Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Si Finnigan: I’ve been doing stand up a little over a year now. My first gig was an Open Mic in Huddersfield, my friend drove me all the way to the venue and I remember being so nervous. I walked to the guy behind the bar and asked when the comedy will start; he told me it wasn’t till the next night. I had to go through the whole thing all over again 24 hours later and proceeded to bomb in front of 4 acts, 2 punters and the bartender I spoke with the night before. It was the 20th April, 2011.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Si Finnigan: I can get pretty hostile, especially towards audiences. It kind of depends what type of mood I’m in going into a gig, or what kind of crowd it turns out I’m playing to, or how well the night is run. I like the idea that sometimes, especially on Open Mic nights, there can be a bit of give and take between the performer and the audience when it comes to who’s responsible for the gig being a success or a nose-dive.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Si Finnigan: Bill Hicks got me into stand up big time but he’s like the gateway drug for comic nerds. I loved watching early Eddie Izzard stand up videos, things like Glorious and Dress to Kill. My ultimate influence is the Big Yin, Billy Connolly. I remember listening to his ‘the crucifixion’ joke when I was really young, like 9 years old. It’s resonated with me ever since.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Si Finnigan: Yeah, but for some reason it never occurred to me that stand up was something you could actually do. I did comedy acting for years before stand up so I was getting laughs reading other peoples lines. I quit acting when I got into university and started doing a screenwriting course; all of a sudden I had actors getting laughs from reading my lines. I started building confidence in my own material and climbed back on stage on my own.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Si Finnigan: If I think of something funny I wouldn’t write it down straight away, I’d just carry on with whatever it was I was doing at the time. If the idea comes back into my head a week later then I start finding out the structure of the joke. It’s like when a guitarist comes up with a riff; if it’s good enough he won’t forget it, he’ll just start writing the song.
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig as a stand-up full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
Si Finnigan: I work full time, the comedy is part time but it’s definitely not a hobby. Hobbies are generally quite enjoyable. Driving miles out into the middle of god-knows-where to find out you’re going to be slotted in-between the raffle and the magician isn’t the most enjoyable experience in the world. But comedy is the reason why I’m working in a job I hate, so I can keep those experiences coming. I don’t want to work in a paint factory all my life, all I need to do is figure out how to be funny enough not to worry about rent before I go bald.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Si Finnigan: The most frustrating thing about the amateur comedy circuit is seeing the tourists jump onstage whilst wearing their skinny jeans, posturing onstage then start reading Sickipedia-style jokes from a piece of paper. You can tell by their hair that they’re not in it for the right reasons. They don’t tend to stick around though.
The most enjoyable thing is seeing how much raw talent is lying around. I run comedy nights in Leeds with two other comics, it’s amazing to see all these young, talented and seriously funny people slowly work their way up into the clubs. People who are way funnier than me so it’s hard to try and hide the resentment a little but to watch a fellow comic develop his act into a killer set is pretty cool.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Si Finnigan: Comedy club audiences are always fun, it makes you raise your game.
Comedy Blogedy: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
Si Finnigan: The best heckle I got was when my dad came to this gig I was doing on my birthday. Halfway through my set I pointed at him and said to the audience, “this is my Dad”, my dad shouted back “not anymore after watching this shit!” He got the biggest laugh of the night.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Si Finnigan: Whoever your favourite comic is, analyse them! Go through all their material and look at the jokes; what types of jokes do they like to tell, how they structure it, their cadence, rhythm, nuances, style, etc. You’ll figure out what tools you need to build your act, you’ll start developing your own style and will eventually drop your influences.
Also, the best writing is rewriting.
Also, don’t listen to advice from new acts.
For more interviews with new acts, visit comedyblogedy.com/newacts
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