CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
SM: I’ve been gigging since August 2010. So just over 3 years.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
SM: I always find that a difficult question to answer. I suppose there’s a mixture of observations, misdirection. nothing that hasn’t been done before and better. I just try to add my slant on things.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
SM: Before I started stand up I would have said Jimmy Carr, Eddie Izzard those kind of big stars, who I still enjoy. But now it’s more my peers. Most of the stand up on TV bores me. Once you know some basic rules you can see the punchlines coming a mile away. That’s not to say all successful acts are hack. It’s just that the majority of audiences only understand that recipe. Does that make me sound pretentious? Probably.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
SM: No. I was a hardcore chef until 2009. Then I started going to comedy clubs on my own and began thinking about giving it a go. I’ve always made up jokes for my work colleagues so I suppose it’s always been there subconsciously.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
SM: I don”t write material in the sense that I sit down with paper and pen, I kind of just wait for things to come to me then thrash it out on stage. It’s probably the reason I’ve only accumulated 20 minutes in 3 years.
CB: 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?
SM: I’ve rarely been paid for stand up so still have a “real job”, but it’s not a hobby, I do want to be a pro one day. As far as my job influences me… I wouldn’t say it has directly. I have a bit about a guy I worked with which I’ve slowly added to. And humour in kitchens tends to be on the dark side which my jokes can sometimes be.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the open mic comedy circuit?
SM: I enjoy walking into a room and knowing some of the people and seeing new people for the first time. It’s an ever changing landscape of faces and generally a supportive atmosphere. The thing I don’t enjoy is nights with 500 acts who are allowed to run over their time. It’s not good for the acts themselves and certainly not good for the audience.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
SM: I prefer audiences that are open minded, happy to get on board and go with it. So many people end up watching comedy because of friends, the MC dragged them in or they just happened to be there. Some of the best gigs I’ve had have been in front of a handful of people. You have to address the situation maybe change what you had planned. It can get very personal but you make a connection and it’s a one off show. I remember those nights better than a night that was easy.
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?
SM: I’ve only really had a few negative heckles since I started. For the most it’s just been people who want to join in which I generally welcome because its an interaction and again makes it a one off performance. The best heckle I’ve probably had was when the police came in half way through my set and then the staff just started closing the room whilst I was still going. I could’t really think of a comeback to that.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
SM: Don’t I have enough competition?! But if you really must then I would say set yourself a time frame. 6 months, 1/2 years whatever and just gig gig gig. There are so many variables to comedy (material, timing, stage craft, writing etc) that it’s impossible to think about them all at once. Eventually they’ll fall into place. And if they don’t, then keep going anyway, it’s what makes us arseholes at the back laugh.