CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
JL: I done my first gig on the 25th October 2008 so I am coming up to 6 years but I never decided to make comedy my career until January 2010.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
JL: I base my comedy on my own real life experiences and philosophies so I would describe myself as a “comedy story-teller”. I wouldn’t describe myself as a “one-liner”, “gagster” or “topical” comedian. I deliver my material honestly and fearlessly but with a broad smile and an approaching and chatty manner. It seems to work for me and my persona.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
JL: I’ve always liked story-tellers. I enjoy it when a comedian shares a little about who they are and what’s going on in their heads and how they make what happens in their own lives funny. Growing up my favourites were: Richard Pryor, Dave Allen, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason, Tommy Teirnan, Billy Connelly. I like Jim Jeffries, Jo Brand, Brett Goldstein, Kerry Godliman, Celia Pacquola (this list could go on…). I meet so many comedians on the circuit who are extremely funny regardless of their style of comedy.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
JL: I’ve always enjoyed a good laugh but I never ever thought I would end up on stage with the ability to make people laugh. Before comedy I had never performed on stage in any given way and I had a very good job when I started to gig so I had to prioritise my family and work. It was when my family life and responsibilities changed drastically I had to think about another job, as I was in my 40’s I decided to try and make a living out of something that I loved and would love doing. So I suppose if my hand had not been forced, I may not have ever made the change – as my ma told us “Things happen for a reason”.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
JL: To be honest, I have most of my comedy on either verbal or visual recordings. It’s very hard for me to sit down and write my sets as my son who is autistic needs a lot of supervision and writing when he is at school can be difficult if I’m extremely tired. If I get a new idea, I will try it out when I’m on stage. I will either sandwich it between a given set or go to a 5/7min ‘new act’ night. As I compere shows regularly, I can often drop new material/idea in with the banter if I think it suitable, then I will make a quick note and just start to develop it into a current set or start a new set with it.
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?
JL: Yes, I perform full time. I use all my baby-sitting rights to gig. I used to manage the services in the borough of Brent for vulnerable adults but had to leave my post to care for my mum and son. Working in the day and gigging in the evenings then being up most of the night would have burnt me out at some point.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
JL: I absolutely love performing comedy. I get such a kick out of hearing an audience laugh, it actually feels therapeutic. I have met some brilliantly funny comedians who are also genuinely lovely people. I have also started to gather a fan base who follow my gig list and come to gigs and preview shows.
I have met people in the industry who make comedy far too political for my liking and even though I don’t get involved in the politics of it all, it can be very jarring. I leave my home and family to make people laugh not to get involved. If I don’t make it to where I want to in comedy (I will), I will not blame it on the facts that I am female, in my 40’s or ethnic. I would blame it on the fact I (and my writing) was not funny enough to make in in the industry I have chosen.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
JL: An audience that is comedy savvy and who have come to a show to laugh. That they understand different comedians have different styles of comedy, some will find them funny others not so much but they get to enjoy a different act who is on and enjoy the night.
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?
JL: To be honest, I’m not heckled a lot. As I like to banter, I tend to get people who banter back which I love as I’m quick witted so I’ve had some brilliant moments that have just happened. I can’t think of the funniest heckle but once when hosting, I was talking about wildlife programmes (I did have a punch-line for the end) and that I had never seen a wildlife programme presented by a black or ethnic person. I asked the audience if they knew of any ethnic wildlife presenters. For a few seconds there was nothing just audience shaking their heads. Then from the back there was just this voice that shouted out “March of the Penguins” with Morgan Freeman. Then someone shouted “That’s not a wildlife programme, it’s a documentary and Morgan Freeman is not in it he just narrates it”. The first chap who shouted out then said “But it’s got birds in it”. It just went back and forth like that for a couple of minutes, the room was in fits of laughter come the end of the exchanges.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
JL: The best advice I can give, have an idea of what you want to talk about in your 5 mins. Gig as much as possible to get a feel for your comedy voice and who you want to be seen as on stage. Keep to the same 5 mins until it’s at its sharpest then start adding on. Turn up to gigs on time and introduce themselves to the promoter, stay for the entire show if you can. Keep to time on stage, network loads and have great fun with the process.