I love writing stand-up but unfortunately do not get to perform anywhere near as often as I would like, which is a reason for wishing to move into London before the end of 2013.
When I do get to perform, this is the sort of thing I do.
Interview from Comedy Blogedy (From 11/11/11)
Comedy Blogedy: How long have you been gigging in stand-up?
Liam Newman: Fourteen gigs. The first was in November in 2010 but then I decided to concentrate on University in hope of getting a first class degree. On results day it became clear that I needn’t have bothered. I restarted in June and managed to last the full five minutes at The Comedy Store’s King Gong that month at my first attempt. That has been my highlight to date although I’ve just recently made it through to the ¼ final stage of Leicester Square’s New Act competition too.
Comedy Blogedy: How would you describe your comedy?
Liam Newman: Five out of ten. I’m definitely a believer of the saying ‘write what you know about’, which unfortunately in my case results in 5 minutes of self deprecation and embarrassment. Quite often the feedline is a lack of luck with the ladies. The main reason for doing stand up was that a mate once told me “you can laugh a woman into bed”. On reflection that little philosophy seems to be somewhat inaccurate. Or perhaps I just need to up my game.
Comedy Blogedy: Which comedians influence your comedy?
Liam Newman: On the open-mic scene there will always be more experienced comics eager and willing to offer their advice whether it be a gag or a tip on delivery, so it is actually their input that has more of an influence than any high profiled acts. Having said that, Ricky Gervais was the reason I got into comedy. At 12 years old I fell in love with The Office and not long after his ‘Animals’ DVD was being watched at least twice a week. I’ve since become mildly addicted to Stewart Lee and Russell Brand, although my act is nothing like either of theirs. Seemingly shy, self deprecating comics like Mark Watson and Jon Richardson are definitely acts I look to for inspiration whilst the achievements of both Jack Whitehall and Daniel Sloss at such a young age make them a pair that anybody in my position should study religiously.
Comedy Blogedy: Did you always want to go into comedy?
Liam Newman: Ever since the first time I watched The Office I wanted to be involved with comedy but always thought it would be as a writer rather than a performer. I studied TV Production at University but from that first gig onwards all of that has taken a back seat despite my best efforts during the final term. The transformation in my ambitions during such a short space of time is simply mind blowing. I’ve gone from wanting to be the that guy locked in a room tapping away (at a keyboard, and nothing else) to craving the spotlight and dreaming of fame and an 8/10 girlfriend.
Comedy Blogedy: How do you go about writing your material?
Liam Newman: To start with I had 22 years (shocking I know) of experience to call upon so selecting five minutes was a relatively easy task. Now, when it comes to new material I quite regularly try to shoehorn a new ‘story’ into conversation. My friends have recently cottoned on to this and will advise me never to tell it on stage, regardless of it’s comedic merits. One thing to gain from performing is that it opens your eyes. I now look at the world differently and am constantly on the search for material whether it be through first hand experience or from people watching/stalking. It also means that moments that previously would’ve been considered low points are now a cause for celebration. Twice now, dates have gone extremely bad and my only thought has been “that’s a piece of material sorted”.
Comedy Blogedy: Do you gig as a stand-up full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
Liam Newman: At this stage it is definitely a hobby, but one which I am extremely passionate about. As the editor of a new Mens Lifestyle magazine, the last couple of months have actually been very enjoyable and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of famous faces from the comedy circuit so if nothing else I am starting to understand the industry a lot better and learning a few rules along the way, the first two of which are to not talk about it. Bugger.
My aim is to do Edinburgh next summer and hopefully turn into a full time thing thereafter.
Comedy Blogedy: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the amateur comedy circuit?
Liam Newman: The only frustrating part of the amateur comedy circuit is that sometimes, especially when you are one of the final acts, you will be left performing to a room comprised exclusively by other acts. This makes it difficult to gauge a real reception of your material, however it is an essential part of the learning curve. Living outside of London means the late finishes can be a pain too.
As for the enjoyment factor, it is huge. It must be, or performers like myself simply wouldn’t do it. Comedy becomes an addiction and the longer you go without it, the more you think about your next hit.
Apart from the five minutes of fame, I love being able to open a conversation with “I’m a comedian” as it instantly makes you more exciting. As an opening gambit it does usually summon the predictable “tell us a joke” which can either go one way or the other, but nonetheless it’s a great thing to tell people and if they ask to see a video then suddenly all eyes are on you. It’s effing awesome.
Comedy Blogedy: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
Liam Newman: A male dominated audience tend to take better to my material than a female one. My act is clearly born from a male perspective and whilst the (choosing my words carefully) slightly older women seem to warm to me I often find that my material does not suit the younger female audience. I think that comes mainly from my lack of confidence and familiarity of being the focal figure of unified female attention. The only thing more intimidating than speaking to a group of young girls, particularly if they are attractive, is doing it on a one to one basis. However, with the young men I think there is more to relate to and they can either remember a time when something similar has happened to them; or thank their lucky stars that it hasn’t.
Comedy Blogedy: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started gigging? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
Liam Newman: I think when your act revolves around making fun of yourself it becomes difficult for any potential hecklers. If they make a joke or crude remark about you it doesn’t matter, the audience were already laughing (hopefully) at your expense. The only time there has been mass opportunity to heckle me was during my first ten minute set last month. I was ill prepared and nervous about performing in my home town of Southend for the first time. I died a worse death than Jesus, in the sense that mine actually happened. Fortunately the crowd were very lenient and just left me to it. As for my more comfortable five minute set, the first audible heckle I received (I’m almost certain there have been the odd slurred mumblings of a drunkard) was at the King Gong event and to be fair it did knock me back. Luckily I was able to recover and that same gig provided my favourite moment so far: at the thought of me in my boxers a woman physically gagged, that made my week!
Comedy Blogedy: What advice would you give to new acts thinking about starting out in comedy?
To borrow a couple of well known slogans – “Just do it”, What’s the worst that can happen?”. That feeling during, and for about a day following, a good gig cannot be matched anywhere and even when you have an off night at least you get to watch a group of other talented guys and girls perform for free and many of them will probably become friends (on Facebook if nothing else). It’s got to beat staying in and watching repeats of Peak Practice.