Click “Read More” to read the interview transcript.
Click “Read More” to read the interview transcript.
1) What is your favourite thing about being in a double act?
My favourite part of being in a double act is making Paul Whitehouse laugh. He has the most infectious laugh I have ever heard. Usually I make him laugh about things that are so bad we could never dream of doing them on telly. They are just for us. Sometimes I think we are truly evil people.
2) Are you a healthy eater?
I am not a particularly healthy eater. I tried to eat lettuce and crap but I don’t really like it. So I have to go to the gym a lot to try and get rid of all the pies and chips and pizzas and chocolates and rats.
3) Are you any good with technology?
Technology is great in terms of computers that correct your spelling and stuff. Email is annoying Twitter is bollocks Facebook is a recipe for time wasting. Ditto Instagram. My kids do all this but I do not have it except the email which I hate.
4) Are you a cool dad?
I am about the least cool dad there is. I am obsessed by things being tidy and as I have three teenage children this is a source of enormous irritation for them. They hate me.
5) How did you begin your comedy career?
I began in comedy when I was at university over 33 years ago. There were not many comedians around then, so I was lucky to get a television break purely by being a comedian. It’s much harder these days as there are loads more, and they are much funnier than we were.
6) If you were an animal, what would you be?
I think I’d be a duck. They’re pretty chilled out, and it’s easy to get away from predators simply by sitting on a lake. As long as the lake doesn’t have some weird Jurassic monster in it with a taste for ducks.
7) Are you religious?
Yes. I believe in Tarvuism.
Look it up on the Internet and you will see it is the one true religion. My daughter is actually a High Priestmunty of Tarvuism. To all Tarvuists out there I say “Hebbo”.
1) What excites you most about the Edinburgh Festival?
The opportunity to perform exactly the kind of show you spend all year dreaming of performing. It’s completely up to you what you put on stage. Also being with all your mates in a beautiful city is pretty perfect.
2) What was your first Edinburgh show about?
My first hour was a mixture of jokes songs and dancing about my life. I’ve continued the theme in every show since.
3) Does your comedy attract a certain type of audience?
A very attractive one. I get a very broad mix of ages and gender. I like that.
4) What is the worst experience you’ve had with Edinburgh accommodation?
A mouse for 3 weeks. Caught him with some chocolate, felt guilty.
5) What is your most treasured memory of your comedy career so far?
Just starting and realising I was going to be able to do it for a living was amazing. Having a very nice gig in the Channel 4 Comedy Gala at the O2 was intensely fun.
6) What show will you definitely be seeing at the festival this year?
As I have my children with me I expect to see Sarah and Duck at least twice.
7) What do you hope to gain from the Edinburgh Festival this year?
One Million pounds.
8) What do you imagine your last ever show will be about?
I think it will be a mixture of jokes songs and dancing about my life.
Guildford-born stand up comedian Tom Lucy is only nineteen years old and has already supported the likes of Harry Hill, Simon Amstell and Russell Howard on tour. Upon walking on stage, Lucy has expressed that the first thing on his agenda is often to address his young age: “It’s almost like having a physical disability or something; you have to mention it as soon as you get on stage, or it makes people nervous.” He’s not apologetic for being so young, though, and at no point does Tom make any attempt to spout advice to those who have lived longer than him; there is, somewhat refreshingly, no sense of self-entitlement to be seen.
It’s worth questioning, then, whether being young in the comedy industry is something that serves to benefit a performer (this draws a neat parallel with MoodyComedy, with the site first coming into existence when I was fifteen; it is very much a case of trial and error, and learning as we go along). It seems that Tom has been able to use his apparent innocence to his advantage, with his cool-headed demeanour on stage giving the impression of experience way beyond his years. Any nerves are cleverly concealed, masked by an array of quirky mannerisms that he may not even be aware that he is doing. His material is honest and relatable, often covering issues relating to puberty and relationships, though Lucy still manages to appeal to an older audience as well. Unsurprising, then, that he has recently been crowned Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year.
1) What is a typical week’s work for you?
I usually have about 4 or 5 shoots planned each week – whether that’s comedy commission, theatre marketing or magazine editorial. The rest of my week is editing, retouching and setting up new work… the business side of things!
2) How did you begin your career in photography?
Photography was a big part of my degree (Communication Design BA) and my final major project was a short run of a book that shadowed performers backstage at 8 West End shows. My first professional commission was a campaign for a musical called Avenue Q in London. The shoot was so much fun, and I was totally hooked and knew that photography was the right career route for me! Comedy has always been a love of mine, so the minute I owned a camera, it was a no-brainer that I would endeavour to shoot my heroes of comedy.
3) What is the most challenging part of the whole process?
I’m not sure there are particularly challenging parts of the process – building a strong, trusting relationship with the subject (often in a short amount of time) is the most important and potentially challenging part, because I think portraits are only ever successful when that relationship is in place. I used to hate it when people talked about ‘energy levels’, but now I TOTALLY get it…!
4) Do you feel a pressure to do your subjects justice in your work?
A lot of my work is in marketing, so the aim is always to do the subject justice. That has probably translated into my other work too, such as my ’50 Comics’ project. However weird and idiotic the setup of the shot looks, I still like the subject to look and feel their best. Nowadays, social media is the most important tool for exposure and getting your work ‘seen’, so it’s really key that the subject of the portrait is happy and proud to share the work with their fans and peers.
5) What makes someone fun to photograph?
People willing to take risks and try things on the outer cusps of their comfort zone… My favourite part of the process (particularly with comedians) is the collaborative element – grabbing a coffee beforehand, chatting over ideas, and playing around on the day to see what’s exciting and unexpected. I love editorial magazine shoots that are entirely pre-planned with makeup, stylists, moodboards etc, but equally there’s something refreshing about somebody running off stage (or running into a studio space between gigs) and creating interesting photographs from nothing. My project with comedians is a mix of those 2 things – it’s interesting to ask my mates which shots they think have been pre-planned with a ‘creative team’ and which ones were in a rehearsal room cupboard with 3 minutes from start to finish!
Today, October 11th, marks exactly two years since MoodyComedy came into existence. And in the beginning, I guess a year makes a lot of difference. It’s strange that I can’t actually remember the exact moment I decided to set up a website, or even what sparked the decision, but it has since become one of the most pivotal decisions of my life so far and it makes me proud to see how far the site has progressed since the last post I wrote of this nature.
As I’m sure some of you will remember, only a couple of weeks after my last birthday post, I was offered the chance to interview my comedy idol Noel Fielding for the British Comedy Guide. As well as teaching me the valuable skills involved in professional interview-conducting, this experience has enabled me to meet my favourite comedian and talk to him about my work. Noel Fielding knows about MoodyComedy and that is quite an achievement, in my eyes. This time last year I had also just launched my Seven Questions With feature, posting interviews with Lost Voice Guy and Angela Barnes. This month I hit the milestone of having interviewed 50 comedians, including the likes of Harry Enfield, Josie Long, Katy Brand and Harry Hill. This has lead to another interview series in recent weeks, where professionals working behind the scenes in the world of comedy are interviewed for Ask The Expert.
In January of this year I began writing for The Velvet Onion, which has already proven itself to be a very educational experience as I have been able to approach new subject matter as well as work with different writing styles. It has been eye-opening to see how much of the limited free time these people have is spent on producing such top quality material, enabling The Velvet Onion to reach a following of over 12,000 people. These reporters have a real passion for the artists they write about, and their positivity and ambition is infectious. I’d like to thank the team at The Velvet Onion, Paul, Mog and Helen, for all of their encouragement over the past ten months, as well as Mark and Aaron at BCG and all of the people who have enabled the Seven Questions With feature to become what it is today.
And of course, I have to thank you, readers of the site, for the retweets, shares and kind words. This is a hobby and though it is very time-consuming with looming deadlines and daunting challenges, I still absolutely adore writing for you, and hearing your feedback validates all the hours I have spent labouring over my writing. Without the support of creative people like you, MoodyComedy would hold far less value than it does. This next year will see a lot of changes for me, and for MoodyComedy too. In just under a year I will be heading off to university, meaning that I will be living in a brand new city, and I am very excited to absorb a new comedy scene as well as meeting more like-minded people. I hope I end up studying in a city as vibrant as Birmingham, which I have been lucky enough to grow up in. So here’s to another year of hard work, good friends and lots of laughs. I hope you will join me.
So the Edinburgh Festival draws to a close for another year. The final weekend saw a whole array of awards being presented and futures being temporarily flipped on their heads. The Edinburgh Comedy Awards are perhaps the most prolific of the entire arts festival and the effects of winning either the overall award for best show or the prize for best newcomer results in a great deal of publicity and ticket sales for the next year and beyond. Nominations for both titles this year, which were announced on Wednesday (26th August) with winner announced yesterday, were as strong as ever.
Those shortlisted for the award for Best Comedy Show were James Acaster, Joseph Morpurgo, Kieran Hodgson, Nish Kumar, Sam Simmons, Sarah Kendall, Seymour Mace and Trygve Wakenshaw. A diverse list, to say the least, with two of the comics above coming from Australia and another one being a mime act from New Zealand. Sam Simmons (who was MoodyComedy’s Comedian Of The Month this March) took the award along with the £10,000 prize, which was presented by last year’s winner John Kearns, for his bustling, surreal show Spaghetti For Breakfast. This was the third time the comic had been nominated for Best Show, much like James Acaster who’s show Represent saw him nominated for the fourth time, showing the high calibre of nominees.
The award for Best Newcomer is one that has proven itself time and time again to completely catapult the careers of the world’s brightest new talent. ‘New’ that is, at least, in terms of being newly recognised. A quick glance at the list of previous winners will demonstrate to any cynic that this award is not to be overlooked. Winners over the 35 years that the award has been running have included Sarah Millican, Harry Hill, Tim Minchin, The Mighty Boosh and Josie Long. This year saw Danish stand up Sofie Hagen claim the crown for Best Newcomer with her debut show Bubblewrap. Sofie’s show has been delighting audiences with her refreshing take on growing up into a proper adult and issues such as body image and the stigma around mental health. You can catch my interview with Sofie Hagen here.
And finally, the winner of the Panel Prize was Karen Koren who has worked as the founder and artistic director of the Gilded Balloon for the past 30 years. The Guilded Balloon also saw the launch of the So You Think You’re Funny? competition which has been running for 28 years.
A full list of past nominees and winners is available on the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards website.
This month’s Comedian Of The Month is the strange character comic, John Kearns.
Winning Best Newcomer at the 2013 Foster’s Comedy Awards and following that up with the 2014 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award saw Kearns make history and he has continued to blossom ever since. With tousled wig and oversized, crooked false teeth, this comedian really epitomises what might be considered “niche” in the comedy world, being, in his own words, “a joke that got out of hand”.
Talking of John Kearns, Bruce Dessau (Beyond The Joke) recently said “this work is very much for people who see a lot of comedy and crave something with a stronger flavour,” so perhaps this explains why I am such a fan of Kearns’ surreal comedy, but I’m not quite sure that’s it. I can also see how he could potentially appeal to a much larger audience, spanning over all ages, as he can certainly be compared to the likes of Harry Hill and Reeves and Mortimer, who have charmed adults and children alike for decades.
The absurdity borders on tragic at times, which makes for truly interesting viewing, and this is balanced by relatively frequent and astute observations derived from the simplest of things, like “I saw a five-year-old wearing a watch,” which earns a laugh in itself but is then developed even further. With his childish mannerisms and lively delivery, John Kearns really puts the joy into stand up. It is a pleasure to see him on stage as he clearly has a lot of fun, as well as bringing an enthusiasm to his performances which can only be admired.
Follow John on Twitter.
This month’s comedian is Diane Morgan and particularly her alter-ego Philomena Cunk who makes regular appearances on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe. Despite the fact that the show isn’t actually running at the moment, Diane Morgan has been relevant for me this month because I found a bit of her stand up online (although I couldn’t really find a lot).
Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe is very satirically dense and although this is important in comedy, it can often get a little too heavy. This is why characters like Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas are so brilliant for the programme: they bring the silliness to a sometimes very depressing world. Philomena always has the most incredible lines that really catch you off guard, with her little mini-documentaries about The Internet or What Is Time? They are completely stupid, and the things she says aren’t intellectual in anyway; that’s why I love her.
Diane manages to convey a beautiful silliness within five seconds of screen time which is reminiscent of many comic heroes such as Vic & Bob and Harry Hill. This mood can be shown through words, or even just a raise of the eyebrows, which is a skill not many have mastered (think, Paul Foot or Bill Bailey). Here is a clip from the latest series of Weekly Wipe, it is the first episode in the series of Philomena Cunk’s Moments of Wonder (‘Time’).