Comedy Blogedy: When did you start stand-up?
Ed Surname: 15552000 seconds ago. But I’ve been performing in comedy for over a decade. Being experienced in a lot of the factors that go into stand-up, such as showmanship, working an audience and injecting my personality into my presentation has helped.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Ed Surname: The phrase ‘this would only happen to me’, is particularly suited to me, so I tell stories I’ve experienced. I was trying to convince a room of comedians that this was true when a man walked up to me and accused me of killing his brother. I experience madness on a daily basis- seeing three mattresses stuffed into a phone box, or a man standing in the middle of the road eating chips whilst wearing only brogue shoes. I want to share these happenings with the world which I do daily on my blog too. I am a comedian with a twist, as I have a lot of footage of the incidents I talk about.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Ed Surname: My main comedy project is something that has never been done before, so there have been no direct influences! I’ve created a 500 hour home video scrapbook of my life… I proposed to my wife before we met/ became homeless/ slept in a bed shop/ fell off a 30ft bridge/ arranged meetings for 30 years in the future/ was arrested over a pizza/ signed with New York TV on a day when my bank balance was zero/ and was attacked by a Mexican gun maniac in one of my nine near death experiences.
When my videos got media attention I kept the camera rolling on everything– my first TV appearance, first Hollywood payment, first time being recognized, my feelings and family reactions on ALL the ups and downs. I even filmed the local shop assistant’s reaction while I was buying a magazine I was in. They saw me as a kid, now I was on their shelves. I discovered interesting subtexts to the footage; in filming everything, I accidentally created the world’s first case study of one’s journey into showbusiness, exploring the personality behind the performer.
I got a national headline that bagged lucrative gigs- but upset my family. My project demystifies the supposed glamour of showbusiness and asks the questions ‘is following your dreams all it seems?’ and ‘why do people want to perform?’ I’m the first of the generation with technology that could do it. It’s the most frustrating project ever… even the Samaritans slammed the phone down on me (seriously!)
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Ed Surname: I did a ‘show’ to my cuddly toys when I was about 4. I’d like to think my jokes are now slightly less childish, and my audience slightly more receptive, though one out of two isn’t bad.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Ed Surname: I always carry one of my eleven notebooks to write down the mad things that happen to me. Sharing things that I’ve actually experienced weaves my personality into my act and the crowd is more invested. If my whole act was oneliners, they’d learn less about me.
I feel my strength is making my material flow together instead of noticeably changing the subject. I do change the subject, but always try to link it. I’ll fit some oneliners into the narrative of the story without ruining the flow. I also try to think of how to link one gig to another, so I’ll have a full length show which runs together.
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
My jobs are a cocktail of comedy related things. I do an FM radio show in Hammersmith called The Standup Sitdown where I conduct sit-down interviews with stand-ups. In my own project I analyse my own personality; the radio show is an extension of that, with me exploring the minds of other comedians. Mp3s are at EdSurname.com. I even started a live comedy club with a twist, interviewing stand-ups after their act.
I license out content non-exclusively to USA TV, and editing takes the rest of my time. I taught myself how to edit and when I was 17, managing to convince a TV producer that I was a pro! These jobs do influence my material because the intention of my gigs are to showcase my life.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Ed Surname: Having a live platform as opposed to before where my main outlet was editing until 5am. The live aspect always brings butterflies, but doesn’t get in the way of performing. Oddly, bigger crowds are less nerve-wracking as they are faceless. One show’s crowd was so small that the entire comedy evening was drowned out by a conversation in the corner of the pub between two elderly gentlemen- who then came over and actually had to ask ‘is this comedy?’
I enjoy refining material, which was initially alien to me because I’m so used to improvising on video (if I filmed something, I would cross that idea off my list whether it worked or not). Plus, ideas that didn’t work in filming can often be a good fit for stand-up, meaning my old ideas get a new lease of life.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Ed Surname: When small audiences aren’t laughing at questionable jokes because they don’t want to be seen as the first to laugh, but then compliment comedians on those jokes when nobody else is around. But I am not an advocate of being shocking for the sake of it. One trick I have is that if I sense the crowd will think a questionable joke is a reflection of my real opinion, then I will tell the joke but be quoting someone else, as if someone told me that joke in an inappropriate setting such as a crowded restaurant or family gathering. Suddenly it becomes acceptable material because I’m just the messenger, and they are also laughing that it was said at an awkward time. It is equally fascinating and annoying to me that this technique seems to work.
Also frustrating is that sometimes, just because something crazy happened to me, it doesn’t necessarily translate to stand-up. For instance, I was once pretending to live in London to secure a showbusiness meeting, but I secretly lived miles away. On the 4 hour coach trip in, we stopped at the town nearest to me and the coach picked up the person I was set to meet, who had done exactly the same thing. We could have just met outside of London and saved lots of time and money. These things are madness, but would surely be met with silence from a crowd expecting a punchline. Sometimes the crowd has thought that I have made one of my real stories up, but the fact it really happened is what’s funny. Trying to reiterate that it did indeed happen is futile while in the act of stand-up itself.
Sometimes I get wrapped up in trying to create something really complex at the expense of it actually being funny. For instance, I started developing a stage show with my real life stalker. It was so hard to get the stalker on board in the right way. I had to call it off, as all the hard work just to get to the point of being on stage wouldn’t really matter to the crowd- they’d just judge if the performance itself was funny or not, and probably not believe the insanity that they were watching a stage show featuring my real stalker.
Blog, videos, radio & more! edsurname.com
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