CB: How long have you been writing and performing comedy?
PW: It’s been about 10 years now.
CB: Where did you first perform stand up comedy? How was it?
PW: It was in a city called Calgary in Canada. I was out there for an engineering internship, which I absolutely hated. I didn’t know anyone in town so I figured if it went awful no one would ever know I tried it. It went awful, but I kept going anyway.
CB: How often did you perform stand up comedy after this show?
PW: After my internship, I moved back to my hometown which only had one show a week, an open mic. So I would do it once a week at best for the first year or two. Then a club opened and it bumped up to probably twice a week. That’s not nearly enough, so I had to spend a lot of time annoying my friends and family.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
PW: A lot of local people that no one has ever heard of. When I started the scene was so new that no one really understand how to do stand up. So there was no one to look up to. We sort of figured it out on our own.
CB: What is your process when you write your material?
PW: Usually something will either annoy me or strike me as funny, and then I’ll talk about it out loud to myself for a couple of weeks like a crazy person. Then after I think I have it worked out, I write it down for posterity. If I forget about it before I write it down I assume it wasn’t good enough to stick around. It’s a nice method as long as you don’t mind spending 90% of the time looking insane.
CB: How do you feel that your material has changed since when you first started out in comedy?
PW: When I first started I would do very concise jokes. A single funny thought. Now I’m able to get across more complex ideas, and actually talk about a subject for a bit of time. It’s much more rewarding. Plus I don’t have to think of as many premises.
CB: How have you found different places around Canada and other countries around the world compare in terms of their reaction to your comedy?
PW: I try to write as reference-free and universal comedy as I can, tackling bigger, relatable topics. Between that and the fact that I try to play as many different countries as possible I feel like I’m pretty well rounded, so I’ve been lucky that most places I’ve gone to has reacted well. Except Germany, they didn’t love me. They did love the guy before me though, and he was dressed as a giraffe and tap dancing, so I try not to beat myself up over it.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
PW: Anyone who is out specifically to see comedy. I know that sounds obvious, but we play so many shows (corporate, fundraisers, bars) where comedy isn’t the main reason people are out. Those are death. It’s like magic, you have to believe.
CB: What is your favourite comedy venue?
PW: London Comedy Store, Toronto Yuk Yuks, Birmingham Glee.
CB: What is your advice for comedians and new acts who have recently started out in comedy?
PW: Treat it like a job. Work for the amount of time you’d work at a real job. Being a hard worker is probably more important than being funny. Unless you’re not funny at all. Then hard work ain’t going to be help anything.
Peter White will perform his new show Straight White Male at the Edinburgh Festival. Tickets