The joke that you loved but no one else did?
I persisted with a bit this year for several months that just explored the idea of whether or not it would make the news if ZZ Top shaved their beards off. I still find that such a funny image – partly the image of ZZ Top with shaved heads, partly the idea of it making the front page of a tabloid. It really makes me laugh. Audiences consistently frowned in puzzlement every time I said it, so it turned into a really long idea for a movie about a young paparazzi guy who does a stakeout outside ZZ Top’s ranch to get pictures of them without their beards, but then starts to worry he won’t know what they look like. Then the newly-shaved ZZ Top get in the Eliminator and go on the run, and eventually go into hiding as Buddhist monks. I think all of that is SO funny. But apparently it’s just not.
The joke that worked but you are not so proud that it had?
Probably my Zoopla bit. In 2014 I had a routine about getting confused between Zoopla and Zoosk, the dating website, and getting emails about properties and thinking they were chat-up lines from various women. I did it for a long time, not because it was particularly brilliant, it was just fine, but it was one of the very few things I’ve ever come up with that went down well in clubs, I’m normally just not that great at club gigs. And it was very formulaic and had that sort of “ba-doom, ba-doom, ba-doom” rhythm that unimaginative stand-up has and the worst thing was that it wasn’t even true, I’d never made anything close to that mistake, I just made it up. I sacrificed the idea of expressing something remotely creatively sincere because I’d come up with something that seemed to fit the rhythm of what club stand-up “ought” to be, and that’s a terrible sacrifice to make.
The comedians that made you want to be a comedian?
I wanted to do comedy not because I loved stand-up or live comedy, but because I loved sitcom, and my falling in love with that eventually made me fall in love with just the general idea of trying to be funny. So my comedy heroes are Steve Coogan because of Alan Partridge, and Rob Brydon because of Marion & Geoff, and the whole teams behind Peep Show and the Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi. The comedians who actually made me want to be a comedian were the ones I met at uni and first started gigging with – Jon Brittain, John Kearns, Tom Moran, Pat Cahill. They’re all now very successful comedians or writers in their own right, which is really amazing, that the people who inspired me just because I enjoyed their company and the things they did onstage have all gone on to do it for a living.
The last thing that made you cry with laughter?
John and Pat, as it happens. I was at a gig of theirs last week where they read out a sketch they’d written about a sort of glitzy 70s chat-show host interviewing a ridiculous 1950s entertainer. They were reading it out and the whole script was the most utterly ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. They were reading it as though they’d never encountered it before, and seemed as bemused as the audience by why on earth they’d written it. It was so good.
Heroes @ The Hive, 19:30-20:30,
15-17 Niddry Street EH1 1LG
3rd-27th August (not 16th)
18+ £5 in advance or Pay What You Want on the door