Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Paul Dance: I started gigging in September 2010 when I did stand up as myself but started doing my character, Henry von Stifle, in about April last year.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Paul Dance: I always find it hard to describe my comedy because I’m not very bright but I would like to think that it’s quite surreal and silly although I try to play it as straight as possible. In my view, the thing with playing a character on stage is that no matter how stupid you sound, you have to believe that what you’re saying is normal.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Paul Dance: Way too many to really put down on here – I like the same as many a comedian does, Bill Hicks, Billy Connolly, Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson to name a few. But I’m also strongly influenced by stuff like Monty Python, Morecambe and Wise, Laurel and Hardy and Peter Cook – I would say that I’m more influenced by those than I am by the modern stand up comedians.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Paul Dance: A little part of me always wanted to do comedy but it took me an awfully long time to get motivated enough to do it – like many comedians I’m lazy and easily distracted.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Paul Dance: I think of what is correct or makes sense and do the complete opposite. My character is a historian so I’ll firstly pick a random topic, one that no respected historian would ever cover (‘The History of the Penguin’ ‘Wall’, ‘Coat Pocket’ ‘Sneeze’). After I’ve picked a topic I’ll make notes of the kind of stuff I want to cover before starting the actual writing. I then start to flesh out the material writing way too much stuff, a lot of which won’t be funny. Then I’ll edit what I have until I’m left with what seems about 30 seconds of material before starting the process again.
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?
Paul Dance: I wouldn’t call it a hobby as such but I do have another job so I guess I’d be classed as a part-timer, although it feels like I have two full-time jobs sometimes. My work is so dull that it has no influence on my material.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Paul Dance: The most enjoyable part of comedy is of course the sound of people laughing at something you’ve written. I also find the writing process extremely enjoyable, as I can basically sit in a room and write stuff that makes me laugh. Also, I’ve met some really nice people doing it who would remain my friends if I gave up doing comedy tomorrow. As for the stuff that I find most frustrating, I think it’s when an audience look at you with blank faces making you feel like you’re talking in an alien language. Also, I think a very small minority of people look down on character comedy as a sort of easy option. Maybe it is to some people but it doesn’t feel easy when writing it, dying on stage or getting changed in toilets that lack of a certain level of cleanliness.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Paul Dance: My favourite type of audience is one that is up for a laugh, plain and simple. Of course, it always helps if the room is packed!
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?
Paul Dance: I’ve yet to be heckled but I was on stage once when an argument between two couples sitting near the back erupted. It was so obvious and distracting to everyone that I had to stop what I was doing. Luckily I managed to get a laugh with something I said after one of the couples had stormed out. Sometimes things happening like that can lead you into finding new material.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Paul Dance: Don’t let a bad response put you off. Keep going and try to believe in yourself because some nights it will feel like no-one else does. Also, write your own stuff!
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