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Dan, a former undertaker, found himself lured to the comedy circuit when he realised how gratifying it felt getting laughs at the local pub quiz he ran. He set about his comedy quest in 2005 organising a regular stand-up night, which he compered, at Cardiff’s Pen and Wig pub.
Dan delves into quite an assortment of topics, ranging from epilepsy (which he was diagnosed with at the age of 17), encounters with the opposite sex and evil caterpillars. Most recently he came second on ITV’s “Show Me The Funny” hot on the heels of Patrick Monahan. Most of you will probably be aware of him when he won the ”Best Epileptic Comedian from West Wales called Dan” award at the 2004 Wales comedy awards.
Dan has garnered a great deal of attention and has been giging all over the shop. He’s definitely come one heck of a long way since his humble beginnings where he was booed off stage at a strip joint.
He can currently be heard over the airwaves as he is now the presenter of BBC Radio Wales comedy news quiz, What’s the Story?
We were only too happy when he agreed to have a natter with PPSF…. He even showed off some of his Batskills….
I hear you started out hosting a local Pub quiz and your stand up gradually migrated from there. How did the transgression come about?
The pub quizzes I used to run were a bit different to normal quizzes. I did club singing rounds (ala Vic & Bob) and little sketches and characters which I used as observation rounds. I ended up enjoying doing that more than the actual quiz itself. One of the characters I created there was made into a comedy play, which sold out (partly because I put “Free peanuts” on the poster). That said, I still have tonnes of quizbooks and my mind is full of useless information. Do you know how many penises a cockroach has? I do.
OK so recently you have been fighting it out against “hello” magazine with your “Alright” publication. I hope that’s going well. I believe your “What`s the Story” slot on BBC Radio Wales hit the airwaves just last week. How has this experience been for you? Do you prefer a more vis-a vis approach or have you taken to the radio studio like a duck to water?
I better explain what What’s the Story? is first. It’s a great comedy news quiz run by Tidy productions (which is run by Ruth Jones) and it’s been going for a while, with increasing success. I’ve been a regular panellist for ages and was so chuffed when they asked me to take over the big chair as presenter. NOW I HAVE POWER! BWAHAHAHAHA! *ahem* The first thing I’ve done is turned it into a much chattier show which plays more to my strengths. I even get the audience involved, so it’s like running a pub quiz all over again! But with less beer, unfortunately.
At least on the radio you don’t have to deal directly with hecklers. A little birdy tells me that he remembers the first time you died on stage very well. According to him you were doing a gig at a strange pub down the bay that was like a sports bar. Ring a bell? Your brother was there with another friend and they had to sit through your set whilst no one was laughing or making any sounds. Once it was all over you sat down and said to your brother and friends “that didn’t go well”. On “Show me the Funny” you had a bit of a run in, pretty much straight off the bat, in you home country of Wales. Your comeback didn’t go down all too well with the musclebound rugby lads. What did the series teach about dealing with hecklers comments? How do you keep yourself thick-skinned so that the hecklers don’t affect you enough to make you decide to throw in the towel?
Trying to remember every gig I’ve done is like trying to remember every meal I’ve ever eaten, and I have eaten loads. Some are effortlessly delicious and some are rancid platefuls of crap that you wouldn’t feed to your dog.
What I’m saying is, that I don’t remember the specific gig, but I know what it’s like to die on stage. It’s horrible and you feel worthless. As you gig more you learn how to tell when it was your fault and when it was out of your hands.
Sometimes hecklers can put you off your stride, but normally, they aren’t too much of a problem. I can usually deal with them pretty well. They want attention, you give them a bit, have a bit of a chat and treat it as a laugh. If they persist, you show them they aren’t as funny as they think they are.
The main problem with the gig on SMTF was that I didn’t have time to humour them and went in too hard, too fast. It threw me and I didn’t have enough time to pull it back. That said, I did get some laughs after that but they didn’t make the show. The joys of selective editing 😉
So far what has been the worst and best heckles you have received and what are some of the best things you have been able to come back with?
Most heckles are rubbish and unimaginative. So I can’t tell you any good ones. As for responses, I’m usually quite good. I remember my response to the classic “you’re shit!” heckle. I pretended to be thrown by it, and said “you’re right. I should go home now, start writing better jokes, practise day and night and come back when I’m really good. Unfortunately nothing could help you, as you’re always going to be a prick, now shut up!” That worked for a while but when he chipped in again, I got the 300 strong audience to shout “Shut the fuck up” in unison. And that is a joyous sound.
Some comedians like fellow “specs offender” Frankie Boyle tend to rely heavily on extracting the Michael out of the audience. I do appreciate his comedy but would you not agree that this style can go a bit too far and and could even be an excuse to not having to write a full hour and a half stand up material?
Frankie Boyle can be great. His confrontational style is brilliant to watch, giving his performance an element of danger that you may not get with other acts. And at his best, he is hilarious. The problem with ‘pushing boundaries’ is that sometimes you get the feeling that some comedians are just concentrating on being controversial instead of actually being funny. That’s when it gets tiresome and you might as well be listening to an aggressive drunk.
Talking of the “specs offender” joke. You also openly discuss are an epileptic and that people started calling you shake’n’vac and eventually “specileptic”. Were people so cruel to you or do you exaggerate a tad as I have heard you say that you like to to deal with “tormented souls” in your material.
While most of my material about epilepsy is honest, I’ve never been picked on because of it. I was 5 foot 6 at the age of 12 so noone would pick on me. I find that most people just don’t understand epilepsy and feel a bit uncomfortable about laughing at epilepsy at first, but I soon show them that it’s okay. I am often asked about it and have given talks for Epilepsy charities.
I do enjoy the morose tortured soul elements that I use in my comedy and they definitely exaggerate my miserable side, though I’m generally quite upbeat.
Being an epileptic seems to provide you with some dark yet hilarious material, but, surely your condition must also hinder your profession. What kind of stumbling blocks does it pose for you as a comedían?
Being an epileptic is a pain in the arse. The main problem for me is that I cannot drive, which is nigh on essential for comics, and probably never will do. I can’t do really long hours, or really early mornings or I may have a fit. That said, it does give me some brilliant thoughts which I may or may not have had if I didnt have epilepsy. So I accept my “dark passenger” and make the most of it. It’s not all bad being a pavement raver 😉
I hear you have recently made possibly one of the biggest moves in your career: the purchase of a Playstation. What was the first game you bought with your spanking brand new console?
I’ve always been a computer game fan, every since I had my first ZX Spectrum (which was 30 last week). I worked my way through the NES, SNES, Playstation, Playstation 2 and now, finally, the Playstation 3.
And I couldn’t be happier. I bloody love it. As a comedian, you have to be pretty self motivated, and I wasn’t getting as much done as I should. So I decided to get a PS3 as an incentive.
For every hour of writing I do, I get an hour of PS3. If I go to the gym for an hour, I get an hour of PS3. In three weeks I had written a brand new set and had lost 20lbs. Most importantly, though, I had beaten Batman:Arkham Asylum, the first game I bought.
I’m a massive comic book geek and Batman is the ultimate hero. A lot of comic book games are crap, but AA is brilliant. The fighting style is so intuitive, that you feel you are as skilled as Batman just by pressing a few buttons. It’s a joy to sneak up behind a criminal and take them out silently or swoop down from a gargoyle and leave them dangling 20 foot in the air. The detective mode adds a whole new element too, showing the intelligent side of the character. And there are so many geeky references throughout that makes a comic book nerd like me squeee!
I like putting our guest comedians on the spot with some out of the blue gaming questions.
This week I want you to take a look at the following game screenshots and come up with your funniest caption/short story.
A few quick shot questions:
Favourite Movie(s): Dead Mans shoes. It’s dark, humourous and brilliant.
What are you reading at the moment: The sixth Game of Thrones book. It’s absolutely fantastic, but a very hefty tome
What song(s) are you listening to at the moment: since writing this-”Alive by Goldfrapp, Captain Jack Sparrow by Lonely Island and The Only Living boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel
What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen: Dungeons and Dragons. PISS POOR
Favourite Videogame: Batman:Arkham City
Worst Videogame: Superman on Nintendo 64. Absolute tosh, bad on EVERY level
Worst Movie based on a videogame: Super Mario Bros. Koopa is NOT A MAN. Full stop
Which rising comedian(s) would you like to see more of in the future?
Brian Gittins. He is amazingly, beautifully, confusingly hilarious
Ok, so you are currently hard at work with you brand new radio DJ spot but what other projects have you got in the pipeline? A stand-up tour, TV show?
Ha! I’m not a DJ. I’m a presenter. There are no records, just jokes and banter. Apart from that I’m really busy gigging all over and getting my first Edinburgh show ready for August. It’s called Free Egg and is going to be awesome. Believe. And as for other TV etc. Watch this space.
When comedian Dan Mitchell is ill (proper ill, mind), nothing is right. The bed is too lumpy, the duvet is too hot and there’s a seagull outside his window paying mind games. He wants nothing more than to lie back watching squirrel movies, getting his brow mopped. But Dan’s internet is down and his brow remains unmopped, meaning he only has his imagination to entertain himself. Join Dan as his mind swiftly unravels in a comedy tale of sickness, paranoia, fate and above all, Free Egg.
Also, please check out our other comedian interviews and general funny stuff over here.
Calling all comedians. If you fancy a bit of a chat with PPSF please contact us. We are also looking for guest comedian bloggers to review movies, music and video games to spicen things up a bit. Should anyone be interested please contact us at email@example.com
Dont’ forget to like us over on facebook if you liked this. Loads more in store…..
P.S: Thought you might like to check out this Portal 2 Beyonce mash up video:
As a final note, Karl Pilkington was integrated into Skyrim via a mod but it had to be taken down unfortunately but you can see it here: Who would you like to see added to Skyrim? Let us know.
Also, please check out our other comedian interviews and general funny stuff over here.
What do you get if you cross an Irishman and an Iranian woman? Sounds like I’m about to crack a one liner right?
Well, you’d be on the right track, as the answer is funny man, Patrick Monahan.
He definitely managed to captivate British audiences when he showed us his funny last year on ITV’s “Show Me The Funny” and since then things have just catapulted and he’s never looking back. After bagging a handsome sum of 100 thousand pounds and getting his own stand-up DVD there’s been no stopping him.
He has made appearances on pretty much every channel you could care to think of ranging from the BBC to Sky and UKTV, as a presenter, guest interviewee, panel member and performer.
“The Scotsman” has proclaimed him as “One of the smartest comics on the Fringe” and “Metro Magazine” warned its readers “You might just want to smuggle him out under your coat…instantly loveable, wonderfully unique”.
I was lucky enough to smuggle him under my woolly jumper, as Patrick benevolently offered me a chat to find out what he was up to, and, given that this is primarily a gaming site, to bring out the secret gaming junkie inside of him.
PPSF- Before you got through to “Show Me the Funny” you were a warm-up man. Were you in any other line of work before that? Any “unusual” jobs or anecdotes you’d like to share with us?
Patrick – I was lucky that I started stand up at an early-ish age of 24 year, which back then was young, but, nowadays stand ups are starting at the age of 7 years old!
I did the usual jobs up North. As a teenager, while at college, I worked in the local supermarket. It was great fun working on the tills then occasionally getting to work the kiosk and doing shout outs on the store microphone. The shout outs where mainly to say that the frozen chickens were reduced but it was still all microphone experience!
Then, doing warm up was crazy fun! You get to meet so many fun but mental people, not just in the audience but those who work on the shows – nothing that I can repeat in print or I would probably be sued!
PPSF- I have read a lot of websites and magazines calling “Show Me The Funny” an “X-Factor” for comics. Do you think people should really be comparing you to the likes of Susan Boyle? What do you think Mr. Simon Cowell would have to say about you?
Patrick – Haha. I defo think people should compare me to Susan Boyle. If we stand next to each other, you wouldn’t be able to put a piece of paper between us. We’re so alike. Once, I was at Madame Tussauds, stood next to a wax work model of her and Japanese tourists where taking pictures of me!
I’d love to meet Simon Cowell but don’t think he’d be too bothered to meet me. His only advice to me would be to give up the singing! Which is great advice cos I can’t sing!
PPSF- I’ve read that you are a fan of comics like Peter Kay and Lee Evans. What or who would you say has played the most important role in you turning your hand to comedy?
Patrick – I think like every stand up comic out there (or in fact anyone working in their job). You’ve got to have a passion for what you’re doing or we’d never get out of bed in the morning! You watch people like Lee Evans and Peter Kaye, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams and you can see they deliver every word and routine with such passion fun and excitement that they’re bouncing about the stage like a nuclear warhead about to go off!
This is the sort of passion you need to succeed in any job!
PPSF- What do you make of the so-called “alternative” comedians like Renton Skinner’s alter-ego “Angelos Epithimiou” for example?
Patrick – I love all styles of comedy and I think that’s why the British comedy circuit is so good because our comedy audiences are so big and wide and we have just as wide a variety of comedy! Even though my style of comedy is pretty main stream and standard, I still love to watch other types of comedy. People like ‘Angelos’ are what makes our circuit so unique and great compared to anywhere else! He’s also a lovely fella. I’ve gigged with him a couple of times and he won’t let you look into his carrier bag!
PPSF– For you what is the most difficult part of the writing process? “Show Me The Funny” gave us a glimpse of how difficult it is to make all different walks of life laugh? How do you tackle this (apart from spitting water on them all)?
Patrick – The problem, or great thing, about comedy is that everyone has a sense of humour but everyone’s humour is different, so when writing stand up comedy for the general public it is always going to be tricky because some people will love it and some people will hate it! Its always the ones who hate it who are more vocal than the ones who love it. I’ve never seen a comedian being heckled with “that’s joke brilliant mate” but an audience member will not hold back from telling a comedian that ‘joke or routine’ was shite!
I was never academically any good at school. I never read any books or did much writing at school but since doing stand up you soon learn that if you don’t write, you risk getting into trouble so now I always write. It never gets easier but it is fun and it’s an amazing experience when you’ve just written a routine that day of something that you’ve observed and drop that routine into your show in front of a few hundred people that night and they laugh at it. You’re buzzing afterwards! It’s like taking legal drugs!
PPSF– I would have loved to have been a comic but there is just no way I could get up and speak for an hour/hour and a half on my own in front of a packed out theatre. You must surely get nervous before a gig. How do you deal with those nerves?
Patrick – I don’t think anyone would ever be a stand up if you knew you had to stand up in front of 100’s of people in a theatre and talk for an hour or two. Me, like anyone else would run a mile if you told us that before we started doing stand up comedy! Growing up I just always loved talking and always wanted to do a job where I’d get paid for talking. I never knew what stand up comedy was when I grew up as a kid. I just stumbled into it. I could never remember a joke in my life but I could always retell something that happened to me that day or recently to my mates and make them laugh or happy (I sound like a dodgy therapist)! I suppose that’s what helps my nerves before a gig. I always get excited on the way to a show. I get nervous about 30 seconds before I am about to go on stage but I always calm the nerves by thinking to myself that I’m just going out to have a chat with a room full of friends, even if it’s a theatre full of 400 people!
PPSF– I just found a youtube video of you dancing to Rihanna for Sport Relief. That must have been great fun. How did you get involved in that? Was it your idea to get all dolled up like that?
Patrick – Haha as if any bloke in the right mind would ever agree to dress up as Rihanna and do it on prime time TV on Saturday night! I did it with a gun held to my head , but once they stuck on the wig and fake nails I told them to put the gun down I’m ready to shake my booty baby!
I was always up for doing something for sports relief. I probably would have done something like Freddie Mercury or “C & C music factory’ if it was totally up to me, but I loved doing Rihanna. It was a great laugh and an experience I won’t forget, especially at night when I’m trying to sleep!
PPSF– Speaking of youtube. Do you think the internet is a good platform for budding comics?
Patrick – Yep defo. As a comedian you’d be bonkers not to use it. Our job is speaking to an audience every day of our working lives and the internet and youtube is the easiest way of doing this. That’s why I’m doing regular blogs. In fact here’s a link to my first ever and second ever live vlogs below:
PPSF– OK. Seeing as this is a video game site I’m going to have to ask you a few game related questions. A little bird tells me that you have never had a console in your house. If that’s so then what did you used to play with as a boy (if you’ll pardon the pun)?
Patrick – Haha. We never had any games in our house but it didn’t mean that we played with ourselves to deat,h which I guess the question is suggesting! Back in the old days (I make it sound like it was so long ago, which to be honest it feels like. Especially now when everyone’s got an Ipad3)! Most kids growing up where I lived never owned a computer or games console. Instead, we used to play footie outside in the street or nearest park! However, we did used to play on the arcades anytime we were near the beach.Luckily, for the first 10 years of growing up, I lived in a seaside town in north east of England that had loads of arcades back in the heyday when British people used to holiday in Britain, before cheap flights made us go abroad to get drunk and sunbathe!
PPSF– And you were a sucker for the arcades I hear. What kind of games would you spend your ten pence pieces on back then?
Patrick – All sorts of shoot ‘em up game. We used to love the ones that had the plastic guns, although one time I remember a crazy bloke brought in a real gun. It made shooting the arcade screens a little bit more fun but gave it a real sense of danger!
Also, I used to love playing Fifa and Street Fighter – games that if I tapped the button fast enough I felt like I had learnt valuable street skills that would help me even in a fight!
PPSF– What about games nowadays? Do you think it’s going in the right direction or is it getting all a bit too violent and out of hand?
Patrick – Without sounding too serious, I think people need to realise when they’re playing a game and when they’re actually out in the high street shooting people up with a 12 bore shoot gun thinking its Grand Theft Auto!
I’m not a violent person and I’m not a person who would ever tell people how to live your life’s. If you like meditating in a field then that’s your thing. If you like shooting a TV screen with a console for 6-7hours a day and that’s how you relax then that’s cool as well! I relax by eating as many cakes as I can stick in me face!
I don’t think computer games really do influence the way people behave in real life, I grew up in an era when we all played ‘pacman’ but I’ve never once been attacked in a supermarket by a giant round ball or chased down a long corridor!
PPSF– If you were able to design your very own game what do you think you would go for?
Patrick – A game where you are laying on a big comfy sofa, with your mouth wide open and on the other side of the screen is a baker with freshly made cup cakes. The aim of the game is to throw them across the room with them landing in your mouth. The more cup cakes you get in the mouth the more points you get. It’s a genius idea. I don’t know how I come up with them!
PPSF– Okay, so now let’s delve into what you are up to right now. All I know is that you’re the man to know when it comes to “hugging and spooning”. Would you care to enlighten us on that? It’s got me more than intrigued.
Patrick – Comics can be defined by their material and their presence on stage. Some comics are dead pan and one liners. Others are storytellers! My style is that I do routines and stories but hug the audience at the same time. When I come onto stage I hug them. When I’m on stage I’m still touching people in the front row! Sometimes at the end of a show I may spoon someone, depending on how friendly the audience is (and touch wood) most of my audiences so far have been very friendly!
PPSF– What have you got in store for the future? Any plans for another DVD soon or will we have to wait a while for that? I’ve heard that you were preparing a game show and a sitcom. Are these projects still on the cards?
Patrick – Yep. Still promoting my current DVD which was filmed and released just before Xmas and is on Amazon now at a ridiculously great price (shameless plug)! I’m also currently working on writing a game show which I do live sometimes at the 99 club in Leicester Square in London once a month on a Monday night, which involves stand up and dating!
PPSF– And now a few rapid fire questions:
Favourite Movie: Amelia or Mystic River or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Favourite book: ‘I know why the caged birds sing’ by Maya Angelou
Worst Movie: I’ve been lucky not to sit in front of one yet but I’ll keep you posted!
Favourite Band: Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores
Worst Band: Too many to try and think of. I’ve blocked them from my memory!
Favourite Videogame: Street Fighter & Fifa
Which rising new stand-ups would you like to see more of in the future?
Patrick – Loads. There are so many good young stand ups out there. They all need support!
PPSF– Right. I’m going to put you on the spot now. Can you come up with a great video game related gag?
Patrick – My nephews all have the latest video games and consoles and electronic gadgets to play with on the bus on their way to school! They are so lucky. When we were kids the richest kid on our bus had a 12 inch shatterproof ruler. The bus journeys we had slapping people with a shatterproof ruler. It was amazing. The ruler never broke but their faces just shattered!
PPSF– As final food for thought, what tips would you give wannabe stand-ups?
Patrick – Write, write, write, edit, write some more, then edit, then practise and go to as many open mic spots as you can book in a 6 month period and keep doing it and don’t give up. Only you can decide whether you want to stand up in front of an audience and make them laugh. No one else can do that for you!
If this wasn’t enough for you, then pop on over to Patrick’s website at http://www.patrickmonahan.co.uk
He’s also a regular at the 99 Club so be sure to check him out on their site for upcoming gigs.
You can also follow Patrick on twitter: @patrickjmonahan
Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/PatMonahancomedy
Pictures from the vlog on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrickjmonahan
Patrick is currently hugging and spooning on the final stint of his 2012 tour. You’ve still got a chance to see him at the following venues so get your tickets before it’s too late…
05/04/2012 Tunbridge Wells Trinity Theatre 01892 678 678
06/04/2012 Exmouth Pavillion 01395 222 477
12/04/2012 Maidenhead Norden Farm 01628 788 997
14/04/2012 Bordon Phoenix Theatre 01420 472 664
15/04/2012 Southbank London Underbelly 08445 458 282
20/04/2012 Andover The Lights 01264 368 368
21/04/2012 Runcorn The Brindley Studio 0151 907 8360
25/04/2012 Wellingborough The Castle 01933 270 007
26/04/2012 Barnstaple Studio at Queens Theatre 01271 324 242
27/04/2012 Aylesbury Limelight Studio 01296 424 332
28/04/2012 Wells-next-the-sea The Granary Theatre 01328 710 193
29/04/2012 Nottingham Just the Tonic 0115 910 0009