CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
EM: Since Summer 2010 [Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP were number 1 with ‘We no speak Americano’].
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
EM: Friendly fire. I’m also part of a sketch group called Making Faces and we love to satirise the big solutions to life’s problems, while exploring interesting characters. This carries over into my stand-up, which I mix with games, characters, spoken word and music.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
EM: My favourite comedy writers are Armando Iannucci and Stewart Lee. Performers that I can’t get enough of are James Corden, Olivia Coleman and Robin Williams. On a personal level I find Rob Broderick of Abandoman one of the most warm and supportive guys. He’s kind and relaxed, and his attention to detail is really inspiring. Could say the same about a number of performers I’ve met too.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
EM: I love making people laugh, so it’s a natural direction. I’ve always loved creativity, having performed in bands and written lots of stories. Comedy combines a lot of those things. I write a lot and comedy provides the most immediate feedback. You know when you’ve written something good because everyone goes “Hahaha” and they mean it.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
EM: It depends on the material. Sometimes it’s an observation that you just come across – like the way you can tell my very British friend Abi grew up in America because she bounces her head side to side like one of the Brady bunch.
Other times I robustly research the background to an issue I see a lot in the news – for example, did you know that all the ministers behind HS2 have electric train sets in their attics and are using tax payers money in effect to fulfill boyhood fantasies? I know!
A lot of the time it’s just about words that sound funny next to each other – like spud hammer and welly tax.
CB: 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?
EM: It’s a part-time non-hobby. I take it too seriously and don’t enjoy it enough for it to be a hobby. My main job involves working to support young arts graduates, so I do see some cross-over in their work and mine. One artist I work with called Phil Elbourne employs a lot of bathos in his work and that’s something I see a lot in great comedians; Woody Allen is a particularly good manipulator of bathos. But he would be, with shirts like that.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
EM: I love being funny. I would love to be funnier. Simple as that
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
EM: If you’re offering, large theatres rigged with spotlights that can pick out celebrities seated about the venue.
CB: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
EM: The first ‘heckle’ experience I had was with Making Faces at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010, where 3 drunk Edinburghians sat on the front row. They shouted out regularly through the first five minutes, pitching in their thoughts, which would have been fine, but we had to keep asking them what they’d actually said, because of their thick Scotch accents.
I don’t get heckled much. Most people are very kind and are simply pitching in suggestions for how the show could be improved.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
EM: Love your audience. When you go on stage, think about how you can build them up and show them things about themselves that they would not have known otherwise.
Work towards perfection but don’t expect it.
Be the change you want to see.
Open up your heart.
More practically – the notepad ‘write it down immediately’ system is a must. I can’t tell you the number of times I thought of a great idea for a joke and didn’t write it down. (I can’t tell you, because I have no record of those times for some reason.)