Welcome to Stand & Deliver
e love comedy. And we love magazines. Stand & Deliver is our expression of both. A carefully-designed, independent print magazine for people, like you, who understand and enjoy comedy as an art form. A grown-up conversation with the men and women of comedy about how and why they make us laugh.
These are exciting times for comedy. Stand-up is pushing out the boundaries and becoming ever more experimental. Innovation is at work in small clubs up and down the country every night of the week and with Stand & Deliver we aim to use the possibilities of print to report and explore from the cutting edge – offering readers an intelligent, alternative view of comedy. As you leaf through the pages of this first issue, you’ll discover that we celebrate comedy by getting under its skin, through a mix of features, interviews, storytelling, photography, illustration and design. We admire comedy that doesn’t just make us laugh, but engages our intelligence too. Comedy isn’t created or enjoyed in a vacuum, so Stand & Deliver follows the threads that link comedy to our wider culture, from food, science and literature to feminism, politics and religion. (Stand & Deliver is a magazine about comedy… but we’ll leave the comedy to the comedians.) We’ve sourced our content from a wide range of collaborators: from comedians, fans, and critics to writers, photographers and illustrators. We hope to appeal to a broad audience whilst satisfying the curiosity of a niche readership that appreciates alternative comedy outside the mainstream spotlight. We hope you like what you see and read. To help us on our mission, you can subscribe to future issues via our website at standanddelivermag.com, and follow us on Twitter (@mag_stand) and Facebook (standanddelivermag).
Creative Director & Designer Danielle Gilbert firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Ian Wylie email@example.com
Deputy Editor Chris Stokel -Walker firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks Tony Law, Storm Davison, Dave Brown, John Scott, Matt Roper, JoJo Smith, Gav Webster & Jen Harland.
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Cover illustrations / end papers - Simon Wild ‘Red brick’ spreads - Jamie Mackay Exit Sign - Ursula Hitz
RUNNING ORDER 6 8 10 12 14 20 22 24 26 28 30 40 46 50 54 60 62 68 70 82 86 90
9 BIG IN BERLIN Germans love laughing at themselves... in EEnglish Openers WITH AN ARTIST 10 BRUSH side of comedy paintings capture the quieter s Carl6Chapple’ BIG IN s BERLIN E at themselves... in English THE PUNCHLIN OF love 12 POWER Germans laughing comedians to follow him into politics JJón 8 wants Gnarr BRUSH WITHmore AN ARTIST AS CHIPSthe quieter side of comedy CHEAP capture AND SECLUDED 14 SMALL, Carl Chapple’s paintings s’ festivals of choice? comedian stand-up are What10 POWER OF THE PUNCHLINE
Jon Gnarr wants more comedians to follow him into politics 12 Mic SMALL, SECLUDED AND CHEAP AS CHIPS Slot Open What are stand-up comedians’ festivals of choice? 22 MATT ROPER: The Promised Land 24 GAVIN WEBSTER: Do it your way OpenSCOTT: Mic Bone Slotpickers, agitators & violators 26 JOHN Bahrain from land 28 JOJO MATT SMITH: ROPER: Postcard The Promised GAVIN WEBSTER: Do it your way GIRLS) (AND BOYS 30 MR BROWN’S s of stand-ups at work and play SCOTT: & Violators his portrait discussesAgitators man Pickers, BooshBone former The JOHN JOJO SMITH: Postcard from Bahrain MR BROWN’S BOYS t Acts Suppor
(AND GIRLS) Former Boosh man discusses his portraits of stand-ups at work and play 42 ALTERNATIVE COMEDY MEMORIAL SOCIETY The playground where comedians take the greatest risks Support Acts 46 ABSOLUTELY ABSURD sm that threads comic surreali of the MEMORIAL history COMEDY A short ALTERNATIVE SOCIETY Eddie Boosh Mighty the Python, to Monty where comedians like Lawplayground TonyThe Tonyand LawE take Izzard the greatest risks BUS LEAVES 50 “YOUR ABSOLUTELY ABSURDIN 10 MINUTES... BE UNDER IT” the by threads disruption snide a crucial Is heckling A short history of cog the or comic surrealism that envious? and Law meanTony to Python, Boosh and Eddie Izzard UP LEAVES IN 10 MINUTES... BE UNDER IT” 54 DRESSY “YOUR BUS costume consumed ng the comedy Uncloaki Is heckling a crucial cog orbysnide disruption by the mean and envious? DRESSY UP t MMain Suppor Uncloaking the comedy consumed by costume 62 LITTLE MR SUNSHINE HHe sings. He raps. And Seymour Mace is buying a camper van
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He sings. He raps. And Seymour Mace is buying a camper van 70 MASTER OF ILLUSION How Tony Law has conjured a career out of the absurd Headliner 80 GOD’S AMERICA Canucks, where even the FFrench-speaking comedians Land of TheMASTER OFthe ILLUSION tly) (apparen funny areHow Tony Law has conjured a career out of the absurd SHOW SKETCHAMERICA 82 GOD’S doodles where even the French-speaking comedians Law Canucks, of Tony Oodles The Land of the THAT WAY OVER THERE! MAYBE... WAY! ON OUR 86 are funny (apparently) ’s story by Tony Law A children SKETCH SHOW Oodles of Tony Law doodles ON OUR WAY! THAT WAY OVER THERE! MAYBE... Room Green A children’s story by Tony Law 90 A thank you to our supporters
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Words Ian Wylie Picture Taras
Big in Berlin Germans love laughing at themselves... in English
rom the U-Bahn stop, follow the graffiti, pasteups and cut-outs to the heart of Friedrichshain, east Berlin’s squatter central. Just a stone’s throw from Mainzer Straße, the scene of violent clashes when hundreds were evicted from their squats at the time of reunification, 70 or 80 people are jammed into the front room of a ground-floor flat turned collective venue. No photography is permitted but the food (all vegan) is free, the beer is anarchically cheap and the people grabbing the mic are not rebels, but stand-ups whose greatest act of radicalism is to perform in both German and English. The young woman behind the show (and the bar) is Carmen Chraim, a multi-lingual Lebanese engineer with no experience of stand-up before she moved to Berlin and found herself on stage at an open mic night in Neukölln. A year ago she started Comedy Auf Deuglisch, a monthly night of stand-up with comedians effortlesly switching between both languages. Don’t believe the notion that Germans have no sense of humour – on tonight’s showing, Germans not only enjoy stand-up, but love to laugh at themselves. One of the night’s biggest laughs is earned by a joke that building the Berlin Wall was unnecessary, when all that was needed to keep law-abiding Germans in place was a set of traffic lights. Earlier this year, Eddie Izzard played a six-week run in Berlin, delivering his entire set at the Admiralspalast in German. The Quatsch and Kookaburra comedy clubs, two of the city’s largest, have begun to fly in some of the English-speaking world’s biggest-name comedians. The German, American and Irish names on tonight’s bill – Stephanie Tucci, Grainne Maguire, Mimi Messner, Hauke Schmidt and Imaani Brown – may not be big (yet), but they are part of a thriving underground stand-up scene. Tonight’s audience include South African expats, Dutch backpackers and lawyers from Berlin. “Comedy in English is popular in Berlin because it’s so multicultural, with lots of expats as well as Germans who really like comedy,” says Chraim.“While there’s one, maybe two German open mic nights in Berlin each week, there are five English ones.”
“I’ve performed for the last five days,” confirms Luke Burrage, who does musical comedy, but earns a living as a professional juggler. “It’s a great scene in Berlin, but you can’t make a living from it. Everyone here has a proper job.” Tonight’s performances flip-flop from German to English and back again, with some comedians switching language mid-set. The rhythm of delivery changes too. “German jokes are often more word-based, and in German the structure of sentences must be really specific,” says compere Stefan Danziger, a tour guide by day who tries out new material on tourists. “The delivery has to be different if both verb and punchline have to come at the end of the sentence.” For Caroline Clifford, who used to perform stand-up in London, Berlin has offered a fresh start. “It’s a small scene, but there’s much more of a community here. In London, people do their 10 minutes on stage and leave. Here they hang out with each other. There are maybe 40 comedians in Berlin and we all know each other. In London, you can very quickly get caught in the trap of, ‘I want to be on Buzzcocks’. Here, we’re just doing it because it’s fun.” It’s been a similar experience for Josh Telson (pictured left), a film-maker who moved to Berlin from New York three years ago. Another regular at Comedy Auf Deuglisch, Telson also produces a monthly comedy radio show, Piffle, with younger brother Noah. They record it in front of a live audience, in the tap room of a craft brewery in Wedding. “The scene here is not hypercompetitive like you would get in New York, where you have to pay to get up at an open mic,” he explains. “It’s a great place to mature and develop as a comedian. We sometimes walk through material together, and that wouldn’t happen in New York.” But Paul Salamone, another American stand-up, is keen that Berlin comedy retains its German traits. “German comedy has its own strengths, from a greater emphasis on story-telling, to longform slam poetry and kabarett, which can be intelligent and political – and comedy needs more of that,” he says. “Germans deserve more than just a carbon copy of American and English comedy.” 09
Words Ian Wylie Picture Carl Chapple
Brush with an artist Carl Chapple’s paintings capture the quieter side of comedy
lawnmower and pair of speedos have to be among the stranger pre-gig demands made by comedians. But to be fair to schoolteacher-turned-stand-up David Trent, he brought his own skimpies. And the gig in question wasn’t a comedy club, but a sitting for a portrait by painter Carl Chapple. This Is Not A Proper Lawnmower is one of a series of portraits of comedians by the Barry-based artist that will form an exhibition at Newport Comedy Festival in October. Rhod Gilbert, Josh Widdecombe, Holly Burn, James Acaster and Mike Wozniak (pictured right) are some of the other stand-ups who have sat for Chapple over the last year. “I wanted to capture something quieter and more thoughtful with these comedians, a side of the performer that may be unfamiliar to audiences,” explains Chapple. “With portraiture, the picture always reflects the mood in the room; there is an intimacy there which is in contrast to what comedians are used to.” Of course, comedians regularly pose for publicity shots, wacky faces at the ready. But that’s not what Chapple wanted. “All the comedians I’ve been working with on this project are very comfortable being looked at,” he says. “They have a confidence in their physicality, but much of what they do involves moving around, being animated. I’ve insisted that they don’t do any of those things, that they just sit or stand, and that they don’t talk too much. It leads to a very different look, and it’s been revealing in some cases.”
like Josh Widdecome in a traditional, formal way.” These bandy-legged, rubber-faced, adrenaline-fuelled attention seekers – all aspects required for comedy – are required to reveal something deep inside of themselves to Chapple’s paintbrush and canvas when they take their seat in front of the painter. Joe Lycett went a step further, attempting to meditate during his sitting with Chapple. “He was a really good sitter, so my picture of Joe is of someone in a very poised state,” says Chapple. “When he saw the final painting, I was really touched by his reaction as he seemed to be quite moved by it.” His painting of Rhod Gilbert began as a couple of oil sketches made in Gilbert’s front room. “Being away from my studio, and working in a softer light than I’m used to, led to a more muted painting than I might otherwise have made, which I’m pleased about. “One of the things I’ve found most interesting about this project has been working with people whose stage personas may reflect particular, often quite extrovert, aspects of their personalities, but when sitting for a portrait they’ve presented a calmer, quieter side. My picture of Rhod exemplifies this, I think.” A comedy fan who frequented the Brixton Comedy Club when he studied painting at St Martin’s School of Art in London, Chapple found himself hosting a Tom Wrigglesworth gig in his studio when he moved to south Wales, after friends started The Junket, a club which specialised in putting on comedy in unusual venues.
Chapple says he tried to be flexible, inviting his subjects to suggest any ideas they had about costume, lighting or composition. So when Lloyd Langford, in a banana suit, spontaneously adopted the pose of Giorgione’s celebrated nude The Sleeping Venus on Chapple’s couch, the artist knew he had his image. He painted Holly Burn as if she were leaping through the air, to reflect the unpredictability of her on-stage performances.
Having already exhibited some of his portraits at Machynlleth Comedy Festival and Penarth Pier, the artist says he’s keen to continue his working relationship with comedians. They prove fruitful inspiration for his work.
“But others wanted to do a simple, fairly traditional portrait,” says Chapple. “There’s an interesting contrast when you present a relaxed and spontaneous performer
Chapple’s portraits are available for purchase from carlchapple.com, where prices range from £100 to around £2,000.
“I’ve found comedians to be very supportive and generous with their time,” he says. “They’re very interesting and also interested in what I’m doing.”
Words Hugh Wilson Pictures supplied by Henry Widdecome
Small, secluded, and cheap as chips What are stand-up comedians’ festivals of choice? he website for the Machynlleth Comedy Festival advertises the late bus to Aberystwyth as a kind of attraction. ‘Don’t worry,’ the flickering banner seems to say, ‘this isn’t Royston Vasey, you really can leave.’ You might not want to, though. One weekend a year the handsome market town of Machynlleth in Powys, Wales, is taken over by comedy. The Machynlleth Comedy Festival has only been going since 2011, but is already a firm favourite with performers. “Mach festival is the best, I wish I knew the secret,” says performer Edward Aczel, who was there this year. It might have something to do with the venues, he ponders. “I always do a room in a building at Mach fest – big advantage as it’s not a tent.” The town is certainly replete with fine stand-up size performance spaces. Rachel Mars, writer, director and performer of The Way You Tell Them, played at Y Tabernacle, an “incredible” former Wesleyan Chapel space, but also saw work in the bowls club, the school and in the woods. 15
“The whole town gets full of bonkersness, all with a great anarchic DIY-feeling aesthetic,” she says. “Plus, there’s an extraordinary range of ales and ciders in the festival bar. There’s no reviewing and so no competitive judgement feeling, just everyone trying stuff out.” The Mach has a sense of fun before the hard work of Edinburgh or the endless merry-go-round of the summer festival season. It’s surrounded by beautiful countryside and far from the madding comedy mainstream. The audiences are friendly and appreciative. You don’t have to spend the day handing out flyers in the hope of half filling your show that night. “The main thing that I want from a comedy festival as a comedian is an audience!” says Angela Barnes. “Machynlleth Festival has really nailed it by getting bigger 16
as the audience grows and not before, so you’re not scrabbling to get people into your show.” The Mach has evolved into the ultimate stand-up’s festival. Many turn up with works in progress, fine-tuning material for later in the summer. An absence of competitive pressure mixed with plenty of good walks and a well-chosen bar seems to do it for most of them. There isn’t a bad word to be said about The Mach. Other festivals offer similar delights from a performer’s point of view. In fact, when you talk to stand-ups about their favourite festivals, small and/or secluded usually comes out on top. “I quite like small festivals,” says Lou Sanders. “Green Man is a goodie. Machynlleth is smashing. I didn’t listen to any music while I was there though and that’s sometimes
a nice thing to do at a festival – vibing out to some sweet, sweet sounds. A lake is a nice touch if you can get one. That was my favourite part of Wilderness festival – having a splash around. Pop in a few special events and a bogus fortune teller and you’ve really got me.” There’s a distinction to be made here. Everyone likes Edinburgh, and everyone appreciates other more corporate jamborees like Leicester and Glasgow. There’s a chance of a big audience, a decent review or two, a bit of momentum, careers being made (or at least given a shot in the arm), and even profits being turned. But for all those reasons they can also feel like work. That’s less true of places like Machynlleth, Neath, Stourbridge, Kilkenny or Hull, where audiences are friendly and often just pleased you’ve made the journey,
and national newspaper reviewers, along with panel show producers, are thin on the ground. And while Machynlleth has a reputation as a place to try out new material and fine tune new shows, some of the later festivals offer the opportunity to have fun with an already well-honed set. Music and arts festivals are an increasingly important part of a comedian’s summer, because lots of them now have a comedy tent and because there’s just so damn many of them these days. They also offer different opportunities, and different challenges, for stand-ups. Wilderness is one that is gaining a good reputation among comedians. It’s not too big, it’s set in glorious Oxfordshire countryside, and stand-ups with time on their hands between shows can go for a wild medicine walk or a 17
hunter, gather and cook session. If nothing else it must be fertile ground for new material. “My favourite festival last year was Wilderness – it’s so relaxing and they have super helpful production staff,” says Charlie Partridge, one half of comedy duo Robin and Partridge. “Someone asked me what my favourite bit was and I answered ‘the orchestra, the yoga and the cricket’. What have I become? It’s so yuppie it makes Latitude look like a scrap by some bins.” The thing to remember, says Partridge, is that an outdoor music festival crowd is not the same as a dedicated comedy crowd. Which can be good and bad. “They’re transient so you have to really work to perform to anyone at all and then work to keep ‘em. It’s a lot more like street theatre. Because you have to be so responsive to what’s going on: as well as it being much more susceptible to the elements, there is a lot more room for anything to happen. I think as we are rarely ‘the thing’ people come to see, there is so much more room to surprise people. We’re the extra bit that can make a festival really special. Also, you get to see loads of bands for free and get a tan.” Festival veteran Mat Reed suggests a similarity between the more obscure comedy festivals and music festivals: there’s less pressure on stand-ups. “My preference is the music festivals because the arts festivals, if you do badly, it follows you around but music festivals are just a gig, and cost you a lot less,” he says. And sometimes, says Reed, it’s the creature comforts that matter most, especially to stand-ups used to long drives and bad food. “Being treated well always helps comics warm to a festival and Leeds and Reading are very good to the acts. “My favourite though is Camp Bestival. It’s much more laid back than the other festivals and being a family festival the idiot count is lower and the food is incredible – and way cheaper than it should be. I remember being charged four quid for chips once (at another festival) and, being from Sunderland, I was mortified.” 19
IINTERVAL #1 Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time t o hand over the mic to our favouri four of te stand-up s. Matt Rop himself tra e r finds pped (willi ngly) in Ne Gavin Webst w York. er cauttions against dom John Scott esticity. salutes the shockers. A Smith is bo nd JoJo arding a pl ane from Ba hrain.
lough your own furrow. Make your own mistakes. Take as long as it takes. Do the gigs you want to do and the type of comedy that you want to perform. I recently supported Alexei Sayle on some of his tour dates, the first he’d done in about 16 years. The first tour he ever did was in nightclubs with dancers in cages, and it also involved playing old picture houses and the like. My mate saw him compering on the first Comic Strip tour at Jesmond Picture House just next to West Jesmond Metro station in Newcastle with a mixture of future comedy legends and assorted fucknuts who happened to be in the right place at the right time. This was just a couple of years after punk had taken hold and the great thing about punk, looking back, was the fact that it was all made up as it went along, no-one took the “career path”. Comedy, and particularly stand-up, always seemed to be immune to the faux epic grandiosity of the music business with its schmaltzy back stories and showbiz chumminess. The great thing about being a comedian was the cynicism and the sarcasm, the ability to guffaw and invite the public to guffaw at this bunch of pricks and all the other pricks who are taking themselves so seriously. It was the propensity to take swipes, to make what would appear to be bad career moves by doing a ridiculous project just because you wanted to, not because you thought that’s what would keep your stock high and stay at the top of the tree for that bit longer. Comedians in good times have been a welcome release from the hum drum, and in bad times an outlet of salvation and hope for us all. But nowadays, someone somewhere in the bowels of the anti-anti brigade (the government body I’ve just made up to supress humour merchants), has pulled off this master stroke of allowing a few pretend rebels but only if they talk like them and only if they bash the working classes while they’re gently ribbing the government. This exercise normally takes place on Radio 4. You have two chances if you’re a comedian right now. The first is if you’re young and have one of those haircuts, tight trousers and most importantly can spin boring stories about your mate who’s “mental”, your Dad who’s “crazy” or someone on the train or in the supermarket who said a “mad” thing. Actually written and learned anecdotes are the
order of the day, a contradiction in terms I know, but that’s the way it is. You get your chance on Russell Howard’s Good News and then Mock The Week or 8 Out of 10 Cats. After that, you might land a great spot on Comic Relief or something like that which is a brilliant career springboard: and you’re away. Away to annoy the British public for years with your non-unique selling point. The other chance is if you’re in your 30s, you have a nice suit and you like to talk about your wife and how she wears the trousers in your house, or about how your kids are incredibly forward thinking and make you out to be a fossilised old fool. Domesticity is the order of the day and getting the crowd to empathise is paramount so you can hold an everyman tag right up to when you get your chance on Mock The Week or 8 Out of 10 Cats. After that you might land a great spot on a children’s charity show which is a brilliant career springboard: and you’re away. Away to annoy the British public for years with your non-unique selling point. Are we in this position by accident? You’d be very naïve to think that. Just as the Simon Cowells of the music business can now decide who goes what and where, the more faceless agencies decide who goes what and where in the comedy business and no one is going to breach those little holes they dig. They’re reserved for their acts that they’ve groomed and pruned and are now ready to cultivate. They’re all product going down a line and when they’re not needed anymore, they’ll be replaced by another set of tight trousers or another suit.What I say is ignore all that. Money should never be your carrot on a string and if seeing yourself on a silly charade of a show with jumpers or suits and settees or getting on a talking heads programme is a badge of success, then enjoy it but don’t call yourself a stand-up comedian. Stick to ‘TV personality’. Create your own gigs. Develop what you believe to be a new style. Do your own TV and radio pilots, tell people that if they want you, they have to do as you say. Find yourself a non-sycophantic “Ooh isn’t he/she famous” audience and you’re away. Away to make a small section of the British public hold you in high esteem and take you to their hearts. Simple as that. 25