Joe Lycett - There's Nothing Like Stand-Up
Joe Lycett has basically rocketed to success in next to no time. In 2009 he was crowned Chortle Student Comedian of the year, swiftly ensued by a runners-up position in the 2009 Laughing Horse New Act of the Year, and finalist in the revived BBC New Comedy Awards last year. Despite being a “newcomer” he has already amassed many a TV show appearance on the likes of 8 Out of 10 Cats, Epic Win and, most recently, Celebrity Juice and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. His debut stand-up show Some Lycett Hot was nominated for the Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards this year and he has a full diary of dates to take him right through to Christmas. We managed to pull him away from his tight schedule for a quick chat.
You first appeared in BBC One’s Epic Win when you were still pretty much a non-household name. That must have been quite daunting. Was being on the telly all you expected it to be?
It was bonkers! I didn’t really have time to appreciate it all until afterwards. The amount of people at the BBC that must have approved me to be on the show is staggering considering no-one had any idea who I was at the time. It was sort of how I expected it to be and not at the same time. I am still staggered at how quickly it is all done a lot of the time so you only have a short amount of time to prepare for a lot of things before they’re filming and then broadcast to millions of people. But it’s a lot of fun.
You said that you weren’t entirely sure about accepting this offer as it wasn’t really your target audience. What was it that made you go for it in the end?
The fear was that the people watching a show on BBC One on Saturday afternoon are not the same people that would normally watch stand-up, as it’s a lot of children and families. My worry was that they may see me on that and come to the stand-up and be surprised and disappointed at the swearing and rude topics. However, I realised that a lot of people have that problem – most people on telly will probably be a bit less blue than their normal act, just because of the very nature of television. Plus it was a big job and it’s hard to turn something like that down!
Sure, and in retrospect it’s definitely done you a lot of favours. A lot of comedians refuse to do TV as they despise the idea of being told what is allowed and what is not. Do you feel you’ve been excessively censored when on the telly?
I think the idea of doing television to some comics is hideous and terrifying because you naturally relinquish some control. But the reality is that may not be a bad thing. Unlike stand-up, if you say something and it doesn’t get a laugh the editor will cut it out. Similarly, there may be something you said that you think is brilliant and they won’t cut it in. For me, I feel I’ve been lucky with some edits and unlucky with others – that’s the name of the game. But I find television exciting and so I enjoy it. But there’s nothing like stand-up.
You’ve recently appeared on Celebrity Juice. What were your hopes and fears about that?
Doing Celebrity Juice was really exciting because I love the show and Keith Lemon. I was surprised at how much fun it was to record and how lovely everyone was on the show. Speaking of editing, I feel the editor on there was very kind to me, so it’s swings and roundabouts!
Turning to the live circuit, you’ve recently finished your first one hour Edinburgh Fringe show, Some Lycett Hot. How did it compare to previous years, now having your own solo-run?
It was a lot more intense and I had to be careful not to drink so I remained focused. But once I got into the swing of it, it was so wonderful. It’s a privilege to perform there and I had such delightful audiences. I had the time of my life!
What about other acts there. Who did you enjoy?
Susan Calman’s show was a triumph – a wonderful hour of stand-up from a wonderful lady. And of course Pappy’s show was a joy to behold. There are too many shows to mention but I was lucky this year in that I didn’t see a duff show!
Being bisexual yourself, you talk about homophobia in your show and find it ridiculous that such a thing still exists nowadays. What would you say still feeds this “what should be stone age” attitude?
I think there will always be nincompoops about and to be honest if there weren’t I would have a hard time writing stand up. I think we’re making great strides as a community in being more understanding about lots of things and we’ve advanced far in the last century but the key is recognising that there is a lot more to be done before we eradicate, as much as possible, idiotic and hurtful ideas.
Recently I spoke to Britain’s Got Talent‘s Edward Reid and he chatted about his experiences as a gay performer. He said that he never really experienced homophobic problems during his shows and in fact a lot of the men who shouted abuse at him were in the audience with their wives who quickly hit them over the head with their handbags. Have you experienced any homophobic provocation that has made you think twice about performing?
I’ve had a bit of it and I always try to engage with them in as personable a way as possible. Even though I profoundly disagree with their views they are still people and I feel showing people like that compassion and engaging in debate is a healthier approach than trying to humiliate them. It’s not something that worries me though, so that’s a good sign.
Bisexuals are often tagged with words like “indecisive” or “greedy”. What would you say to this?
I have written some comedy about this so I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. It’s pretty funny if I say so myself.
Every comedian, no matter how famous they are, always has great gigs and terrible ones. How do you pick yourself up from the train wrecks and rein yourself in from the one’s that go really well?
Millican’s Law, as devised by Sarah Millican herself: Regardless of how the gig has gone, you forget about it by 11am the next day. You are not allowed to congratulate or berate yourself after that time. It’s remarkably effective.
As I said, you’ve recently been on Celebrity Juice but have you got anything in store for us on the gogglebox in the near future?
I recorded an episode of Jack Dee’s new show Don’t Sit In The Front Row which will be on Sky Atlantic in December. It was really good fun and it’s a great, loose format so it should be a good one. And I just appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks last night with Nick Grimshaw, Fred Macpherson, Conor Maynart and Nancy Dell’Olio. That’s enough for me to be getting on with for now!
Yeah, this morning everyone on Twitter was saying how brilliant the show was last night.
Back to your touring. After the extensive month of August in Edinburgh how do you shake things up to get yourself back on the road to do gigs again?
My first love is gigging so it has been really lovely going back to the clubs and doing 20 minute sets again round the country. It feels oddly easier now I’ve done a full hour show. So that’s keeping me fresh – the hard work really starts when I get back into writing, which is starting imminently as I’ve set myself the task of writing 30 minutes of new stand-up by Christmas. Here goes nothing!
Joe will be touring around the UK until Christmas and you can get hold of you tickets here.
The BBC Comedy Awards are in full swing at the moment with the Wildcard voting completed yesterday. The orgnisers will reveal the Wildcard winner on Friday. In the meantime, pop on over to the site to find out further details.