Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Michael Sterrett: I’ve been going since October 2011 so I’m fast approaching a year in stand up.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Michael Sterrett: Well, I tend to get tagged with ‘dark’. I was under the misapprehension that everyone had dreadful unhealthy thoughts so dark isn’t really how I would describe myself. I would say what I’m trying to do is raw confessional stand up.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Michael Sterrett: I lean towards American comedy, people like Marc Maron and Dave Attell. I’m kind of fascinated by damaged guys who own their own neuroses and anxiety but are still tough and cut through the bullshit. I’d say though that I’m equally influenced by writers like Charles Bukowski and John Fante, I think they were coming from a similar place but just worked in a different medium. And I absolutely love a guy called Tom Scharpling who has a radio programme called The Best Show on WFMU in New Jersey, I think he’s probably the funniest most original voice working in comedy at the moment.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Michael Sterrett: I think so, but I’m such a coward that the fear of trying it and failing put the kibosh on any remote dreams I might have had. Luckily, or unluckily, I reached a point in my life where I really had nothing to lose. The toxic combination of intense self-loathing and narciccism that fuels most comics reached fever pitch and the idea that a bunch of people in a comedy club might hate me seemed relatively inconsequential in relation to the horror show that is my personal life.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Michael Sterrett: I don’t really writes gags as such, it’s more my skewed take on things. I talk a lot about relationships and issues I have with certain things so I’m essentially just dipping into the well of my experience and pushing myself to see how far I’m willing to go. I don’t write anything down, it’s more like I’m trying to make a psychoanalyst laugh at my pain.
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?
Michael Sterrett: I’m still at the early stages but I’d say it’s a full time preoccupation. I think it’s a bit like doing crack or something, it might begin as a hobby but give it a couple of weeks and you will have sold all your belongings and your kids will be in care. I’ve worked all manner of menial jobs but the only real influence they have is that they give you some money to keep being able to travel to gigs and they force you to interact with other people outside of doing comedy.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Michael Sterrett: The best audience is a group of complete strangers, late at night in a tiny dark room.
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?
Michael Sterrett: I’ve had my fair share. There tend to be two types of hecklers; ones who think they’re helping and joining in with the conversation, and ones who just want the attention and resent the fact that they aren’t the main focus in the room. I hate both equally. The best heckle I’ve had was more a critique after a gig. A guy came up to me and said “You’re really not funny, you’re like a cross between Frankie Boyle and Russ Abbott”. He then proceeded to tell me that I should do more jokes making fun of people in wheelchairs. One of the dumbest people I’ve ever met.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Michael Sterrett: Don’t be scared, don’t be worried about failing. Don’t listen to any advice from your friends, family or co-workers – 99.9% of them don’t have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to comedy. Find other comics that are on your wavelength and start booking your own gigs and creating your own scene. Be in it for the long haul. Developing a drinking problem will also help.