CB: How long have you been gigging in comedy?
SL: My first ever gig was way back when in June 2010, the same night the World Cup semi-final between Spain and Germany. I remember this because the whole crowd was Spaniards who wanted to celebrate their victory rather than watch comedy. You can imagine it was not a great gig. However I have never gigged regularly, which is what you need to be a good comedian. I have been at University in Dundee for the past few years and whilst there is no comedy scene here I have run my own student comedy night for the last year.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
SL: It’s much more chatty and personable than when I started. I began doing an odd mix one liners and a bit of whimsy. Running my own room has taught me a lot about riffing and compering since the gig had a recurring crowd and I couldn’t do the same material to them. I really enjoy it because I don’t feel like the funniest person in the room and compering works best if you find someone fascinating then build comedy around them. The comedy I’m writing for the fringe is – at least I plan it to be – going to be more political. If you want a real idea you’ll have to come see it.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
SL: Along with the grand masters of comedy that most comedians admire (Kitson, Lee and CK to name a few). Here are the three I believe have influence me most.
Pete Holmes – Probably out of any singular comedian this is who my attempts at a comedy persona emulate the most. He has a distinct persona and gives a breath of fresh air to comedy and tried to do the same with the chat show format (shame it was cancelled a few days ago). Hopefully it means he will come over and do gigs in the UK.
Doug Stanhope – I love a comedian with a distinct point of view and who argues in favour of the indefensible. His act mixes absolute smut, pitch black humour and social commentary incredibly well.
Terry Alderton – I have flyered for CKP for the past four Fringes and three of those have included promoting Terry’s show. Whilst his act is different from anything I want to do I love the madness and originality of it. Generally the audience really go with him though I have seen him struggle to get the audience on side with the same material.
Others include: Susan Calman, Mark Thomas, Glen Wool, Laurence Clark and Richard Herring.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
SL: I grew up on a farm yard near a small town in Scotland. Being a comedian was something that never really crossed my mind. I have always enjoyed it but I became a lot more passionate about comedy when I became a student. Then I got the chance to work at the Fringe for CKP and now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the month of August.
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
SL: I’d like to be the type of person who can sit down and write out routines and punchlines, however most of the material will have been something funny I have said to a friend beforehand. I always write down material but that is more to add extra jokes in a routine and to help memorise what I am going to saying. When I am stuck on how to word a bit I will often try pitching it to my girlfriend and we’ll work on an idea. When that happens she will usually find the best wording for the punchline.
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?
SL: It is certainly a part time hobby. The only time I have felt like a proper comedian was when I was doing a show at the fringe last year and even then I was spending more of my day flyering for other comedians’ shows. I went back to feeling like a history student in September when I was gigging a lot less. However my final year of study has definitely influenced my comedy. The final routine that I have planned for this Edinburgh show is about the myths and aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement. I enjoy mixing comedy and actual facts, I think it comes from watching too much QI.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
SL: The best part of comedy for me is when you are sharing a room with people who have the same sense of humour as you and you get to have fun with them. Both with audiences and with fellow performers after the show. The worst part of gigging for me it is the expense of travelling, especially in Dundee as public transport out of the city is particularly overpriced.
I’ve been doing a lot more open mics recently to get ready for the fringe and I’ve seen a lot more comedy that is ‘fake edgy’ like rape jokes. Something I feel is more subtle and insidious is a vibe I’m getting from some young male comics don’t like women or feel they ‘deserve’ a woman since they are a nice guy. When I saw this happening the audience was split down the gender line with men laughing loudly and women were a bit more shocked. However comedy is a democracy, if the audience is encouraging them to carry on the performer will definitely do so. A lot of journalists discuss these type of problems in comedy without realising this is more a wider society problem.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
SL: I enjoy the crowds at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as they are often more comedy savy and since they’re from a variety of places you can’t rely on geographical or cultural humour too heavily. My favourite has to be the audience I got for my gig in Dundee since you didn’t have to explain how the comedy worked and not to heckle. I got to put on a bunch of my favourite comics each month and from what I heard back, comics and audiences really enjoyed the show. Doing any room where the promoter takes care of their gig is an utter joy to do.
There’s also a great gig in Glasgow every Sunday called Variety Society which has a wide range of performers with a really supportive atmosphere.
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?
SL: Not a massive amount. Usually people who are heckling are people who want to join in and can be fun. Heckling is much more of a problem if they are too drunk and don’t know when to stop. My favourite heckle was two girls chatting in the front row and I asked what they were discussing. One had asked if her friend if her hand smelled of latex. Then someone in the crowd shouted to me “Sniff the hand!” then the rest of the crowd joined in a chant. So I smelt it and it did smell of latex. Perth is an odd place.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
SL: If you’re reading this you are probably a comedy anorak or my mum. The advice my mum would me to give is to never swear on stage. The advice I’ve always taken is from a guy called Ken Robinson: “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Struan Logan will be performing Two More Liars with John Sheppard at Capital on Cowgate (PBH’s Free Fringe) at 2:50pm. Struan is also curating ‘On Tour (We Live Here)’ at The George Next Door 2 (PBH’s Free Fringe) at 6:25pm.