Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
Charles Booth: I’ve been doing sketch comedy in various different guises for about 6 years now. Last year was the first time I went solo though.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Charles Booth: I try to keep it as varied as possible. I think that’s the greatest strength that sketch comedy has over any other form. If I had to break it down though, I’d say it’s a mixture of the North American philosophy of “Truth in Comedy”, which means grounded and human characters, but with the British flair for the fantastical and love of poetic language. Basically my best stuff is real people who talk a lot.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Charles Booth: Haha! That changes on a daily basis. Whenever I watch something I admire, even if it’s non-comedic, I look for ways to magpie something from it and question everything else I’ve done. At least sketch comedy makes a virtue out of my chronic indecision. At the moment though, I’m trying to put some of the brash confidence of American stand-ups like Eddie Murphy and Louis C.K. and the palpable integrity of Whoopi Goldberg’s solo work in the mix.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Charles Booth: I’ve got distinct memories from primary school of repeatedly listening to Jasper Carrot or The Goon Show on cassette – a strange brew for a child – and feeling I could do something similar. My mum always said I would end up creating something ‘zany’, so that’s the plan for the rest of my life.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Charles Booth: Usually it’s a three step process. 1) Spend months and months scrambling around for premises that really excite me or unexpectedly shunting two together to make something that feels distinct. 2) Spending a lot of time talking to myself in funny voices in front of the bathroom mirror. 3) Polishing the material that grabs me by writing copious lists of ideas which serve the premise, variations on possible jokes and turns in the scene. Whirling between all three seems to get the job done eventually.
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig as a comedy performer full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
Charles Booth: I’m not full time yet but it’s way more than a part-time hobby. To earn them dollar dollar bills I just started working as a primary school teacher. There’s a lot of oddballs in my class; I’m still looking for a way to exploit one of them for comedy.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
Charles Booth: Getting on stage is exhilarating. Travelling to and from gigs from Zone 6 and waiting around for hours is not.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Charles Booth: Probably an intimate space full of people who haven’t seen me yet. It’s great to surprise people.
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?
Charles Booth: Sketch comedians don’t usually get heckled, because it feels more theatrical. There’s more of a fourth wall than with stand ups. I did do a gong-show-style gig a couple of months back where the audience were encouraged to heckle. I got a couple of jibes back in the character of an eleven-year-old girl, which was fun for thirty seconds, but they were expecting standard stand-up material and I crashed out after 2½ minutes. Before that the I’d only been heckled once in Toronto, but it was a positive heckle. The drunk roommate of one of the cast members shouted out “Nice ass!” as I walked across the stage.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
Charles Booth: Study the classics for a long time, pay a lot of attention to structure, and learn to follow the rules before trying to break them. The same boring fact is true for all forms of writing.