CB: How long have you been writing and performing comedy?
HB: Not very long. Actually I started writing a while ago, I wrote the first what-would-be Art History Song (of which I now have 23 which I can pick and choose from) in 2013 after seeing Adam Kay in Edinburgh. It was for an art exhibition/performance though… and then I wrote a couple more and sung them to my arty friends at parties. Calling myself a comedian and writing the bulk of my material has happened this year since January after I entered the Musical Comedy Awards and realised that people actually like this stuff.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
HB: Artsy fartsy.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
HB: As mentioned already, Adam Kay, and many other musical comedians (Bill Bailey, Issy Suttie, Flight of the Conchords etc). Also people from my childhood TV viewing, particularly Rowan Atkinson, I think he’s influenced me loads subconsciously. And cabaret is a huge influence, I love double acts Bourgeois and Maurice and Frisky and Mannish. Hopefully one day I’ll be half an act.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
HB: Nope. I wanted to be an artist! Hahahahaaa. Comedy is way better by the way.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
HB: I think of a funny rhyme (like Roxanne=Cezanne) and roll with it. Or someone else thinks of the punchline (like my friend Izzy who came up with Woah Giacometti – like Black Betty, get it?). Then I hit the old Wikipedia pretty hard for the verses, and improve the song gradually. I rewrote Bauhaus recently to ramp up the ‘Germans say the funniest things’ factor. As for the banter between songs, sometimes I write it in advance, but sometimes it’s on the spot with the audience.
CB: Do you write and perform comedy full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
HB: It’s a hobby for the moment – plus I’ve only just got offered a ‘main job’! I’m hoping it will influence my material as I’ll be at a major London museum and I imagine lots of mildly amusing things will happen. When I first started writing, my art history degree and lecturers greatly influenced me. I love taking the piss out of art-speak and the whole academic TED talk style. Hence why I introduce my songs as ‘satirical/pedagogical performance-essays’ and suchlike DELICIOUS BULLSHIT!
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
HB: The most enjoyable thing is meeting hilarious and talented people. I also love performing and there are always loads of opportunities to do so in London. The most frustrating thing is the apparent lack of audience for the majority of open mic type nights – sometimes you get lucky, though. The great thing about competition heats and one-off events is that loads of people come! I also find the number of acts billed for open-mics really puts people off. I sat through a 3 hour one recently. It was too much.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
HB: Cultured, clever, good singing voices, with educated hecklers who make intelligent interjections. So my favourite type doesn’t exist. Foreign audience members seem to really like my stuff, particularly Europeans. They know who Marcel Duchamp is, for a start. Some even admire him.
CB: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started performing comedy? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
HB: I’ve barely been heckled at all – I think musical comedy doesn’t invite it as much. I enjoy being heckled when it does happen! It shows they’re listening, in a way. I’ve never been hurled insults though, so I’d probably hate it if that happened.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
HB: The first time will be painful, but after that it’s great. Although I’ve seen seasoned comics shaking with nerves so maybe it will always be painful for some. Carry on if people laugh. Stop if they don’t. Please stop if they don’t.