The joke that you loved but no one else did?
It was a thing I amused myself with on the walk back to my hotel from a gig that had a drinks tab, and I was staying over, so I got 5 pints tipsy. And it was a thing about “treating women as objects? No I treat objects as women” and then singing in a crooning style about and object and going “and that’s why the lady…is a clamp” “and that’s why the lady.. is a lamp”. And I did about 6 of those on the walk home and it amused me greatly. Then I tried it at a real gig, and it was nothing. Not even a bad reaction. Just a “this isn’t a thing”.
The joke that worked but you are not so proud that it had?
Easy. “Going on Tinder when you’re horny and lonely is like going supermarket shopping when you’re hungry and drunk. You’re not gonna get what you want. You’re gonna get some thing cheap, something artificial, and something with a much higher fat content than was advertised”.
It’s crafted properly but I come across as a cunt.
The comedian(s) that made you want to be a comedian?
I remember watching Russ Abott as tiny kid, and finding that really funny. And him doing a joke that I had thought of (and old person saying “things were different when I was alive”. I’d done it to my mum and she’d gone “no, you mean when I was a lad” and I remember not knowing how to explain that, yes, that was the switch around. I intended that).
I remember I had a strict bedtime, except for when comedy was on, and I could watch it with my dad, I remember watching an episode of Red Dwarf and being sure I was about to be taken upstairs and it never came (It was the one where Kryten learns to lie: “it’s a small off duty Czechoslovakian traffic warden”). Have I Got News For You, and Spitting Image and other things that were on in about 1992. I used to love Paul Merton on that. He did a sitcom and it was great. I don’t want to check back in case it wasn’t. I was almost certainly the only person in my school year watching “Friday Night Armistice” (that does hold up. Loads of it is on youtube. It’s great.)
I was really into sketch and sitcom and then I discovered stand up, where they were building these sketches and these sitcoms out of nothing. It’s the best artform. It can literally just be a person talking and they can create whole worldsand make you think about things from 100 angles, and it can be about death and pain or it can be about potato peelers and mini quiches.
And it wasn’t everywhere. It was dotted around. Sometimes after Match Of the Day, I think it was just called “the stand up show” with Tommy Tiernan Mcing. And the Channel 5 version of at the Comedy Store. When I was about 16, I was in a class of 7 lads for electronics, and me and another lad called Boyd would have watched it the night before and would try and insert it into conversation like we’d thought of it. I remember us doing the entire of Ed Byrne’s Ironic routine as if we’d both just come up with it. What odd children we were.
First live stand up I saw was Bill Bailey. Bewilderbeast tour, I’ve never laughed harder. This is very specific to the age but there was a point when we had dial up, and Limewire was a thing, and you could download comedy tracks. At a penny a minute. And there were quite a lot of Billy Bailey tracks on there, all about 3 mins. Now Bill Bailey is named after a song “bill Bailey won’t you please come home”. And people wouldn’t get the artist/ song title the right way round and so you had to gamble on whether “Jimmy Durante: Bill Bailey” was Jimmy’s version of the song or Bill doing stand up or a song about Jimmy Durante. I had to put 50p in the internet bill jar and then wait ages to see if it came off. (it almost was always Bill Bailey won’t you please come home).
And I loved Eddie Izzard as well. And when I was at uni I read a book about Bill Hicks, and sort of got into him. And then I read Frank Skinner’s book and it went from being a thing that other people did to being a thing I could do. I had assumed until then you had to go to oxford and do radio 4, get a sketch show and then do stand up off the back of it. But Frank writes about doing weird gigs in pubs i’d been to, and it made me want to do it so bad. He has some quintessentially brilliant bits.
The last thing that made you cry with laughter?
It was Sarah Bennetto’s birthday, at some little East London community garden place. Nice hot day in July. We were all doing mild day-drinking, and I went up to get ice creams from the little teashop. Got a selection. Proper ones made in a factory and sort of handmade ones created by smushing raspberries into a mould. The woman serving warned me that the handmade ones were very cold and to let them melt a bit first. I went back, and relayed this. And John Luke Roberts went “why, what’s going to happen?” with an air of bravado, popped his tongue out and held the ice lolly to it. It instantly got stuck, like with frozen poles in cartoons. Then he tried to pull it off, and realised it was going to tear his tongue out. And so he sat with his tongue out for 5 minutes, in dreadful pain, trying to lick around it, whilst we all laughed in his stupid, stupid face. It is still the funniest piece of physical comedy I have ever seen. Write as many jokes as you like, you won’t top that.
John Luke is a very gifted clown and has a real skill for pushing through the boundaries of what other comedians would get bored of in search of a laugh, so I’m very surprised that 5 minutes of his Edinburgh show isn’t him getting a too cold ice lolly stuck to his tongue.
4-25th Aug (not 13th)
Pleasance Courtyard: The cellar