Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Madeleine Culp: I’ve been doing solo stand-up comedy from January this year (2012). Before that I worked in a duo for 3 years. Doing solo stand-up is fun but took sometime to get used to. I’m still working it out. It’s like a roller coaster… one where you have the fear of popping your pants while you are on it… but it rarely happens. Rarely.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Madeleine Culp: I would describe it as surreal. Other people have described it as weird. Or maybe they were talking about me? I can’t tell. After seeing my set once, a comic told me that my style of comedy was ‘brave’. Yes brave – not a genre of comedy that I am aware of but hey, I’m not above taking that as a complement. I love doing physical comedy and will do it at any opportune moment. I also love fart jokes.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Madeleine Culp: I am influenced by good comedy, even if it is a style that I would never do. I adore comedians like Jennifer Saunders, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman, Conan O’Brien, Tig Notaro, Tim & Eric (of Awesome Show, Great Job) Shane Matheson, Ryan Withers and Nick Sun to name but a tiny few!
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Madeleine Culp: It was never my intention but for as long as I can remember I was always goofing off and performing as much as I could. My Smurf parody I used to do at lunchtime in Year 2 killed. No one could mock Poppa Smurf like me!
For most of my teens I tried to be an ‘actor’ and went to a performing arts high school on a scholarship (yep, it was pretty much Fame. So much prancing at lunchtimes). Yet every time I was given a drama script I couldn’t take it seriously, or myself seriously, and I would try to make people laugh instead of illicit tears or deep reflection as was normally the case. I had a teacher tell me that I should do stand-up comedy, but I dismissed it at the time. At university I started to do Theatresports every week, then I wrote a comedy show, then went to comedy festivals and then started to do stand-up. After getting a job as a presenter on radio, doing stand-up and festivals regularly, I was like, ‘Yeh… I want to get into comedy I think.’
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Madeleine Culp: Normally I see, hear or notice something in everyday life. Then I will write down what’s interesting or ridiculous about it and workshop something from there. I say ‘workshop’ which just means me scribbling down points about it and thinking of how I could talk about it. I find my jokes are never really formed until I do them on stage and throw them to the mercy of the crowd.
Comedy Blogedy: 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?
Madeleine Culp: I most definately need to be working day jobs and gigging at night here in London. At home, in Sydney, I was a host on radio station Triple J which was paid so I could focus on comedy a lot more. Jobs are a wealth of material though I don’t seem to write occupation driven. jokes. I do write about things that I see or happen while at work.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Madeleine Culp: The most enjoyable thing is the freedom to experiment and try things out. It can also be the most frustrating because sometimes the crowds are small, you just can’t tell if your jokes are any good with the two sober crowd members who were coerced into becoming an audience being your only sounding board. Worse still is when the audience is just other comics.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Madeleine Culp: And an audience made of humans preferably the adult kind, happy, intelligent, up for anything and slightly tipsy.
Comedy Blogedy: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
Madeleine Culp: I have been heckled but I don’t seem to get it frequently. I like interacting with the audience – it’s one of the best parts of doing stand-up. One time a man in the crowd, who could have been a little intoxicated, just shouted out ‘turn around’. He didn’t yell it out in response to anything I had been saying. It didn’t seem sleezy or that he wanted me off, I think he just wanted a bit of a show biz spin I guess. Sure, why not?
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
I’ll give them the same advice I got when I asked Arj Barker after I saw one of his shows. Sure he seemed a little distracted by some very interested-in-him ladies, and yes he was making eye contact with them when he said this but still it is something I keep saying to myself time and time again as a motivator (I just say it without the eye contact to ladies but you choose for yourself). Get ready! Get your pens out because you’ll need to write this wisdom down. Here it comes: ‘Just do it’.
For more interviews with new acts, visit comedyblogedy.com/newacts