Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Thom Milson: I’ve been going for about 14 months but I tend to tell people 8 because I sucked really bad during my first six months (I mean really bad). I’m better now.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Thom Milson: An outsider looking in? That’s what I feel I am anyway. It’s also the way I think a comedian should be.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Thom Milson: Without a doubt George Carlin, Louis C.K, Kyle Kinane, Todd Barry, Eddie Pepitone, Dana Gould and Patton Oswalt. There’s a whole bunch more though. I’m a big fan of American comedy.
Oh, and I really like a Podcast called Walking the Room, which is hosted by Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Thom Milson: Most people say yes, I don’t. The truth is I didn’t know I wanted to do it until I saw Carlin’s HBO special Jammin’ in New York and I thought to myself ‘I want to be one of those guys and I wanna hang out with people who do what that guy does’. I then went down to a local open mic and asked for a spot. I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew it felt right. Plus, my life was dreadful and I had nothing to lose.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Thom Milson: I write mainly on stage now. I used to script things, and I see a lot of people doing this at the moment, and it always felt very forced to me. Even if you get it spot on the audience can tell it’s scripted. Now I write the basic form of progression I want something to take, as well as lines that I think are funny and work the rest out on stage. It’s usually not right the first time, but I’ll take the good bits from there and build on it. I like to add something new, no matter how small, whenever I’m on stage.
Also, and I completely stole this idea from Carlin and C.K, I burn all of my material when it feels like I’ve got it there. I mean, I usually do it for a big crowd, or a really nice show, but then it’s gone. Some people think I’m crazy for doing this, but it’s just to stop me being lazy. If I don’t have any material I need to write new stuff, and so far it’s always been better than what I got rid of. It’s definitely made me a better writer.
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?
Thom Milson: At the moment it’s a hobby, and a full-time obsession. That sounds really corny I know, but it’s true. I would love for it to be more than that, and I’m working on it. I’m in this for the long haul now.
As far as my main job influencing my material, I’d say that it doesn’t that much, if at all. Sometimes I would like to talk about what I do, but I might lose my job, so I don’t. Someday I might.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Thom Milson: I could be here forever listing the enjoyable parts but my number one would be the beautiful women. Since starting this I’ve not had time to breath with all the beautiful women wanting to be near me. That’s not true. But women are amazing creatures (way better than men).
If I’m going to be honest the most enjoyable part is getting to hang out with comedians, it really is. It’s strange because you can know comedians you really disagree with, on almost everything, but still love them because you have that bond of being a comedian.
I’d probably say the frustrating part is how difficult it can be to get to know the right people when you start out. There are a lot of people doing this, some are amazing, and some are not, and everyone needs stage time to learn and grow and sometimes it can be difficult to get yourself in particular nights because they’ll be about 50 people fighting for the same 4 spots.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Thom Milson: I like an audience who are quite forgiving and open to anything. Live stand-up is, in my opinion, very different to what’s on TV and I like it when they’re on board with that. I also have a weird thing for performing to crowds that are considered tough.
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?
Thom Milson: I’ve been heckled once, and it was before I even said anything into the microphone, and some guy just yelled ‘DUUUUDDDEEEE!’. The worst part of it was that he was a comedian.
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
Thom Milson: I don’t want to sound negative, but be prepared for your life to fall apart. It might not, but comedy takes up a big chunk of your life if you take it seriously and this can affect your life. For instance, I found myself spending less and less time with some of my “normal” friends. It’s not cheap either. You will fall in love with it though, and everything about doing comedy is amazing.
Also, don’t try to be someone you really like. Instead, just be yourself.
Oh, and be wary of Gong Shows when you’re really new because they can be disheartening. Learn to be comfortable on stage, telling your material, before you attempt one.