both on fire and underneath it said “everything is an attempt to be human”, I think that’s what I’ll call my next fringe show because it made me think about how so many people put themselves through hell because they feel inadequate but if we just took a step back and looked at it we would see that we’re good enough already. I’m not an expert but I like to think that’s what Blake meant by the piece, its sort of a dark joke, saying “why are you putting yourself through this, you’re already a complete human”. I also find farts funny.
Which comedian most inspires you?
So many! I love how Fin Taylor is making genuinely edgy and challenging material which is also intelligent and thought provoking, same with Frankie Boyle who I think is absolutely at the top of his game right now and one of the best political commentators and comedians. I also like silly stuff (which is often the most clever type of comedy), The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Review make me howl with laughter. There’s a bit in their set at the moment where one of them uses a mop to do an impression of Boris Johnson and I can’t explain why it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen but it is. Sarah Kendall’s fringe shows are always incredible, her ability to just tell a story with no theatrics but make it more gripping than any blockbuster movie is incredible. Also John Kearns, Lucy Porter, Angela Barnes, Andrew O’Neill, basically the whole circuit, there’s so many good people out there doing great stuff.
Which comedian scares the shit out of you because you know you'll never be that good?
Doug Stanhope’s bit about assisting his mother’s suicide is one of the most incredible pieces of writing ever. It’s so dark and brutal but so full of compassion and love at the same time AND it’s got loads of really funny jokes in it.
Why and how did you get into comedy?
I did a whole show looking at this. Basically I grew up autistic but not diagnosed, I found it hard to have two way conversations and I had a lot of suppressed anger about feeling like the world didn’t want me. Political comedy seemed like the obvious route to go.
What drives you to do what you do?
I saw an interview with Kanye West about his Sunday Sessions project with a gospel choir. The interviewer said “when will you know that this project is complete?” and Kanye said “there will be world peace”. I love that, it’s a completely insane thing to say but it also sums up how all artists/performers should be motivated by completely unrealistic aspirations.
Describe your perfect Tuesday.
Sleep in, then do a nice gig.
Describe your worst experience on a coach.
I don’t get coaches much but a woman was once sick on me on a train, she covered her mouth as she walked past and that sort of pressurised the sick out of the side like when someone puts their thumb over a tap.
Best sofa you've ever slept on?
Probably my own, its really comfy and way too big for our tiny lounge.
Best piece of advice a comedian ever gave you?
In 2012 David Trent gave me a regime for not losing your voice whilst doing a run at the Fringe and it has served me well. It involves regular lemongrass tea with manuka honey, and gargling port before bed.
Worst piece of advice a critic ever gave you?
In 2011 I did a mixed bill with Suzi Ruffell, Fin Taylor, John Kearns and Max Dickens. We got a scathing 1 star review which basically said none of us would ever make it in comedy.
Tell us a joke.
I genuinely don’t know any.
What's the furthest you've travelled for the least amount of money/open spot?
When I was starting I got a Megabus to derby from Portsmouth for an open spot then got a lift back to Reading where I crashed on a friend's sofa and went back to Portsmouth the next day. For any new comedians starting out, I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
Who are you looking forward to seeing in Edinburgh this year?
If Edinburgh goes ahead next year then I’ll always make an effort to see John Kearns and Sarah Kendall. Also me and my friend Andrew White had the idea to do “The Fawlty Towers Dining Experience Dining Experience” and we found the premise so funny we might do that as a one off show.
On a scale of 1-10, how hungry are you right now?
Minus 10, I’ve just eaten a massive pizza and I actually feel quite sick.
How has lockdown been for you?
Kind of loved it, got to read more and didn’t have to talk to anyone.
Have you been more or less productive?
Well I haven’t done any gigs so in a way less productive but I have managed to get myself a big writing project so have been being productive with that. I’m not sure if I can talk about it yet but watch this space.
Anything else you'd like to say?
In the film Freddy Vs Jason there’s a scene where Jason finds some teenagers who have snuck off at a rave to smoke weed and one of them says “hey man, this is a rave, not a Halloween party” but the only reason you would associate hockey masks with Halloween is because of the Friday the 13th/Jason films which presumably in this universe don’t exist because otherwise in the other scenes they’d all be shouting “RUN! It’s Jason from Friday the 13th part 3!” (or possibly they would just say Friday the 13th because a lot of people don’t know that he didn’t wear the hockey mask until the third film), so really the stoned teenager should have said “hey man, this is a rave, not a sporting event!”. This scene ruins what is otherwise an excellent film.
To find out more about Joe Wells including upcoming shows:
Photo Credit : Edward Moore.