CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
JH: I did my first gig in 2012 but I’ve only been gigging solidly for just over a year.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
JH: I’ve always wanted it to be observational but its mainly anecdotes. Observational comedy has strangely become associated with mediocre, TV friendly comedy, if you say observational comedy people now think of airplane food jokes, but for me its still the most difficult thing to write and the most impressive to witness when executed well.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
JH: Paul Sinha is someone I really admire, his use of storytelling is something I’ve definitely learnt from. I used to do bar work for Jongleurs and Paul would storm those rooms without having to resort to smut or misogyny like a lot of the acts that performed there, ever since then I’ve idolized him a bit.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
JH: Since I was about 13 I think. I went on a camping trip with my best friend Charlie, his girlfriend Beth, and her lovely Christian parents. I was getting a bit bored and Beth lent me her iPod, which had an audio rip of Ricky Gervais’ Politics show. It was my first proper exposure to stand up and I was fascinated by it. I learnt it word for word, and was then a bit shocked when my friends didn’t laugh when I recited it back to them. I’d unplug people’s ipods when they were playing heavy metal music and try to get them to listen to a routine about humpty dumpty. I must have been unbearable.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
JH: Usually it will start with a note on my phone, then I’ll expand and mess around with it with a pen and paper to find the structure and the framework of the joke, then type it up to try to find language that suits it best, then strip it back down to a few key elements to play with at a new material night. I’d like a writing partner but no one fancies me.
CB: 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?
JH: I’d describe it more as a badly paid second job than a hobby. I have a management job for a chain of barber shops. It hasn’t had an effect on my material whatsoever so far. The end goal for myself, and I’d assume every comedian, is to be in a situation where I focus all of my time and energy on comedy, but I’m also wary of the impact of relying on comedy financially. Probably not something I’ll need to worry about for a long time but I sometimes wonder if I’d focus too much on making my stuff accessible and ‘sellable’ if it paid all of my bills.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
JH: Everyone complains about the travel but I don’t mind that too much. I’ve discovered a lot of comedians that I might not have done if I hadn’t gigged with them. I’ve done a lot of open spots at nights where I’d have paid to see the headliner anyway so that’s nice.
CB: What’s your favorite type of audience to perform to?
JH: I’ll take any audience that isn’t just other comedians. Students are great because I suppose they’re my age so they relate easily but I gigged in Kent recently to a barn full of people my parents’ age and they were happy to laugh at jokes about ketamine and pornography. One of my favorite gigs was to a crowd largely made up of drug dealers and their children in Romford. Anyone who pays to sit and listen to other people speak obviously has a level of openness and humility, so they’re all nice really.
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?
JH: I like heckles usually. At that social club in Romford a guy spotted that I had notes written on my hand and shouted ‘It’d be a short set if you’d written those on your cock’. I thought that was really funny.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
JH: One thing that really gets to me is when this question is asked and people respond by saying ‘there are too many comedians, we don’t need new acts’ or when new acts ask the various comedy forums for advice on how to start and they’re routinely met with condescension and rudeness. Fuck that. If you’re really that intimidated by new comedians that you discourage them from even starting then you should question your own motives and ability. Yes, there is an over saturation of comics at the moment but discouraging potential new talent isn’t the answer to that problem.
Enjoy it because there’s no other reason to do it, question all the advice you’re given (including this), ask questions rather than trying to give answers and don’t punch down.