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Paul James

What comedy most inspires you?

Any good comedy. I've been lucky to work alongside some of the world's best comics, and when you see someone on the top of their game it acts as a muse, and then you go home or to the hotel and write THAT night! It's uncanny. It can even be a completely different genre, a storyteller, a musical comic or an absurdist. Then I get home and write a dozen one-liners.

Which comedian most inspires you?

In terms of having the effect I mentioned above, I can say hand on heart that the following have induced such a state in me as well as making me ache with laughter ... Phil Nichol, Gary Delaney, Ian Cognito, Stewart Francis, Adam Bloom, Anna Keirle, Will Franken, Tony Law, Rufus Hound, Matt Price, Steve Gribbin, Raymond and Mr Timpkins, Wes Packer, Noel James. There are doubtless many more.

Which comedian scares the shit out of you because you know you'll never be that good?

My wife and I are huge Billy Connolly fans. We missed out on seeing him live for many years, either not being fast enough with tickets or too skint to go at the time. We eventually saw him in 2016, and it was an absolute masterclass. He was already in bad shape physically so he stood in front of a table with a bottle of water, explaining that he can't move around as much as he used to. I have seen many a great show of 1hr plus thinking it would have been better a little shorter. He wrapped up after 2hr 15mins, and he hadn't moved or taken so much as a sip of his water. He had a packed Motorpoint Arena in the palm of his hand the whole time. Epic.

Why and how did you get into comedy?

I wasn't one who thought I was funnier than any of the comics I saw on TV or that I could do better. I just thought I'd have fun doing it and I have, every minute. I never imagined I would be doing it for a living one day. I was 31 when I did my first gig. I'd always enjoyed watching stand up but doing it never occurred to me until it did and then I did it. It still amazes me when new acts tell me they waited for years to do it.

What drives you to do what you do?

A pathological desire not to waste time. I'm not a spiritual person, so I value time enormously. It's the most precious commodity any of us have, and so we should use it constructively. Even in a hedonistic way is fine, just not wasted.

Describe your perfect Tuesday.

Tuesday is a comic's Sunday. We work weekends so when civilians are moaning about Mondays we are sleeping off the weekend and generally slacking off. I feel rested by Tuesday and usually in a better frame of mind to get shit done.

Describe your worst experience on a coach.

I'm too old for that shit; I get the train. My worst experience would have been in my previous life as a rugby player. We were occasionally thrown off the bus naked with a mile to go to the clubhouse! I was fitter then, and there were no phone cameras!

Best sofa you've ever slept on?

Ignacio Lopez's airbed was an experience. Probably more so for Simon Emanuel who is around half my weight and spent the night elevated about 2 foot above me!

Best piece of advice a comedian ever gave you?

Be funny. It sounds flippant but is ultimately the best advice a comic can receive.

Worst piece of advice a critic ever gave you?

I've been lucky to be on the right side of them. It's a thankless task. I'm not sure you can critique stand up in the way you can a movie or other art forms. Once you sit down with any other intention than to enjoy comedy, then you take yourself out of the moment and are least best placed to comment on it.

Tell us a joke.

Every comic hates this question!

What's the furthest you've travelled for the least amount of money/open spot?

My first year in Edinburgh was doing a load of open spots. Probably still the best way to do Edinburgh. Even performing for nothing Id have made more than the hundreds of pro acts losing money to perform hour-long shows for a month. It's a racket. Hopefully, post-Covid things will change, and acts will wise up to it.

On a scale of 1-10 , how hungry are you right now?

1 for food, 10 for life.

How and why did you go into politics?

Every piece of shit internet troll that wasted hours of my life inspired me to get into politics. Now, as they put the world to rights and spout their bigoted nonsense from behind a keyboard, I can get on with affecting the real world and benefiting my own community. You don't have to become a Town Councillor to do that; you can ignore time thieves online, and spend time with your children, call a friend, look in on a neighbour. Almost anything is time better spent and more rewarding.

How has lockdown been for you?

I have performed solidly since I started stand up in 2009 so I didn't mind the break at first. I have started to really miss stand up now though and can't wait to get back to it. Also, I have two children and we foster a child with Special Needs so I want to get back to my double life!

Have you been more or less productive?

Well, I've started a Masters in Creative Writing. It's online but full time, so that has got the creative juices flowing a little. The garden and house are looking a lot better too.

Anything else you'd like to say?

Just be kind.

Paul founded the Neath Comedy Festival, find out more here

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