Updated: Dec 19, 2020
What comedy most inspires you?
Two kinds really. Properly cutting, savvy, cleverly written stuff with an edge that also is personal to the act. So that you know these are their thoughts, their interpretations and they aren’t just saying them for the sake of a joke. But the other kind of comedy I love is completely bonkers silly comedy. Really imaginative, irreverent jokes that just catches you off guard and makes you snort laugh. Those are my faves.
Which comedian most inspires you?
This changes all the time for me. At the moment, US comedian Eric Andre inspires me the most. I think the Eric Andre Show is one of the most inventive and original comedy programs out there and of the kind that nothing else can mimic or touch. It’s one of the few shows that has me in absolute stitches from start to its very short 11-minute finish. I had really gone off the idea of prank TV but the stunts he does are exceptional.
Which comedian scares the shit out of you because you know you'll never be that good?
There’s so, so many and again this changes depending on who I’ve been watching. Off the top of my head right now is US comic John Mulaney who is effortlessly funny and his gags are so perfectly written, with a mix of very silly and beautifully satirical. He feels a league above the rest. I’m aware I’ve only put US comedians and male comedians so far, but this is only because my memory has been ruined by the past year making every day seem the same, and Eric Andre and John Mulaney are two I’ve been watching recently. I’m fairly sure I’d give you different answers next week!
Why and how did you get into comedy?
I cheated and did a stand-up comedy course as part of my Drama degree at Kent University. I really, really wanted to go into acting because I’m one of those dicks who never wants to earn a living. Then I did this stand-up course taught by Dr Oliver Double and immediately knew that was the actual way I needed to not earn a living. I did it for my whole 4th year (there were 4 years to my degree but no one, including the student loans company, knows why) and then after leaving immediately started on the circuit while working several day jobs at the same time.
What drives you to do what you do?
A car. Arf. No actually that’s a hard question as I can’t really explain it, it’s just a need. I get frustrated and easily bored doing things I’m not that interested in. It’s been a problem I’ve had since I was a kid and I put it largely down to stubbornness. I’d have had a much easier and financially stable life if I’d just done a proper job but I would have lost my mind. I need to have different gigs and see different places and imagine different things and write every day otherwise I think I’d have to use that energy someplace else and would likely end up shouting at people in the park.
Describe your perfect Tuesday.
Annoyingly Tuesday is one of the two days of the week my daughter doesn’t go to nursery, so it’s pretty much solid dad duty. Which I do love, but an ideal one would be where somehow I get to sleep in and sit still, which is never likely to happen. So instead I’d opt for one where I just to play silly games with her, and she actually eats all her food and doesn’t have even one tantrum. That’d be pretty amazing right now. Damn my bar is low huh?
Describe your worst experience on a coach.
Megabus Gold on the way back from the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014. My wife was travelling with me but it was a sleeper coach back to London, so we had to lie in weirdly separated booths. There was no way to sit up, so you had to lie the whole way which made me feel a bit sick, and there was a man in the hammock above me who kept dropping crumbs of chocolate muffin on my head for the whole journey. It also meant I couldn’t really talk to my wife as the hammock man would be involved in every conversation. Eight hours of that, not being able to sit up, crumbs on my head, no chatting and I couldn’t sleep. Afterwards I caught I really grim cold too that I’m sure muffin man will have passed on.
Best sofa you've ever slept on?
This isn’t an especially good one as I’ve slept on many, many better sofas, but at the Edinburgh Fringe 2005 my plan was to stay in a youth hostel for a few nights, then stay at my friend’s flat as I was only up for a week. One night I was horrifically wasted and got to bed about 5am. At 7am in the youth hostel, I was woken up by banging on the door and people shouting at me that I had to check out as it was my last day. I was still drunk and fairly discombobulated, so I very quickly grabbed all my stuff and left. But it was 7am so nowhere was open, it was cold because, well Edinburgh, and my friend wasn’t answering his phone as he was obviously still asleep as he hadn’t been thrown out of a hostel at 7am. I waited outside a pub for two hours till it opened at 9am, hid in a corner and drank coffee, shivering for 3 hours wishing for warmth and sleep. My friend finally called me back at lunchtime and I fell asleep on his shitty mid-way through the fringe and covered in flyers sofa for the whole afternoon. It was pretty much lifesaving.
Best piece of advice a comedian ever gave you?
Warning, this sounds callous if you view it through the modern day prism of a greater understanding of depression and mental health issues but this was in around 2006 when no one had a clue. I did a short spot at the Comedy Store and died on my arse. I got pretty much solid silence for the whole 10 mins, the manager didn’t even come back to tell me what I did wrong, it was brutal. I walked off stage and properly sulked, wondering if I should give up stand-up. Veteran Store comic and lovely man John Fothergill just turned to me and said ‘what you gonna do? Kill yourself?’ I replied ‘no’ as though that was a ridiculous thing to say and he just said ‘exactly, it was only ten mins of your life. That’s it.’ I think it was the first time I’d ever put it into context that gigs, when bad, are only ever a few mins, no one except you will remember it within a few days and its not worth tearing yourself apart about it. Similarly I remember excellent comedian Al Pitcher telling me very early on that comedy isn’t a competition and you just do what you want to do with it, which really helped me enjoy doing the stand-up you like and not panic that you have to be better than other acts.
Worst piece of advice a critic ever gave you?
I remember one said I should be more edgy and less friendly, which is basically saying ‘be a different person entirely.’ I’m not sure why they didn’t just go see an act they liked instead.
Tell us a joke.
I’ve got a live gig booked in for December and I’m assuming it will go ahead.
What's the furthest you've travelled for the least amount of money/open spot?
London to Exeter for nothing but experience, in the car with two comedians who argued with each other the whole way and back. Good times.
Best chicken you've ever tasted?
I’m a vegetarian so, er…probably the seitan chicken Buffalo burger at Rudy’s Vegan Diner. That stuff is bonkers good.
On a scale of 1-10 how hungry are you right now?
Always 10. Always, unless I’ve just eaten a massive meal. Then maybe a 9.
How has lockdown been for you?
Long and more boring than I assumed a global pandemic would be. I was fully ready for infected monkeys and heads exploding all over people in hazmet suits. Instead it’s been a lot of wondering what day it is because everything is exactly the same again, feeling knackered and wishing for childcare for at least 5 mins. I definitely would’ve preferred infected monkeys, or zombies or something.
Have you been more or less productive?
A mix. For the first three months of the first lockdown I was very sedentary, couldn’t write anything and mostly ate crisps and drank a lot. Then from about May, I forced myself to start the Couch to 5k app, stop drinking and eat less, and with that and sunshine I started writing loads of stuff, and finally got a script finished I’d been meaning to for years. But I still ate lots of crisps. More recently, my writing brain is just feeling knackered, but I’m still running and eating less, apart from crisps. I just think I need a brain holiday. And a real holiday. And more crisps.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Kindness is radical. I never any idea what on earth I’m doing. Farts will always be very funny.
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photo credit Ed Moore