Tuesday, 4 October 2011


This month’s comedy hero is a great MC, a fine writer of hour long fact based stand-up shows and one of the hottest, most sought after character comedian’s on the circuit. Alexis Dubus has got to be one of nicest chaps on the circuit – smart, encouraging and innately cool – yet he’s best known by the punters for his fully realised alter ego; Marcel Lucont. Now Marcel’s the utter embodiment of arrogance and disdain. And yet I’ve never seen Marcel fail to seduce a room by treating ‘em mean and keeping ‘em keen. A masterclass of improvisation versus well rehearsed pace, he is a marvel to watch whether in accented character or exploring a filthy topic as himself. I had a long chat with this fringe festival favourite.

How would you describe your comedy?

Erm... Badly, probably. That's one of those questions I'm always terrible at answering, like "What's your fee?" I get bored easily, so I've changed what I do a bit over the years, from observational to sketch comedy to lecture-style shows. These days I mainly pretend to be a louche, grumpy Frenchman for cash (fee varies).

Why did you start performing stand-up? Where did you bite the bullet and how did it go?

I've been a massive comedy fan all my life, and became part of a sketch troupe in my first year at the University of Warwick, where I was studying psychology and philosophy. We were called Ubersausage and ended up doing three Edinburgh Fringe shows, with a fair amount of success for a student group. My first ever stand-up gig was in 2001, doing 5 minutes for the now-defunct Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, and my heat happened to be at Warwick Students' Union. I paced about with increasingly loosened bowels for about a month before, packed the place with mates, and the whole thing was a bit of a blur, but what a rush! Tom Price (also ex-Ubersausage) and I basically goaded each other into doing it, and are still going strong a decade on. My first ever gag was a kind of visual one-liner, holding up a Sooty puppet, staring at it for ages, and then saying "it's the quiet ones you've got to watch." Pretty ropey stuff, and I didn't get any further in that competition, although I did reach the semi's the year after, Sooty joke included.

Did you watch live comedy regularly before? Did you do a comedy course?

I'd only properly got into live comedy from my first year at uni, when we had the likes of Daniel Kitson, Dan Antopolski, Adam Bloom, Rob Rouse and the Mighty Boosh come and play, all of whom were hugely influential. The highlight for me was when I got to review Stewart Lee, a legendary figure in my life from the days of Fist Of Fun, whose set blew me away. Years later when I started up a comedy night in London (Falling Down With Laughter) I got Stew to come and play our little club, and old school friends rocked up, clutching Fist Of Fun annuals. We used to record the Radio 1 shows and play them during lunch breaks in sixth form, so it was a fairly surreal but amazing experience.
I did do a comedy course - Logan Murray's first ever Amused Moose one, in fact. A handful of us had done a few gigs here and there beforehand, while others were completely new to it all and mildly terrified. Logan was terrific at getting the best out of us, and there are undoubtedly a few little techniques of his I'll subconsciously employ today. I'd just moved to London with my best mate and fellow comic Sy Thomas, and we decided to give it a go, as a little stepping stone onto the London circuit. Other guinea pigs on that same course with us were Rhod Gilbert, Greg Davies and Steve Hall, who I believe are all still plodding around the open mic circuit...

How hard were the first few years? What kept you going? What were your weaknesses? How did you improve them?

I think the nerves went after the first 30 or so gigs, and I didn't properly hit the circuit until 2003. What kept me going was the excitement of being in London, and being constantly inspired by other performers. Comedy had been my passion for a long time and here I was in London at the age of 24 trying to make a go of it, with a mate I'd known all my life (Sy and I moved into a ridiculously underpriced London Bridge apartment, where I then stayed for 8 years). I'd never had a 'proper' job and had no intention of getting one - the closest I'd come was a sabbatical job at Warwick Students' Union for the year after my degree. We kept ourselves afloat by doing various part-time jobs, including hosting boozy student gigs for Bacardi and Aftershock and doing a number of increasingly insane jobs for the wonderful Ministry Of Fun. However, there came a point 2 or 3 years in where this still provided the bulk of my income, and I felt my stand-up was falling short of the standard I felt it should be at this stage. A mate texted me saying, "I saw someone dressed as a giant bollock at Charing Cross station. Was it you?" and felt I should probably start to up my game a bit.

Sadly, I think as time went on I actually started to take less and less risks with my comedy and instead tried to write something with a wider appeal, in an attempt to get more paid work. However, I'd started doing a bit of children's TV for Nickelodeon, which meant I had to give up the late-night gigging for a while. Recalling a conversation I'd had with Josie Long about writing comedy for yourself rather than what you think people want to hear, I decided to take some time off to do just that. I handed the Nickelodeon job over to Sy and took off on the gap half-year I'd never had, taking a 6-month break to South America, largely funded by designing other comics' Edinburgh Fringe posters while out there and posting them back from various internet cafés (I'd done a graphic design diploma after uni in case the comedy went tits-up). To be honest, I barely thought about comedy at all for those 6 months, and it felt good to just clear my mind of all the London baggage in there, including all the neuroses about my own material and the 'comedy voice' that I felt I still hadn't really found.

I returned with a renewed vigour, and convinced that I was at the point of no return with comedy, which was exciting. The time out had done me the world of good. I decided to knuckle down, really make a go of it, and start writing comedy that I wanted to hear. I gigged my arse off and started to get more and more paid work, while supplementing that income with photography work, a hobby of mine that I then developed as a proper skill while out in South America (I mainly did promo shots for comedians and other performers, and still do from time to time).

Who are your heroes? Who still influences what you do? Do any other things (music/film/writers etc...) have an effect on your comedy?

Those acts who have followed their own path and retained absolute integrity - Simon Munnery, Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson, Robin Ince, Tim Key, to name just a few. I do have a love and fascination for leftfield comedy, and watching someone like Paul Foot, Tony Law, Ed Aczel or Dan Skinner as Angelos Epithemiou taking the roof off a gig (or baffle half a room and have the others crying with laughter) is an absolute joy. I love watching something and allowing your mind to let go, completely unsure of what's coming next, so I also find writers like Charlie Kaufman or Kurt Vonnegut hugely influential. That said, a brilliantly-crafted gag gets me every time, so I'll never tire of seeing Paul Sinha, Carey Marx, Nick Doody, Sean Lock, Milton Jones, Andy Zaltzman or Justin Edwards.

In terms of earlier influences, I'd say Monty Python, Reeves and Mortimer, Chris Morris and Steve Coogan, plus anything Armando Iannucci or Peter Baynham have put their name to.

How did Marcel come about? Did you try other personas first?

Marcel began life at my comedy night, The Falling Down With Laughter Experiment. The ethos was no straight stand-up, just characters, sketch acts and experimental stuff. I wanted to experiment with having a low-energy compere who simply didn't want to be there. So on went the roll-neck which I owned for some reason but never wore, and on went a blue suit I'd had since I was 17. French seemed the natural accent / demeanour of choice and so Marcel was born. He only gained a surname when I started to do him at other clubs. I'd done other characters in sketch shows but none that I felt I could take onto the stand-up scene.

Who were Marcel's influences?

I wanted him to be a Gainsbourg-type character, which seems quite obvious I suppose, but what a fascinating character he was. It still amazes me that nobody had done a similar act on the comedy circuit. The closest was John Hopkins' Fabrice character, which he used to do with Priorité A Gauche at the Edinburgh Fringe, one of my absolute favourite acts. As I started writing my first full-length Marcel show I did a bit of research into Gainsbourg. I'd already written an episode for a fake memoir, and there turned out to be some remarkable similarities between Marcel and Serge. I'll always try and get some literary or philosophical references into the Marcel shows, so Voltaire, Camus and Sartre have been name checked in the past. At least I get to feel I'm making vague use of my degree.

At what point did you realise "Right - I'm the French guy now! This is what I'm doing most nights of the week?"

When I started to enjoy it more. Our experimental night was beginning to outsell our regular stand-up night at Falling Down With Laughter, which kind of mirrored my affection for doing something a little different myself. As a promoter you begin to look at your own act more objectively, and if I asked myself who I'd rather book, me or Marcel, I think I was starting to favour the Frenchman. That wasn't the case with every promoter. Effectively I'’d be turning up to a show saying "do you mind if I do something totally different to what you originally booked me for?" Some took more persuasion than others to replace a high-energy Englishman with a low-energy Frenchman, and fair enough. That just gave me even more motivation to give a shit-hot performance as Marcel. And, in fact, I'd gone back over some old notes and revived a few gags that were too abrasive or cutting coming out of my mouth as myself, but put them in Marcel's and they flew!

You always strike me as quite a sunny, lovely person offstage or when you are yourself onstage... whereas Marcel is... a bit of bastard? Is he an outlet for the real Alexis? Would you get along with him?

Haha…cheers. I am quite a positive person, but I do have an affinity for cynics and people unafraid to tell it like it is. It can definitely be cathartic doing Marcel, especially at the rowdier shows. I can get away with so much more. And in fact Marcel often works best at late-night drunken gigs, when I can really let individuals know what I think of them, while hiding behind a mask. It's an utter joy to get an entire crowd behind me against one dickhead, especially a crowd whose nation I've been slagging off for the past 15 minutes. It says a lot for the British love-hate relationship with the French...

How important is the Edinburgh Festival to you?

It's been very very good to me, Edinburgh. Not financially, obviously, but I love having that focal point in a year to work towards, a culmination of a year's work where you get to show it off to anyone who'll watch. Some of my fondest memories are from the Edinburgh Fringe - I've been doing shows there since 1998. I still find it incredibly exciting, and through Edinburgh I've found myself performing all over the world. My favourite festival is still New Zealand Comedy Festival in May, where as an international act you're made to feel like a king. Then it's back to England for June and July, where that regal status is diminished somewhat, fumbling through bits of paper at Edinburgh previews before you hot the big one in August. It's incredibly intense as an experience, but as long as I've booked some time off then the Fringe acts as a wonderfully tough and stimulating comedy workout. For the first time this year I counted how many shows I did during that month - 82!

If you don't come out of that month a better comic, you're doing it wrong.

Your straight stand-up takes the form of a cheeky lecture on a risque subject - nudity, swearing. Do you have a love of research?

Absolutely. I'm as much of a geek as most other comics, and have always had a fascination with words. The Swearing and Nudity shows both took a good 9 months to research, and I loved imparting bizarre facts while getting laughs. I'd like to try and turn those shows into books. I keep the Marcel shows and Alexis shows as distinct as possible, as though they're done by two separate performers. Occasionally I'll promote a Marcel show at an Alexis show, but never vice-versa. I like people to leave a Marcel show believing they've just seen a Frenchman doing comedy, rather than a character act. My mate Bob overheard a couple picking up a Marcel flyer after my show last year and saying, "Ooh, he's back again. He was great last year wasn't he?" So they'd just sat through an entire show of mine, and presumably seen the previous year's Marcel show, and still had no idea it was the same person. It makes the whole Superman / Clark Kent thing seem all the more plausible.

What's your writing process? How do you process new material?

I wish I had one. Most of my ideas still occur when I'm meant to be doing something else. I think I've got better at realising when my brain's fully geared up for writing, so I'll make sure I sit myself down and get that done. On off days I realise there's no point in trying to get blood from a stone, so get other stuff done in my life that doesn't require my brain to be funny.

Was there ever a subject you wanted to do an hour about which you just couldn't find enough funny about?

Not yet. You'll know from the reviews when that day comes...

Any unfulfilled ambitions? Are you already tempted to jettison all your material and "house-styles" and start a fresh? Any new characters bubbling who might usurp Monsieur Lucont?

I'm actually not that ambitious, I don't have a grand plan, I'm just very happy to be making a living from what I love. I've got various stupid ideas planned, some of which may come off. I would like to introduce some more characters at some point, or resurrect my old sketch troupe Cat Of The Week in some form, but I'd like to see how far I can push Marcel. I'm hoping Adam Riches' Edinburgh Award win might get character comedy into the public eye a bit more. I still get the impression we're seen by many promoters as the 'novelty act,' whereas a great character act can elicit just as much of a response as a stand-up, just look at Wilson Dixon, Jeremy Lion and Lee Nelson. It's a real shame Ealing Live never went to TV, we're really lacking a Saturday Night Live style show to showcase the talents of our sketch and character acts.

Any great bits of advice for readers?

As I say, just to discover the importance of being true to yourself when writing. Don't just try and trigger a response from an audience, anyone can do that. What's your unique take on the world that will fire peoples' imaginations? Find that unique spark, without disappearing up your own arse or taking yourself too seriously, and hopefully you're onto a winner.

You used to run a lovely busy gig near London Bridge? Did you enjoy promoting or was it a means to an ends?

I loved that club, and Sy and I ran it for 6 years, but it just took up too much of my time and, coupled with some truly inept management at the venue, became more trouble than it was worth. I'm not saying it won't rise from the ashes again though - I'm extremely proud of the nights we put on there.

They were awesome. I always enjoyed being an audience member there. Do you miss it? It was a shame it closed but it seems you have outgrown the need to create stagetime for yourself?

Yeah, that's obviously how it started back in the day, to get more stage time, but later on I saw it as a way to champion the best new alternative comedy. Two Episodes Of MASH did their first gig there, Pappy's were regulars from the start, as was Russell Brand, and Dan used to try a load of Angelos Epithemiou ideas out to a wonderfully receptive crowd. The more I talk about it, the more I miss it, selectively forgetting the amount of admin that went into it all...

Any deaths / horror stories?

Absolutely. Someone once said to me that, with his aloof Gallic attitude, Marcel can technically never die. That's definitely not the case, I can assure you. It was at Up The Creek (as many great comedy death stories begin...) in 2009. After a ridiculously delightful Friday night show, where I felt I could have been carried out of the room on a wave of comedy joy, Saturday was an altogether different beast. I arrived in the first interval, and Dan Atkinson, who was compering, warned me they'd been a little 'excitable' as a crowd. What I found out later, though, was that the cause of this excitement to two massive groups of men was that of England thrashing France in the rugby that day. They took up most of the back section, and had been drinking all day. Cue volatile atmosphere. Cue Dan doing his best verbal firefighting job.
Cue Dan introducing a 'Frenchman' to the stage...
Cue the toughest gig of my career to date.
A comic can be as witty as they like, but even with the mic at full volume they will always fail to be heard over a barrage of abuse and rugby chants. Looking back, I'm kind of impressed that I still did my 20 minutes (the headliner had to ditch the gig as unplayable halfway through his set), and didn't break character once. I recorded both gigs, and still have them on file, one labelled 'BON,' the other 'MAL.' If nothing else, it serves as a reminder that as a comic we can never truly rest on our laurels, even in the same club on the same weekend.
Being Up The Creek, you have to walk through the crowd to get off the stage, whereby one of the gang squared up to me, and in a forceful cockney accent, announced in my face, "THAT WAS THE MOST UNFUNNIEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE, YOU CUNT."
Malcolm would have loved it.

Any dates or productions you want to pimp out shamelessly?

Of course! Well, the book's out. Having wanted to turn the Swearing show into a book for some time, Marcel beat me to it, and got a publishing deal. "What We French Think Of You British... And Where You Are Going Wrong" is out now (New Holland Publishers), and I'm pretty proud of it. I'm also doing the final performance of my 2010 Marcel show, 'Encore,' at Manchester Comedy Festival on Oct 18th and 19th then Brighton Comedy Festival on October 21st.
Plus you can see me doing weirder stuff at the wonderful Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, fortnightly on Tuesdays at the New Red Lion Theatre, Islington.

And you are headling my gig The Decapitated Puppy at The Intrepid Fox on Wednesday October 12th. Merci, Marcel.

Alexis Dubus - Comedy Hero! We Salute you!

Monday, 12 September 2011


Every time you watch Brendon Burns you are due an unforgettable comedy moment. He never phones a gig in, he powers through any crowd no matter how unruly or timid, and for all the bluster and volume onstage he often hits the nail bang on the head. To be sure he says some shocking stuff onstage, stuff that vanilla audiences drawn in by his TV credits and Edinburgh award might gasp at in unison but he wisely knows to bark at them "TAKE IT! TAKE IT!" Keeping the room on his time, his page. Brendon has a reputation for taking no prisoners but his shows cover big topics and he always manage to be tight and funny. It's not unusual to find Burnsy expressing keen insight on subjects as diverse offence, metaphysics, his own demons or the Arab Spring. This interview catches him again at a crossroads in terms of style and subject matter, no surprise for a great comic who always seems to be evolving... Read on.

Bobby Carroll: How would you describe your comedy?

Brendon Burns: Forever changing and therefore, extremely frustrating.

What first got you up onstage, behind a microphone?

My sister was in a car accident in the UK and lost her husband and unborn kid. It was up to me to come out here and kind of cheer the family up. I figured if I could do that stand up would be a doddle. It wasn’t. I was nineteen, angry and confused. It was nineteen ninety so the politically correct label was still proudly attached to “Alternative Cabaret” with no one really asking exactly what that entailed. Needless to say the gig went horribly. The MC had to pull me off stage while I bellowed at people.

Did you watch live comedy regularly before? Did you do a comedy course? Were you a heckler?

I was obsessed from the age of nine. I’ve kinda told this story to death now, but I saw Flip Wilson live as a kid and was hooked ever since. I did one course with an American woman called Lorretta Colla in the early nineties in LA. And yes I did heckle. I read an interview with Keith Allen once where he stated that a guy that sits on his own down the front and heckles is way braver than any comic. So I did, all the time. As a heckler I killed. It was easier as expectations were lower. Plus you could pick your moments to be funny. Plus I have a naturally loud booming voice that carries so no one could ever shout me down. Some comics still remember me as that guy. I never wanted to fuck up the show. I just didn’t know any better. The first guy that ever got a kick out of it was Ian Cognito. I think he appreciated my bolshiness. The only other guy I know that used to do that was Johnny Vegas. Although he’d have friends with him when he did it the fucking pussy. Admittedly I was just nineteen and living in London on my own, so I simply didn’t have any friends.

So you have a bit more time for hecklers than most acts?

I think that’s why no matter how funny a heckler is, if he’s too cocky afterwards, we still look down on him a bit. I do anyway, because I know from first hand experience that, deep down, he wants to stand where we are but is too frightened and/or doesn’t have the skill set yet.

Then again there’s the other type of funny heckler (Which is usually an older guy that hasn’t been to too much comedy) When asked a rhetorical question he genuinely mistakes it for a conversation and just blurts out raw honest answers. As if to say, “Well don’t leave this guy hanging. He just asked us a question!”

The drunk (usually pretty) woman is always labeled the biggest nightmare as she is entitled, self absorbed spoiled and will not shut the fuck up. Personally I think that’s an opportunity to speak to her in a fashion that has been a long time coming. You give her three chances then you unload like you would with anyone else.

How hard were the first few years?


What kept you going?

Delusions of grandeur

What were your weaknesses?

Bad Material

How did you improve them?

I learned from my peers and friends. Adam Bloom was easily the most influential in how to structure a joke.

Who are your heroes?

You know as you get older it becomes harder to have heroes. Simply because no one really fills you with awe anymore. Your heroes tend to be people that do something you can’t. In comedy, after a while, that just doesn’t happen anymore. Like a lot of comics I wasted a good five to eight years doing a bad Bill Hicks impression. Now I watch him and can relate to the lack of maturity. I think, “Really kid? You’re such an activist? Why the fuck are you telling drunk people in bars this? Why are we paying you good money to tell us how fucked up Capitalism is? Why are you travelling to the UK to shit on the US?” I’ll tell you why, because he’s a comic and he’s vain.

Don’t get me wrong I loved him and still think he’s hilarious. I just would have loved to have seen him grow out of that And make a bit more fun of the thirty-something version of himself as an old jaded fart. Bill Hicks on parenthood: there’s an album missing from his collection. Bill Hicks on products he would endorse because they’re little things that make him happy. Stupid stuff.

Look at Carlin. There’s a complete comedy career from a guy that genuinely took on the supreme court and still managed to not take himself so seriously.

What are the differences between the Australian circuit and the UK circuit?

None. It’s just hotter outside and therefore way less work.

What's your writing process? How do you process new material? Do you write stuff down or just go at an idea once you are on stage?

The writing process of comedy is the same as the key to insanity. Everyone wants the answer in a nutshell when the reality is a thousand different ways. Dear god, what a wanky answer.

You take on quite big themes in a no nonsense, blunt style – do you ever approach a topic and go “Hold on Burnsy -this needs kid’s gloves rather than aggression”?

All the time I’ve never thought of myself as solely aggressive. Emotive? Sure. The bottom line is, I’m hard of hearing. That’s why I yell. I’m asking people to turn the monitors up at gigs more often now and am finding it easier to lower my voice a little. The answer to that’s more technical than psychological I’m afraid.

You come across a very smart and insightful onstage yet often brutal – so what do you prefer on a night off ; a good book or a night on Call of Duty?

Call of Duty Zombies all the way. Although as a kid I always had my head in a book. We had a farm and I used to get this sentence yelled at me all the time, “Get your head out of that book and you might actually learn something” My next show is about picking up were I left off... At school I was always so into English and English Lit. I wrote my first Novel/Road Memoir recently and I want to get back into it. But study and analyse the classics a bit more. Yet, as always like all comics, I need to make a show out of it in order to justify the time.

Any unfulfilled ambitions?

Make an Indie film. That’s next. I’m currently writing a screenplay and a US pilot. Then I’ll get to work on next year’s Edinburgh.

Are you already tempted to jettison all your material and "house-styles" and start a fresh?

Yeah, these are definitely the questions of a man that has got inside my head a bit. How have you managed this? Are you outside right now? I’m in a French Chalet.

I’m not canvas slashing but I’m not so angry either. I don’t feel the need to be heard or noticed so much in real life and translating that to the stage is a very difficult process. But it’s one I’ll go through and will probably see me through to my fifties.

Any great bits of advice for readers?

It’s gotta be George Carlin again, “Stop and take a break if you have to, but never quit”

Any deaths / horror stories? Or great backstage stories?

Too many to single out just one right now.

First time we met I got punched by a punter and you knocked him clean to the ground and got him in a lock before I knew I’d been smacked– is wrestling’s loss stand-up’s gain? What do you love about the wrestling?

I worked it out recently. Wrestling in the eighties was always black and white. Good guys (faces) V bad guys (heels). It’s the one thing from my childhood I’ve always retained. They act out little moral plays that wind up in inevitable comeuppance. These days they blur the lines of morality a great deal more, which makes it so much more interesting. It’s the art form that’s most comparable to stand up in that they change the performance based on the audience response. Also they generate emotions from an audience that theatre can only hope to emulate and the kind of upsets “real” sports only chance upon.

Any dates or productions you want to pimp out shamelessly?

My book’s available on Amazon. My DVDs on hmv.com and I’ve got a new DVD recording coming up at the Bloomsbury in London on Nov 12th.

Thanks alot Brendon. You are also playing my Stratford Upon Avon Club on Thursday 17th if people in that part of world would like come to that.


Thursday, 18 August 2011


Nick Sun has to be one of the most exciting, innovative acts out there right now. His bleak honest content can not so much split rooms as switch different sections off and on so their laughter is like fairy lights. Achingly funny, he immerses you in his very unique world which is dirty and raw. He can be a tough trip for audiences just wanting 20 minutes of easy gags. Yet for all the chaos he brings to the stage (looppedals, deafening volume, disturbing “impressions”) he is constantly pushing to find new ways to keep his audience hooked on his uncut supply. A truly global comic - I’m still not sure if he is Australian, Canadian, Nepalese - he has supported Doug Stanhope on tour, had a successful run at the Soho Theatre and is gigging hard on the London circuit he settled down into over a year ago. I’ve seen and enjoyed him countless times over that last year and watching his own unique take on working a room is a true education. Let’s chat to him….

BC: How would you describe your comedy?
NS: Hopefully funny and interesting.

What drew you into stand-up?
Always wanted to do it from age 11 after seeing some unfunny dude on TV. I thought I was better than him. Then I watched a lot for 3 years and then I hated uni and working so I got drunk and got onstage 2003 Jan 11th.

Wow. You remember the date. Were those first years tough?
The first years I remember fondly, were fun.

And you kept coming back to that?
I don’t know what kept me going- the reward of crowds love? A relief from overwhelming social anxieties? The idea that I was good at something… I thought? It’s more the years 3 to 8 years that have been the fucking hard shit. Transitioning from fun hobby to all consuming career… Oh God! No complaints… I LOVE COMEDY… I LOVE….

You won some big competitions early on S0 You Think Your Funny and RAW in Melbourne – but you definitely don’t strike me as a broad, mainstream act. What was the fallout of that?

Yeah I won some comps and I was too new and dissatisfied with my style... Then I had attention and pressure and basically died on my ass and started shooting myself in the face cause I was trying to experiment with something different in front of big kahunas and I have an inborn fear of authority figures real and imagined and yeah…

You seemed to have pulled that all together into something outstanding now though. Who are you heroes?

I love Bill Hicks and Andy Kaufman are my two big influences. Doug Stanhope, Daniel Kitson, Paul Foot, Phil Kay, Rick Shapiro, Mike Dobbins…. comedically Louis CK. American dudes, mostly.

A lot of my ones are American too. What about other stuff away from stand-up?

Ren & Stimpy. Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. I also love ODB! The bands Ween, Animal Collective and Mike Patton have influenced me as well. As well as a bunch of rappers and shit... Aesop Rock, Bus Driver, El-P, Cannibal Ox and so on...

I had to youtube just about all of them. You make me feel so white and old. What's your writing regime? How do you process new stuff? Do you write stuff down or just go at an idea once you are on stage?

I used to write for a few hours every day, go over stuff I collected in my notebook through the day and I’d also go over stuff I wrote three years ago cause I could see things from a new distance... let them ferment, combine old ideas with new ones and…. I don’t know… sometimes I just throw shit out. It varies but I can’t just sit down and write anymore. Not comedy directly. I usually have to be doing something unrelated like writing a short story or poetry to get to comedy. But yeah, the more I do it the less I really know what the hell is going on. I’m fucking lost man!

You always find something though. That leads into something I’ve always wanted to broach with you. Long question imminent….When I watch you do new stuff it often starts out with quite strong comedy conceit that many stand-ups might whittle down to merely some good jokes – but a few gigs down the road you go the other way you really try and distort and mess with the form. Now - you know you are funny, are you more interested in experimenting with style so it almost doesn’t look like comedy at all?

My bad habit is giving up when people don’t get it. It’s fucking infuriating. I think its shit. But yeah, if everyone is silent… I don’t know… I need to work on this and not lose faith. Also I lack discipline and throw in the towel too early and shit. I let my mind kill me sometimes. It’s all just a mental battle. Comedy is a state of mind, you know? And sometimes I have problems controlling that shit... I’m going to get back into meditation to tame this diseased train wreck I have for a stream of consciousness.

I think that’s an overly harsh self assessment. If comedy’s a battle I think you always get to a victory in the end, you might loses some trenches in the mid rounds. You often seem to get the crowd back with you by playing with the accepted dynamics of the gig. Like when you go into the crowd and become the overly helpful enthusiastic cheerleader for yourself. I guess that’s where the Andy Kaufman comes in, in a little way?

Yeah… I know about messing with form, I guess part of me just wants to try and find a new style that I can call my own. I think I’m getting there sometimes but it changes... I’m at the crossroads at the moment where after doing standup for eight years straight. I don’t know if I care about it as much as I used to. But maybe that’s a good thing. I want to experiment with something else as well though. Try something different as I guess I suck at the whole admin and networking shit. The business side of comedy. I’m just over it a bit.

Nick Sun! Are you bored with stand-up?
Yeah I am a bit bored with stand up. I think I need a fucking break! I want to be fisherman in the tropics and farm pineapples. But when I see amazing comedians my passion is reignited but those guys are few and far between I think...

Do you really like to fuck with the audience – lose them to win them back? Or are you more concerned with staying true to your voice safe in the knowledge you are good enough end on some kind of high?

I don’t try on purpose to lose the crowd! I think it is just my nature to try and fuck shit up. I don’t know why? It’s just how I am... even when I try not to do that…. it just happens, the more I try not to do it. So I’m trying to structure that into my set now... I don’t know… I got some hate and anger issues that go way back...

You seem like the nicest guy offstage. I just want to cuddle you every time I see you. Then all this bleak nasty tumbles out of you when the mic’s on? Do you ever sit down, think of a bit and go “Nah, that’s too fucked up. Keep that to yourself, Nick”?

Yeah, I know about the nastiness, Bobby! I guess my shadow comes out on stage cause I’m too busy being worried about being liked to ever want to say the stuff maybe I actually think in real life... I never think anything is too much as long as it’s funny. I guess I don’t know. I don’t know! Shit! I don’t freaking know! I’m just covered in dirt trying to get clean.

Any unfulfilled ambitions? Are you already tempted to jettison all your material and "house-styles" and start a fresh?

Yeah I have unfulfilled ambitions... I’m working on a kind of noise/ hiphop/prank musical duo thing called 'Air Burial' with my cousin... That will be funny hopefully in a twisted abstract way. I think I want to comedy but in a non-comedy context... I just would rather be in a fucking band of some kind, I think! That’d be way cooler... more hotter groupie girls too and shit...I hate this comedy lifestyle!

You are so good at it though. Funny and interesting. Memorable, distinctive.

You caught me in a weird period, Bobby. But they are all weird I guess but I’m standing at the crossroads waving a shotgun at the passing traffic and crossing my fingers while spitting blood out on a dead flattened pigeon if you get what I mean!

Any dates or productions you want to pimp out shamelessly?

I just need a break and will be taking one soon! I will find enlightenment and won’t ever have to worry about anything again! Or maybe it’s just this fucking festival, man! Oh god it’s exhausting! Comedy can be so unfunny sometimes!I mean I love it and I’m so lucky to be doing this
Hurrah for life!
Hurrah for comedy!

vomit vomit

cry laugh laugh


much love!


Nick Sun, Comedy Hero. We salute you!

Nick is currently doing his new hour show “Pure As a Dog” at the Edinburgh as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival, City Café, 19 Blair Street. Every night 8pm until Aug 28th

If he isn’t farming pineapples then he is headlining my gig: The Decapitated Puppy at The Intrepid Fox, Central London on Wednesday 14th of September. Tickets on sale now here http://www.wegottickets.com/event/127095

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Mr Delaney is King of Nasty One Liners. And he also has been known to write a few sweet and innocent ones equally as funny too. He's had a hit Edinburgh show, written gags for Russel Howard's Good News and had two of his gags make Dave's Top Ten Jokes of the Fringe, the only act to do so. He is a proper gigging comic and we quite often find ourselves sharing a bill so instead of me awkwardly fawning over him on here I've interviewed via the old email. He's playing my club The Decapitated Puppy this Thursday (13th of January 2011) so if you want your Delaney fix you can book tickets here.


How would you describe your comedy?

Just jokes that make me laugh and the shortest amount of faff necessary to get to the funny bits. I write jokes that fit into one of three categories clever,/la-di-da, dark or silly. I keep the ones that get the biggest laughs. These are usually the dark ones.

Why did you start performing stand-up? Where did you bite the bullet and how did it go?

I always wanted to. I was one of those guys on the fringes of the scene trying to get his nerve up. I used to write jokes for an old friend 'Money Saving' Martin Lewis when he dabbled in stand up. I wrote him a joke about nurses. I thought it was brilliant. He tried it a couple of times then said it didn't work. I said he wasn't doing it right, and you can fill in the blanks from there really. The joke was:

“When a man dies the man's body leaks fluid from the penis and the anus (apparently true), therefore when a man dies in hospital it's part of a nurses job to tie a know in his penis and put a cork up his anus.

The way I see it there's two very clear lessons you can learn from this.

i) Never go out with a nurse or

ii) Go out with a nurse.”

... (actually Martin may have had a point).

Did you watch live comedy regularly before? Did you do a comedy course? Were you a heckler?

Yes. No. No.

Yes, I love comedy and have always watched (and, better, listened to) loads. I find it odd that some comics haven't ever done this before performing but some of them have gone to be brilliantly successful and unique so maybe they have a point.

How hard were the first few years? What kept you going? What were your weaknesses? How did you improve them?

Very. I died a lot. I was kind of deluded and better in my head than I was on stage. That really helped. I was uberdeadpan, which is all very well when going well but the lack of flexibility and energy can lead to you dying a lot. After I started playing Jongleurs I pretty soon fucked off the deadpan.

If I was to start now I don't think I would have the resolve to make it. It is years of very hard work for very little money to get good.

How have you evolved over the years? What were the major realisations/turning points you made on stage that improved your stand-up?

After about 5 years I started doing the really wrong jokes that I'd always written but never had the nerve to perform. This combined with losing deadpan made things go much better.
I will never be a great performer, but I can bluff it and be OK, but I've become a really good gag writer and that gets me through most things. I'd rather be able to write a good gag than act everyday things out in a likeable manner to a full stadium.

Who are your heroes? Who still influences what you do?
Max Miller, Henny Youngman, Woody Allen, Ken Dodd, Emo Philips, Mitch Hedberg, Anthony Jeselnik, Steven Wright, Tim Vine, Milton Jones, Stewart Francis

Do any other things (music/film/writers etc...) have an effect on your comedy?
Nah, but good use of language in songs (especially Country and Western, Johnny Cash type stuff) often seems to veer towards one liner territory. Macca, Squeeze and Mike Skinner all do a bit too.

What's your writing process? How do you process new material?

Hear a phrase (has to be hear). Note it down in my phone as something I could break and dick about with. Then every few weeks try and work all these miscellaneous bits and work them into jokes. Try them somewhere nice. Keep the best 1 in 10 or so. Bin the rest (after a couple of chances and rewrites). I grade new stuff A to D.

A - Gets really big laugh or applause. It's straight in the set.
B- Gets a good laugh. May make it into the set but will probably be found wanting when it's measured against the rest. Slip into set at nice clubs
C - Little laugh. Rewrite and try again.
D - Shite, straight in the bin, of if it's had a couple of rewrites and it's still a C, then also in the bin.

Are there any jokes that took ages to get right?

Yes. I have several jokes in my set that took months, or sometimes years, to get the right wording. Eg. Israeli Occupier and Filling the escort with diesel.

If I am convinced something is funny I keep coming back to it every few months. 50% of the time I get it right eventually.

Are you happier of something that works instantly or something you had to really tinker with but eventually bore fruit?

Hmmm. As a 'craftsman' I should say the latter but really I prefer the thunderbolts. They are free from the Gods.

How has the gigging landscape changed? For the better or worse? Are their any rooms or clubs that you really miss?

Open mike clubs are even shitter than when I started, and that shitness has spread from London to the rest of the country. Audiences are less patient (but that suits me). Generally I am pleased to see more pro clubs.

Any unfulfilled ambitions? Are you ever tempted to jettison all your material and "house-style" and start a fresh?

Yes. I didn't set out to be a one liner comic. It was just what i was good at. I may experiment with trying some cleaner (or at least non-dark stuff) and see if I can do a whole set or show of that.I write stories, but they never work. I know they are good, as I usually end up giving them to other comics, but audiences just won't have it from me. Don't know why.

What newer acts have caught your eyes? Any great bits of advice for readers?

I like acts that work really hard. My main advice is always work hard. Write every day. Gig every night. You will get better. Most comics are lazy. Every day you are working harder than them you are pulling ahead of them.

Don't make excuses as to why you're not getting the success you want, just work harder.

I started with many people more talented than me. Most are gone now. The ten or so open mikers who I started out with who worked the hardest are the ones who made a living out of it, not the most naturally talented ten.

Is it ever the audiences fault?

Yes, sometimes. One liners just don't work to audiences that are tiny or low in energy due to the feedback loops being more intense than with other types of comedy (or with gubbins like storytelling or music).

How important is the Edinburgh Festival to you?

Quite. It shouldn't be but industry people will never make the effort to see you so you have to waive your comic booty in their faces. I got lots of work and kudos from my fest show, but it cost a fortune. Even selling out I lost £8.5K

How do you feel about youtube or seeing your material away from the stage?

I don't like it. I gave Chortle permission to use three minutes of stuff on youtube, that's the only time I've ever given permission, and that was as I had a show to sell.

My jokes end up everywhere, it's annoying as it crushes their value, and your very best jokes get crushed fastest and become weak but there's nothing you can do about it really.

Audiences don't ever think 'Fuck that guy is so good at writing jokes I've seen his stuff on text and emails and the web' they just think 'What a lazy unfunny cunt, just taking jokes from texts and the internet'.

Any deaths / horror stories? Or great backstage stories?

Don't do puns in Germany. I assure you it won't work.

I did a benefit for a hospice. It was rubbish. A few staff in and not many others. Very quiet. I was closing. I really wanted to say 'What's up with you people? Don't you get enough off watching people die at work?', but I bottled it.

Any dates or productions you want to pimp out shamelessly?

Vote for my Twitterfeed in the Chortle Awards please!

Thanks Gary. I'll leave them with a link to the Twitterfeed ,


voting slip


(best of luck)



Comedy Hero, Gary Delaney... We Salute You!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


"Serial killer's who make themselves vagina suits out of fat girls' skin *** LIVE WEBCAM ***."

Sorry about that if you've tuned in for misanthropic typed mumblings on a few things stand-up. There'll be meaty words for you to chew on in just two paragraphs time. But if you've clicked on this blog searching for screengrabs of the Ted Levine playing Buffalo Bill in the "Goodbye Horses" scene of The Silence of The Lambs, shame on you! Ignore this well written, now almost fortnightly, piece of e-publishing fantastic-ness scroll down to the blog entitled TONGUE (Date Tuesday 27th of July 2010) have your wank and fuck off. Still here?...You see - I was just shown just how many hits this blog gets.... 1,000 individual IPs a month. Exciting! An arthouse internet smash! Look Ma, I made it! Then I was shown which post attracted the most traffic, about 25%, and it is the one with a blurry picture of a fictional character wearing a tapestries of dead plumpers' backs. That's my Avatar (and by "Avatar" I mean hit movie rather than the picture I want to represent myself on the web.) Still... if typing my opening sentence increases my google hits I'm all for it.

Maybe I'll be known as the place that broke this kinda fetish on the web, made it cool and respectable, mainstream. But who would want to do that? I hate snotty little pricks who go "I only like Radiohead's first two albums" (Guilty) or "I was watching The Wire before The Independent had even heard of it." (Also very guilty) There's nothing cool about only liking stuff when it is new or obscure. Otherwise the Jews would be the most hipsteristy fucking hip religion. "I was only into God's early stuff before he introduced that Scrappy Doo style figure and started playing sermons on Mounts and Golgotha - He sold out." One day some Hoxton cunts going to figure this all out, abandon Atheism© and buy themselves a dreidel and some Palestinian land.

Someone I got into quite late in the day was Glenn Wool. Before I started stand-up I hadn't heard of him. But for the last 4 years I haven't missed a chance to see him. I saw his Edinburgh show Goodbye Scars, where he swaggered back and forth between audience and stools, swigging beer, reading notes, being brought on stage to a big screen of this:


And I was sold. Hooked. A Wool-head.

Yes.... he started his Edinburgh show with that! ~~ Moustaches! And not a moustache as in "It's November and I'm a twat with no personality so I'll grow one so I can be as cool as when I used to quote catchphrases from The Office in my office and people laughed and it'll raise awareness of what a desolate irradiated post-apocalyptic wasteland my creativity is." Just a montage of cool fucking almost permanent manly lip insulators to warm and warn his audience! (Play it again... Go on... You know you want to! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIv3uLTZ3J8 )

He is my favourite live experience. A big burly sigh of surreal ideas welded onto big themes and issues. A Canadian howl of self-assured desperation. A reprobate, a loser, a sage. His insight into the global recession was the suits had had their try and devalued everything with their greed, now it's time to let the hedonist losers have their shot, like Glenn. And he was smart enough to point out not to wait for the incoming generation to improve matters as the middle classes' spawn were showing themselves to be more self-centred and corrosive than their corrupt parents ever were. Instead of dressing like white collar criminals they were dressing like gangster rappers. Let's not wait for them to be in control of our finances, hey? How did he frame this pure fucking distillation about the inbuilt suckiness of Western society? In a narrative that involved him waiting 50 minutes for a booty call and wondering about smurfs.

I always worry that the stand-up we currently expose audiences to is becoming so vapid that even well thought-out, well-delivered ideas that are about something, annoy the punters more than broccoli in a cream cake. Why would you want your greens if you are only used to the sugar rush? But then I look at Glenn Wool parading around the stage, bellowing his voice scalpel at the world's hypocrisies and getting big, big drunk laugh and I realise you can force feed them the smart stuff. You can be political. You just need to be the coolest guy in the room. And that's what laidback commentator Glenn is. To quote the man himself "There's tons of good things about Glenn"

And for that...Comedy Hero... Glenn Wool. We salute you!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Ban This Sick Filth!

I'm sitting in a theatre lobby feeling rather sorry for myself, like a child who has wet himself at his own birthday party when faced with the excitement of a man in a Ben 10 costume turning up. What I thought I wanted has ruined my party for me. Left in "another" room to dry off, calm down and let everyone else enjoy what should be my kinda thing. Wallow in my own uncomfortableness, no longer part of the fun. I'm not in my 7 year old's party best though. I'm dressed like a middle class twat (Gap jumper over white shirt) and the posh theatre ushers are all peeking over at me muttering something along the lines of... "he's the one who walked out tonight."

Clearly people walking out of the Lyric's revival of Blasted is a more than nightly occurrence. The box office staff probably taking Deer Hunter style bets on which Guardianista will go bang rather than click at this performance. I'm the Christopher Walken tonight. My brains to be mopped up with my dignity as Tuesday's walk out. Still if they are expecting the production to be this consistently purging of punters by it intended and advertised nature then why the fuck do they unplug the coffee machine straight after curtains up?

If you don't know Sarah Kane's Blasted it is a play about misogyny, race, racism and civil war atrocities told in a brutal constant mocking bray. On its original 90's run at the National Theatre it was met with such universal scorn (as was the rest of Kane's output) that the young playwright eventually OD'd then hung herself at 28. Strangely it wasn't the middle age cock being whipped out 5 minutes in or the intense pressure cooker of the rat-a-tat-tat nastiness that did me in. I didn't stay seated for the cannibalism. When the first rape occurred I had slinked into a little atrium to rest my head against a cold, calming stonewall of the stalls entrance. I was not a witness. I'd left my front row seat for the brightly lit hotel room assault and abandoned the fine work the actors were doing with an In Yer Face text. I wanted it out of my pale face.

(An usher has just dashed downstairs for water... someone has been sick in the circle section. Others have joined me down here now. I'm no longer the stand-out of the shows' reactee... merely an also ran to a loud vomitting lady)

No for me, the reason I took an early bath was the smell of chips, non regurgitated. Either someone had sneaked a MacDonalds in and this was the tipping point for my nausea or I'd triggered some long suppressed memory of me being abused in a Fish Shop and Sarah Kane's play had unearthed the potato stench of my scarring non-memory. I just felt oppressed - the hard cadence of the conversations, the jerky sexual touching between grotesque male and young girl and the waft of french fries (perhaps imagined) and had to leave. Experiencing the constant sexual aggression happen in front of you in 3D without the £2 glasses, I bubbled with a need to mount the stage and stop the insults and enforced masturbation or find myself with restricted view seats to my own panic attack. As the girl hurriedly dresses for a morning after escape I knew an hour of horrors were still in store, I just wanted to give her a cuddle.

Tomorrow I'll go out and tell a rape joke to strangers as well as other such giggle inducing grimness and there'll be no usher to tut if it sits uneasy with someone. Which is the correct, human response to such a thing no matter how well crafted, pointed or performed, the uneasiness not the tut is human. Shocking things should offend, get a rise. Well done, Sarah Kane, for creating a litmus test for who is still human. But I suggest you don't bother paying £15 to sit the exam.

Having said that... the curtain's come down and my girlfriend who stayed the course is handing me my coat and scarf which I so meekly abandoned. After some mock concern she reveals her chufty badge. She's enjoyed. "It was a bit like Salo" (Something else I turned off a third of the way in) And then later with some awe "There were two full English breakfasts and an actor ate them both in 3 minutes." I love her... anal rape with a gun as entertainment is to be brushed over in conversation but a lad who can pack away a double serving of two eggs, bacon, sausage and still hit is marks is a highlight. How unmanly I feel now... And on date night.

She's handed me the program on the tube. Everyone involved in the effective production is credited here in print. Even the manager of the Cafe. He didn't pull his fucking weight. Six of us were left waiting for partners to finish frollicking in the shock of Blasted by the midway point. We sat espresso-less with bad tastes in our mouths twiddling thumbs or blogging. Costa Thomaides you've missed a massive gap in the market. Theatre lobby barista bellend! Buck your ideas up or ask to be credited under a pseudonym.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Music used to be such an important part of my life. I used to buy the NME every week, then Uncut and Mojo every month. And from these reviews and ardent radio listening I'd squander my cash on CDs. 10-15 albums a month, but 10-15 carefully selected, approved and passed down to me by trusted friends and printed kudos. A 50-50 mixture of new and old; everything by Talking Heads, a chance encounter with The Replacements, hello Operator Please, JJ72 were not that bad, weren't they?

And I've noticed over the last year I just - haven't. I'm not downloading, I still listen to my MP3's constantly but like the little bear's porridge my CD collection is satisfied. Just right. Seems complete and the few new albums I've bought have been by bands I already know and trust. I'm getting old. Old. I have no need to experiment anymore. Not even sonically. Turn the ignition on, the hosepipe is wedged between window and driver's door frame, the garage is the place to pass out into oblivion, I'm obsolete as a consumer of music. It is Father's Day compilations and unwanted Greatest Hits from here on in.

The rot set in about two years ago. I started going to Rough Trade and asked them to recommend one loud and fast (pre-gig build up) and one slow and folky (for the night coach come down whether I've stormed or died). Every month! And this worked, both as a gigging ritual and in their recommendations. Some fucking great music I'd never have discovered or tried entered my waxy holes. But now I have a lovely girlfriend to occupy my time, there's no need for Fergus and I to pop in on Sunday, him to flop down off-lead by the World Music section while I scrabble through the poorly alphabetised racks hoping someone will re-release Tempasm "Taxi Headbutt," a track I heard once fleetingly on the Evening Session in the 90's and never found a copy of. Also there is no need for me to solicit the advice of the sexy metal girl who worked there, due to exactly the same change in relationship status now - I wonder if she misses me? And my lonely impulse buys? Or at least the sleepy dog?

Those come down albums are important. After a gig I need consistent folk downer filling my ears, to wrestle the adrenaline of performing. Beforehand high energy shuffle is fine but when I reach the long traipse home only whole LP's of Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Lampchop will do the trick. Go on, Nick Drake, you've won me over at last, I'm yours forever if you can just erase Ipswich Conservative Club from my mind. Otherwise poor young girlfriend will be kept up with me twitching beside her, unable to sleep, going through the performance in my head from every angle. But I have a better tonic now. I have Todd Barry.

Coincidentally I purchased my first Todd Barry CD at Rough Trade. They'd order that (Medium Energy) and Patton Oswalt 222 "by accident".

Sexy Metal Girl (Circa 2008): Hey - you've asked if we have stand-up CD's right?
Bobby Carroll: Yeah.
Sexy Metal Girl (Circa 2008) Kerching! I've ordered some by accident and you seem to buy any old shit I can't get rid of.
Sir Fergus: *dog snore*

He just spurts out little bits no more than 50 seconds long where he'll sarcastically deconstruct a boring thing in life. And he finds things boring in their multitude (this sentence makes no sense.... someone make it make sense, please); Restaurant etiquette, tickets for concerts, filming in his street. Decimated in a low key vocal skewering. There's no fat to what he does. He edits his routine perfectly. His bile and contempt for everything is only matched just by how dispassionate he is about everything. His deadpan only alleviated by the brevity he moves through subjects. Like a machine gun with a silencer, all of American urban life is ploughed down at an almost whisper. His CD tracks number 40 plus over an hour set. He lulls hecklers into obedience, he can be high status while pulling the stained net curtain open into his miserable life. Is there no trick this motherfucker can not pull off?

Off stage... I've seen him once at the under populated Soho Theatre, strangely while I sat next to his antithesis - upbeat charmer Jason Manford.... he carries on his pedantry. "Making of" documentaries focus on him pointlessly sitting with the sound mixers, his website devotes most of its bandwidth to quirky computer anomalies printed on receipts from chain eateries where he dines. And his withering commentary of these non orders. Everything he does seems organic to his wry, detached persona. One CD is recorded in a Chinese restaurant, you can hear the orders being served, the china clanking.

And his voice and worldview chills me out no matter how much my soul wants to breakout of my body. A human downer who makes me laugh. Todd Barry.... Comedy Hero. Take a bow!