If NE1 Can, Andy D Chambers Certainly Can
Andy D Chambers may not ring too many bells as he only puckered up courage to take to the mic last year but he came under our radar when I discovered he was going to be hosting an upcoming gig with two other comedians we had previously interviewed, Patrick Monahan and Lee Ridley. If any of his fellow comedians’ praises are to go by, I’m sure Andy will be much more of a familiar face in the not so distant future:
“Nobody is supposed to be this good after just 3 gigs. Very funny comedian with bags of potential. Go see.’ (Dated November 2011) – Rob Collins, ”So you think you’re funny” finalist
”Funny guy with great stage presence, a natural at building rapport with the crowd” -Paul Brett, winner of Mr Ben’s Gong Show
Right now Andy runs his own ‘NE1 Comedy’ night up in Newcastle , which he compères once a month. He also likes to do his bit for charities whenever he gets the chance, also working in promotion, as a stand-up (MC and performer), and topping that all off with a bit of radio work to boot. He definitely has his work cut out for him, so, given his rather hectic agenda, we were chuffed that he could spare us a few moments of his time to talk about love, prostitutes, and mirrors. That got you intrigued right?
Read on at your peril!
How did you get into comedy? Was it a personal decision or did friends or family tell you that you should try it as they felt you had a knack for it?
People have always told me I’m funny. I probably agreed with them but back then I was a young student, and mostly drunk; so I chose to ignore a lot of that, or perhaps didn’t hear them. I’ve always felt like I can entertain people, and also offend people at the same time, but definitely make people pay attention. I did a short set at a variety night at Uni when I was hammered and I was told it went well, but I don’t even remember doing it. I flirted with the idea of trying comedy sober, and did a gig for The Grinning Idiot last year. It went really well for a first proper effort. The lads who were on the bill said they couldn’t believe it was my first real outing. That gave me an incentive to crack on with it.
How easy/difficult was it to get your first gigs? What resources did you find most helpful to give you a kickstart?
Comedy’s very much in vogue at the moment, and as a result there are a lot of open mic opportunities out there (probably too many), particularly in the North East. I started to put on my own nights, and people got in touch with me via facebook etc to ask for slots, and it’s very much reciprocal. You tend to do gigs for your friends and vice versa, and once you get to know a few people on the scene, you tend to get asked to do more gigs. It was tricky at first; you feel like you have to beg people for gigs. Once you do a few, it’s much easier. Nepotism lives deep within Comedy.
You claim to be a “miserable person from a horrible little town called North Shields, who went to a horrible school called John Spence.” This must make for some great comedy routines! And I’m not joking. Brits seem to have a gift of coming up with comedy gold based on the darkest of subjects.
It’s interesting that people find truly miserable stories funny. One of my favorite Comedians is Michael J Dolan, who personifies misery. Some nights you get on stage and tell people some of your worst, most degrading personal experiences, and they just laugh at you! Bit of a knock to the confidence really. It’s the comedy equivalent of going to a counselor and spilling your guts while they have a giggle to themselves and text their mates about you. Misery is a great inspiration for me. I write mainly in that style, but I only use true anecdotes. I don’t believe in making stories up for the sake of comedy. It’s much funnier when you actually believe what you’re saying.
Another period of your life saw you living with a prostitute. More great material there I’m sure. I assume you didn’t work on the side as a flesh-peddler, but were you her Richard Gere? What we all want to know really is how did you end up living with a prostitute and did it have its perks?
You assume wrongly friend. I lived in a house share. Someone moved out and she moved in. We figured it out after a couple of weeks; just little things we noticed like her spending a lot of time in her room, her always having a lot of money despite being on the dole, and the series of men who came to the door asking for ‘Poppy’ (not her real name). To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have minded, and potentially would have enjoyed the perks of shamelessly blackmailing her, but alas…it wasn’t to be. She was horrifically ugly, rather ‘generously proportioned’ (my Dad’s words when he visited) and she had serious mental problems, as well as severe substance addictions (the worst part was she wouldn’t share, the bitch). We used to joke about how much she charged for a ‘crushjob’. In the end the police came to the house, and one of the policemen was clearly trying very hard not to laugh when I came to the door with a grin on my face. It was great timing as well, as she was upstairs with one of her ‘boyfriends’ who was at least 40 years older than her. I imagine she was rather excited about the money she would make when I shouted to her that there were two men waiting downstairs for her, and her face was such a picture when I told her they were policemen.
I hope it wasn’t a one bedroom flat with a bunk-bed. How did you manage to sleep at night?
I was in the room downstairs just below hers, but I still slept soundly. With my headphones blaring full volume, listening to the sounds of whales…being harpooned by Japanese fishermen. Bliss.
So what about YOUR love life then? I imagine you haven’t had as many on/off relationships as your previous housemate but I believe you have found it difficult finding the right person.
Haha! Her relationships were far more beneficial than mine! She got all the sex, none of the commitment and a paycheck to boot. All she had to deal with was potential STD’s, an Ann Summers’ expense account and a depressingly low sense of self-worth.
Personally, I find myself a bit unlucky in love. A little like ‘fly boy’ in the original Dawn of the Dead. I find the right woman and then something goes wrong, but more in a metaphorical sense than being shot by a looter and then bitten by zombies and coming back as a zombie, before seeking out a loved one to eat.
I’m quite antisocial at times and tend to need time to myself, and women always take this to mean that I’m fed up of them. This is true, but it’s only so I have time to recharge and ignore everyone. I get like that. I’m hopelessly optimistic though. It’s doing wonders for my mental health.
You have your own comedy night called “NE1 Comedy”. What does this consist of? What are the comics like that have a go. Any particular attempts that went down really really badly?
NE1 Comedy is in the ‘NE1’ postcode but the idea also is that anyone (ne1) can perform. Clever eh?…ok maybe not. The lineup’s tend to consist of a professional comic headlining, often with professionals supporting them. The rest of the night is filled with great local acts, and I always keep a slot open for someone who has never performed before. So far I’ve had 5 or 6 people perform for the first time, and they all went down really well, particular one lad Lee (a mate of mine) who is the nephew of the great Scouser Comedian John Bishop.
I’ve had some great acts perform at NE1 in the 6 months that it’s been going including Gavin Webster, John Scott, Vladimir Mctavish, Steffen Peddie and Al Dawes. In June I have Patrick Monahan, Simon Donald, Abi Roberts and Lost Voice Guy on the lineup. My greatest set of bookings to date, and it’s bound to be a cracker!
I have read that you have great audience interaction. Is this not a risk for a comedian. Particularly as there are always hecklers in the house?
Who said that? Its news to me, the audiences tend to be full of people, and I can’t stand people! Haha just kidding…sort of. I MC a lot, and a lot of that is based on audience interaction. There’s always hecklers, but to be honest, I love being heckled. It’s annoying if you’re right in the middle of a routine, but you can get a big laugh/round of applause if you come back at hecklers with something that shuts them up. What people don’t mention very often is that audiences get just as annoyed with hecklers as the acts do, so they’re always pleased when someone puts them in their place. I saw Frankie Boyle a while ago, and he got heckled by some moron in the second row. I swear the guy was on the verge of tears (not with laughter) when Frankie was finished with him. That’s a risk hecklers take, but I do actually love bantering with people. It’s nice to be able to vent your resentments and frustrations on people rather than let them build up to the inevitable stroke/brain tumor/nervous breakdown.
You did actually study Psychology. I did too and whenever I tell anyone that, they either stop talking to me or say “bah, your crazier than your patients”. Would you agree with that statement? Also, do you find that having studied this helps you to read your audience so you know which people to interact with?
I used to hate telling people I study Psychology when I was at University. People would say things like ‘Can you tell what I’m thinking?’ and shit like that. I used to pray they were thinking about suicide.
To be honest, I don’t think it’s helped me a great deal with reading audiences. I’m quite a good judge of character and personality anyway, so I can normally tell how people will react to certain things once I’ve spoken to them. As you would probably agree, Psychology is a lot more Scientific than people think, and it often gets lumped in with similar pointless degrees like Sociology. I have noticed that most comedians aren’t normal, a lot of them (including myself) have some sort of personality defect or mental problems. It’s great, like a big social club for head cases.
As you’ve compered your own open mic show, you must have seen a lot of talent and a lot of cringeworthy stuff. Who would you like to see more of in the future?
Of course! You take the good and bad with a pinch of salt, mix a few more clichés into the mix, and you have yourself a comedy cocktail! There’s some great comedy talent around the North East. I’ve seen a lot of ‘Lost Voice Guy’ (Lee Ridley) recently, and SKY are currently doing a documentary about him. He’s a phenomenal talent who’s dealing with life altering disabilities and talks with a voice box. His act is superb, and he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. There’s some other great comics around the North East like Lee Kyle, Biscuitz (hip hop sensation), Ben Messenger and Jerry Buckham (real name Rob Gilroy) and Nicola Redman. These are just a few of my favorites. Remember what I said about nepotism and comedy? I also had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Monahan a few months ago, he’s the nicest guy on the planet, and destined to be the biggest name in Comedy. I’m so excited to be working with him.
In terms of cringeworthy stuff…I wouldn’t like to name names, but safe to say there are a few people on the scene who I don’t think are funny and have gone down very badly. But everyone will have an audience to suit them, and it takes a tremendous amount of bravery to actually get up there and do it, so I cant really bitch about them. Not on a public website anyway.
A few quick fire questions:
I hear you are a massive zombie fan. Dawn of the Dead or Shaun of the Dead?
My god, it’s like Sophie’s choice. I’d have to go with Dawn. For one reason, Peter actually shot his best friend when he came back as a Zombie. Shaun left his in the cellar of a pub.
What is your favourite zombie movie of all time?
Day of the Dead (1985). Easily the most underrated out of the original trilogy, but a classic.
And the worst one?
The remake of Dawn. Running zombies? How ridiculous.
I believe you are also a bit of an indie music fan? Which group do you think we should have as our band of the week?
Hmmm…..Twin Atlantic. They’re a great Scottish band who I predict will outdo Biffy Clyro.
What song(s) are on your ipod at at the moment?
Twin Atlantic (Make a Beast of Myself), The Darkness (One Way Ticket) and Staind (Everything Changes) were the last 3 songs I listened to.
What was the last book you read?
Stevie Tyler’s autobiography. Awesome read. Currently reading Stephen King’s ‘Cell’
What has been the worst experience as a stand-up?
I once did a gig in Catterick where the PA system was only loud enough to reach 30 out of the 130 people there. That could have ended much more violently than it did.
Do you still have any fears you had as a child?
What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people leave food all over the house. That’s how you get ants.
So what have you got lined up for the immediate future?
Got some gigs coming up, and I’m organizing some more; a new venture with a pal of mine called ‘Taking the Mic’. Other than that, the main thing is the NE1 Comedy Gig on 11th June with Patrick Monahan, Simon Donald, Abi Roberts, Lost Voice Guy and Ben Messenger; which I will be MCing. For all the details check out http://www.facebook.com/events/354178667964375/
Should you happen to be in the vicinityof Hoochie Coochie,Pilgrim Street in Newcastle on the second Monday of any month you’d be doing yourselves a big favour making way over there to check out the NE1 Comedy Nights. Entry is only 3 pounds per head and absolutely free of charge for anyone daring to to perform a minimum 5 minute set.
I’ll leave you with a short message from Andy. I’d just like to thank him for this video as it has just dawned on me what Michael Jackson’s hit “Man In The Mirror” was actually all about, and why he always wore one white glove all the time…