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interview - Page 9 of 9

Matt Roper: The Wonderful World of Wilfredo

July 24, 2012 |

Matt Roper, is a writer, comedian and songwriter, having performed in several satirical sketch shows. He cut his teeth in Newsrevue before moving on to co-write and perform A Touch of Roberts and Roper, and appearing in Pippa Evan’s Old Time New Time Music Hall, Twisted Christmas, Nice Mischief to name just a few. He has perfroemd a number of straight stand-up sets over the years, with a myriad of appearances at comedy clubs and music festivals alike, including Glastonbury no less. Recent radio credits include What’s So Funny? and The Comedy Club for BBC radio Four Extra.

Most recently, Matt has been reaching new heights with the creation of his stage character, Wilfredo, who is described as “a grotesque satire of a Mediterranean romantic signer”. The character is everything but charming; frequently salivating onstage, drinking and smoking his way throughout songs, all the while berating his musicians and audience members with insults and expletives. In theory this sounds just wrong, but, in practise, his grotesque charms and flirtatious manner have earned him something of a cult status on the music festival scene and among comedy audiences nationwide.

This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will see Matt performing as his comic alter ego in The Wonderful World of Wilfredo so we were delighted when agreed to answer our Edinburgh Festival Fringe questions:

Describe your Edinburgh show in three adjectives and explain why.

Musical. It’s all about the music really, and as Wilfredo will be telling you this year in song: he always turns to music, and that’s how he gets by. Grotesque, because Wilfredo’s character, shape, facial expressions and his manners are unnatural, freakish and utterly absurd. He’s such a clown, though he doesn’t even realise it. Infectious because Wilfredo truly believes in the power of himself. His self-confidence is such that his own belief in himself as the greatest entertainer on earth actually resonates among the audience. It’s the dogged self-assurance that people find infectious. Arrogant, yes, but it’s undercut by a charm. I was really, really very pleased with one or two of the reviews from last year’s show where they said they’d left the show truly happy. What more could I ask for than that?

What is so special about performing at the Fringe?

God knows. It’s both an exhilarating and an exasperating experience. The energy of thousands of performers descending on that beautiful city for three weeks really makes you feel you’re part of something truly awesome. Some nights we play to capacity audiences who shower us in laughs, applause and collective approval. On others we play to three Scandinavians and a dog, and silence.

What has been your best moment there?

Last year was my first Fringe, so it was all pretty special. A massive learning curve. Probably my best moment was feeling endorsed on the first night by the paying punters. When it’s all shaped up and it’s all come to plan. It was Mervyn Stutter’s 20th year on the Fringe last year and he held a big fundraising gig at the Pleasance Grand and Wilfredo got to introduce him onstage. An honour. Let it be said.

What was your worst experience there?

Oh, most likely just the wall that all of us hit at some point. The Fringe is a fucking marathon. I have a mate called Fatty. We call each other Fatty actually. She e-mailed me and I confessed I’d hit a wall and she said to me “It’s OK Fatty. Just climb over it.” Wise words, indeed. Climb over it!

Have your preview shows gone to plan?

Still a few more to do on the way up there. It’s a proper road trip of Totnes, Manchester, Lancaster, and then the Fringe. Rock and Roll, you see, in every way.

Have you had to change much of the material since your preview shows?

Not too much, but you know with this sort of act a lot of it happens and evolves onstage. It’s interactive, and it’ll probably evolve during the Edinburgh season itself. It’s not straight stand-up. It’s very much a set of self-penned songs and poems and anecdotes from a singer. Vegas styley. In his head, anyway.

What will be the first thing you do when you get to Edinburgh?

There’s me, my producer, and a musician. We’ll get there in the VW Passat I just bought, which I discovered today leaks water, at a ferocious speed, into the footwell when it rains. They won’t realise the truth of it until they read this, but we’ll be jugging out the water when we get there and trying to find a sheltered place to park the fucking thing. Then we shall each bagsy rooms and eat like kings before getting down to work.

Which acts will you be catching there?

I’m very much looking forward to seeing a show by Milo McCabe. It’s called Kenny Moon, This Is Your Life. He’s actually got his Dad in it, who’s an old-school comic. Mine was too. In fact they probably knew each other. He blogged an article about it, about rehearsing with his Dad and it literally had me crying tears of laughter as I could relate to it so much, the differences between the two attitudes to comedy and the frustration from both sides. Abi Roberts isn’t doing a solo show this year but she’s on fire right now. I’ve known her for almost fifteen years since we met doing sketch shows, and she’s doing spots around the festival. She’s outrageous really. Trodd en Bratt are on the Free Fringe this year, a fab double act who are inventive and funny and I like them very much and that is all. My producer is a diamond and has just bought us tickets to see Mark Thomas interviewing Tony Benn. Tony Benn. Just to write his name makes me feel good.

What is the first thing you will do as soon as the festival is over?

I shall get my little bottom down to Devon for a week, to be with old friends, and to go for a long walk on Dartmoor. Then to book a flight to India where, hopefully, I’ll spend Christmas this year. It is a land I shall be in love with forever more.

Why should people go and see your show?

Because as far as character comedy goes, there is no more a loving creature on the Fringe than the magnificent Wilfredo. He will charm you. He will romance you, and finally, he’ll seduce you. Boys, come see, come learn, come sigh.

You can cath The Wonderful World of Wilfredo at Just the Tonic at the Tron (Venue 51) at 10:20 pm from the 2nd until the 26th of August (Except the 14th).

All details of the show can be found here.

Interview: Stuart Goldsmith. More Than Meets The “I”

May 29, 2012 | 1

It’s hard knowing where to start when it comes to Stuart Goldsmith. He’s a Jack of all trades. His skills range from comedian, compere, warm-up artist and actor, having worked clubs in all corners of the UK. A former street-performer (Scottish National Busking Champion and placed third in the World Busking Championships 2008), he did his first street-show at the tender age of sixteen, having learned to fire-breathe, fire juggle and walk on broken glass. More ‘safety first’ skills include hammering a nail into his nose, eating glass and juggling chainsaws.  He’s even been spotted stripped down to his underwear or walking a tightrope on the streets of Edinburgh.

As a stand-up, his 2010 Edinburgh show “Stuart Goldsmith: The Reasonable Man” received positive reviews, as did his follow-up 2011 tour “Another Lovely Crisis”. Most people will remember him as the “ever so nice guy” on ITV’s show me the funny who was constantly criticised for being, well, too nice. His upcoming Edinburgh show was originally entitled “Prick”. However, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society have obliged him to change the “I” so that it reads Pr!ck in all official Fringe publicity materials, including brochures and even the website. So, before we crack on with the interview, here’s what Stuart had to say about the “Prickgate debacle”:

I read that you ran away to join the circus? What made you head off in that direction? Have you always had the urge to entertain people?

I am appallingly desperate to be liked.  Juggling, as well as being monumentally satisfying in a way only other jugglers can understand, seemed like a good way of making people look at me.  Then to make them like me I had to start talking. And, critically, stop juggling.

After the circus you went on to street performances? When did you suddenly realize, right it’s time to get behind a mic and do stand up?

I will always miss street-performing; part of me wouldn’t mind if the comedy bubble burst and I had no reason not to get back out there.  Even on days off I’d be looking around a town centre and wanting to make it my bitch.  In the end though, I wanted to talk about more complicated ideas than I felt a street audience would accept…

Which group of people did you find it the hardest to entertain? I honestly thought you were going to have a seriously hard time with the rugby crowd but you nailed it right from the word go when you dived straight into the rather thick necked character right in front of you. There’s definitely a fine line between having a laugh at someone’s expense and just making a fool of someone, although some people just throw that fine line right out of the window as soon as they walk on stage. What is your best heckler tactic?

Look them in the eye, and know, in your heart, that you’re wearing your girlfriend’s pants.  As long as you know a secret, they can’t touch you.

You were often criticized for being too nice. I have read that some of your last act on Show Me the Funnier was actually bluer and darker than we got to see. Is this true and why do you think it was cut out in the end?

I felt I was being nudged into doing a specific bit from my 2010 Edinburgh fringe show, and I didn’t want to hand over ownership of one of my best and most personal bits of material to an editor I’d never met!  I’m glad I made that decision – my stuff is still mine to do with as I please!

What would you say were the most important things you learnt from taking part in Show Me The Funny?

That if the deadline seems important enough, your work-rate can exceed your wildest expectations!

Which of the guest judges on the show were you most excited at getting to meet?

We didn’t really meet any of them sadly – though i’d have swapped the 100 grand prize money for a week’s mentoring from Johnny Vegas.

On most of these reality shows there seems to be an awful lot of bonding going on, although there was one moment when you had a bit of a fall out with Rudi (maybe more that we didn’t get to see). You even said that you were scared of him. At least you were in a hospital if anything did kick off. Do you all try to keep in touch with each other now?

We keep in touch as much as the comedy circuit allows, although I’d only met Dan once before and now I really like his act and am enjoying watching him develop as a comic.  I gigged with him tonight and he had a Henry Hoover on his head, it was lovely.

What kind of gigs were you doing before Show Me The Funny and how has this served as a spring board for your career? What has being a contestant brought to the table that you never imagined you’d be doing now?

One benefit of being constantly interviewed about comedy (on the show) was that I realised just how much I enjoyed talking about the art and craft of making people laugh – something which I’m now putting into practice in my interview-based podcast “The Comedian’s Comedian”.  It’s a very geeky, very specific, almost forensic look at how top comics create their work from scratch. You could say it’s the antidote to “Show Me The Funny”!

If you weren’t a comedian now, what do you think you would be doing now?

Con artist.  Pretty much the same skill set, same buzz, less driving.

What have you got in store for us over the next few months?

My new solo standup show “Prick” hits the Edinburgh Festival in August. It’s my best work to date and i’m giddy with excitement.  It’s an exploration of likeability, and contains one devastating act of real violence.  Whilst smiling.

A few quick fire questions:

Favourite Movie: Sneakers.

Favourite book: Good Omens.

Worst Movie: Spawn.

Favourite Band: Faith No More

Worst Band: Owl City – soulless cash-in Postal Service-lite. Gaah!

Favourite Videogame: hmm…  The Gears series was incredible. I’ve played 5-man Horde mode for hours.  However, it’s still Portal 2.  Just essential.  Breathtaking!

Which rising new stand-ups would you like to see more of in the future?

My favourites among my peers are Benny Boot, Henry Paker, Mike Wozniak and Nishant Kumar.  Gentlemen all.

Since you became a comic what is the joke/punchline that has gone down the worst?

Ah, got this one!  Years ago I tried to get away with:

“I used to be a freestyle aerial-display tap-dancer.  But I kept falling in sync”

Before the days of twitter you see – that’d probably work now!

If you had to go and live on a desert island with Kate Copstick, what three things would you take with you?

You can’t make me do this. Much as I love her, Cop and I are not designed for island-based cohabitation.

If you could present your own game show what would it entail?

I actually got to do this!  I played the host/last human alive in Mission 2110 on CBBC – it was my dream job on every level!

If you want a new one though, my own idea, a live-action zombie shopping mall task-based game.  Combination of Takeshi’s Castle and Shaun of the Dead.

A big thank you to Stuart for sparing us a few minutes of his precious time. Don’t forget, you can now catch his new podcast where he interviews a different comedian each time about their approach to the world of comedy. I couldn’t have thought of a better idea myself. Be sure to check those out at

You can also keep up to date with all his latest news at:

or @StuGoldsmith on twitter

We’ll leave you with a short message from Stuart himself:

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Update: Patrick Monahan – Shooting From the Lip!

May 16, 2012 | 1

A little over a month ago we interviewed “Show Me The Funny” winner Patrick Monahan. Since then he’s gone on to complete the last leg of his tour, launched some brand new celebrity guest vlogs and has announced he’ll be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year.

We asked him how well the last few dates had gone for him on his recent tour and it sounds like fun was had all round.

Pat told us that one bloke at Lullington Cricket club popped off to have a quick wee and didn’t want to queue up for the gents toilets and sneaked into the disabled toilets. The lucky chap got locked in for over 25minutes and the show had to be be put on hold with both staff and audience helping to unscrew the door and pull it off its hinges.

Also, recently at Nottingham, one  lad was out with his girlfriend and friends celebrating his 24th. It just so happened there was a trio of firemen in the audience, with one being a bit of a dab hand at playing the harmonica, and had one with him. Patrick got the birthday boy on stage, sat him on a chair while the fireman with the harmonica played a song for him (and happy birthday), while Patrick and the other 2 firemen did a birthday dance for the lad. He won’t forget that birthday in a while or the image of 3 blokes dancing round his crotch. Sounds like the fire brigade were starting fires rather than putting them out there.
I mentioned Patrick has been releasing various celebrity guest vlogs on his youtube channel so here just a few. You can find the rest over here. A massive budget must have been required to invite such AAA celebrities:


I always said Lady Gaga sang out of tuna…Sorry about that.

As a final note, please be sure to catch Patrick at his Edinburgh Festival show “Shooting From the Lip!”. Tickets are on sale now! He will be there for the whole month giving out hugs.

Just just click HERE if you fancy coming along
And last but definitely not least, don’t forget you can catch Patrick in the brand new movie “The Limelight” which will be available on the 20th of May to stream or download here.

If NE1 Can, Andy D Chambers Certainly Can

May 15, 2012 | 27

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?

Just Zombies.

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

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…

You can all twitter the man himself  @AndyChambersNE1
There’s also a Facebook group for NE1 Comedy
And for all booking enquiries please send your e-mails to Andy is available to be booked for gigs anywhere in the UK.


May 11, 2012 | 2

If you’re in need of a good dose of comedy then this could be just what the doctor ordered. The black comedy feature film “The Limelight” features an A-Z cast of some of the UK’s finest talent. Take your tissues with you though as you’ll be crying tears of joy and sadness.

If you thought comics have an easy life, with not a care in the world, think again. Writer/director and star of the movie, Glen Maney has been on a mission ever since he first came up with the script some 15 years ago. He wanted to show audiences just how much it really takes to be able to stand up on a stage and give it your all, regardless of what awaits you when the spotlight fades. That doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing any comic relief here though. Far from it.

The film itself will see its official release on the internet on the 20th of May. What better a time then to speak to Glen as he reaches the summit of a mountain he has been clambering up for so long.

I thought I’d leave it to Glen himself to get the ball rolling:

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PPSF – The script itself dates back over a decade and you did in fact sell the option to script in 2001 but came up against financial problems as a massive 2 million pounds was required. Where did the idea for the script come from? Had you written any scripts prior to this?

I’d been on a creative writing course and I’d also been writing my own comedy for some time,so I knew how to basically structure a script and develop characters although to be honest this is something that improves over the years. I’d written a script about a pub football team which came back to me virtually the day after I’d sent it to agents, but when I read through it again, they were right. It was rushed and under developed.A  script has to be developed and developed until you’re happy with it.

I sent ‘The Limelight’ , which at the time was called a pretty cheesy ‘Tears of a Clown’ off to about three agents and one of them placed it.

PPSF- On writing the script did you have most of the actors in mind or did you choose the cast at a later date? I understand Ricky Grover was originally cast as the lead. How did you land the protagonist’s role in the end?

I sort of had Ricky Grover half in mind for the lead when I wrote it. I’d met him when I first started doing a few alternative gigs and he was so encouraging and we had a mutual love of boxing, so we hit it off straight away. I’d seen a lot of comedians live but when I saw his act at the Comedy Store I thought to myself ‘How is this guy not a household name?’. He was known in comedy circles and had a following for his BULLA character, but he wasn’t as well known as I felt his comedy deserved, so I thought he could bring a humour, an empathy with the man and woman in the street, out of what was a pretty pathetic character in my script.

Ricky read the script and loved it. When I sold the option, I put his name forward for the lead role, as it was envisaged that a couple of million budget was going to be attached.

Three years later I got the script back as the option had run out.I  was talking to Ricky on set,when he was making a pilot to raise funds for Bulla The Movie (eventually Big Fat Gypsy Gangster) and he said why not make it yourself. He agreed to come on board.

It soon became clear that Ricky wouldn’t have the time to play the lead because he’d have to turn down a lot of well paid work to do it. We never had much of a budget and Ricky was chipping in with that as well! (His own expenses – Cast and Crew breakfasts etc), so I suggested he play Al Moran (The Monster Manager). Ricky wasn’t that enthusiastic because the character is a bit of a monster, but looking back now Ricky is one of the few people I know who could have got away with being menacing and vile whilst injecting humour into the character. I think he does a great job.

So we advertised for a Gary Shand (the main character) and had a few actors audition but no one really captured the essence of what I was looking for. I was assisted at the time by Steve Hammal and Paul Long who were friends I’d made some shorts with under a heading of The Giggle Factory and whose opinions I respected and they both looked at me one day and said, ‘You should play him yourself’ .At first I didn’t want to do it but I did a screen test and whilst you’re never happy with yourself on screen, I thought I could get away with it. So I was cast! And loser Gary Shand was born.

PPSF- The lead character Gary Shand must have been a really difficult role to get yourself prepared for as you describe him as an ageing, struggling comedian fighting depression, alcohol dependency, schizophrenia and a marriage break up. I presume you have little in common with the role you played.

Ha,Ha. You presume right. I’m an ageing comedian (coming up to my prime!). I’ve had the odd struggle in life and sadly, I’m divorced, but that’s where the similarities end. Gary Shand is a mix of a lot of characters I’ve known in my life, both on the comedy circuit and off. People have asked who it’s based on and it is genuinely not based on any one person. In one way it was difficult to get into the role because I hadn’t experienced any of his weaknesses personally but in another it was drawn from people I recognised to such an extent it was easy.

The funny thing is that people seem to identify with him. I think that’s because we all know people who suffer from one of his problems, if indeed they haven’t suffered themselves.

PPSF- A fair few popular British comedies have had a very dark plot to them such as The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Wilbur (wants to kill himself). Why do you think Brits are so good at drawing humour out of the darkness?

I think our comedy in particular is born out of the need to escape depression. That’s how we handle things. If something major happens, some awful event, how do we usually get to hear of it? The news? Occasionally, yes, but more often than not,the text jokes start coming! There’s humour in every situation if you look for it. Some atrocities I can’t find any humour in, but we make a quip, not necessarily about the event itself, we brush ourselves down and we get on with it.

I once had two coach loads of Americans walk out of a gig because I said (three years after 9/11) I love those Americans but I don’t understand them. In a recent survey 23% of Americans said they wouldn’t fly again after 9/11. What I can’t understand is why they are still using buildings! A British crowd would have handled that even if it had happened on British soil. It wasn’t being disrespectful to the victims of 9/11. It wasn’t meant to hurt. It was a quirk that I found funny, so I said it. So the answer is I think we Brits are good at laughing at ourselves and we use humour better than anyone else to cope with tragedy. Let’s face it, we’re always dealing with tragedy. Why? I don’t know.

PPSF- Apart from Ricky Grover, you have got some fabulous talent working on the project. Tell me a bit about the cast and crew you got involved and how they all fit into the puzzle?

Well I knew Patrick Monahan from when I first gigged on the alternative circuit and we’d got on well. I thought he was funny but more importantly a nice guy and with a low budget feature it’s important you all get on and there are no prima donnas. I was loking to cast a good looking, funny, younger comedian and Patrick fitted all the boxes. Could he act? I think we found he could. The feedback on his performance was excellent.

John Robson who I got involved with the film because he has a great eye for detail and had overseen a few music films for his artists at Vandalism 360, had shared a flat with Mark Monero (formerly Eastenders –Wild Bill ) and was close friends with Phil Nichol and Craig Campbell, who I knew from gigs but not to any great degree. He wanted to use their talents and as we looked through the script there were perfect roles for them with the time they had available.

I was good friends with Jay Sodagar as we’d worked for the Laughing Horse together on lots of occasions and as we needed an Asian landlord, I got him involved. He looked at the script and said,’that’s not stereotyping is it Mr.Maney!’ He said it with a smile though and was onboard.

The leading lady we auditioned for, and Sonya Roseman had the look I wanted.

Steve Hammal who is as good a cinematographer as you’ll find and has a great name in advertising films and corporates is a good friend and has been for years and he agreed to do some camera work for us, as did John Cattle (Wight Trash) who makes his own extreme sports films and Simon Higgins from Sky God Films who’d made the critically acclaimed ‘This is Asa’ about a young boy who tragically died on the Isle of Wight. John Robson knew Simon and we both knew John Cattle.

We hired another professional cameraman and sound recordist via Talent Circle and called in all our contacts for favours with other roles like make-up etc.

So that’s the story really. Basically EVERYONE involved loved the script!

PPSF- In the end you managed to record the film for 50,000 pounds from your own earnings, 1500 pounds from Screen South and financial assistance from family and friends. This was on the back of the defunct National Film Council having refused to fund the project, in favour of other, more essential projects, such good old Harry Potter. That’s a pretty big risk to take (you, not the National Film Council). You must have been extremely convinced that your film would have a certain degree of success.

How then did you go about making sure the project would have the best possible team working on it with the now restrained budget you had to work with? I heard John Robson even said that you must be the only film production company who doesn’t have a camera.

I’m laughing thinking back to that. Yes,I bumped into John in the street on The Isle of Wight where we both lived although he had a flat in London. He asked what I was up to and I said putting a film together and starting a film company. He had read the script a year earlier and loved it. I asked him if he wanted to be involved because of his experience with music videos. He asked what equipment I had. I replied none and his answer was ‘’Brilliant. We must be the first film company not to own a camera! Yes, I’m on board! ‘  It’s worth pointing out that the next day we went out and bought two cameras, lighting and sound equipment and with Steve Hammal, John Cattle, Simon Higgins and of course our paid crew having their own equipment, we were more than well stocked from the equipment angle.

We had a good experienced team in place and their track records spoke for themselves. We felt very lucky. The amazing thing was they all loved the project too. They’d go to work and then come straight to our set, as and when the actors were available.

I believed that the story was a strong one and one that audiences of all ages would relate to but I honestly didn’t think the costs would escalate the way they did. We’ve spent £760 on London Travelcards alone and over £4000 on travelling expenses!  Just to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner for a crew of say ten film crew and five actors in the centre of London for example costs more than you realise and then you have to put them up in a hotel. I remember me and John Robson sleeping in a car to keep the costs down! The costs just escalated.

We had things like monitors, tapes, lenses and even hard drives to buy. There wasn’t the terabyte hard drives of today available when we first started! Anyway, the point is, the costs just mounted and before you know it you reason to yourself that you’ve spent too much to lose so you plough even more money in! I didn’t realise how much it’d all cost until the end! That’s the truth!

PPSF- All in all, the production process has gone on for five years. That is some serious dedication. Was there any time where you felt like packing in as it just seemed as though it would never get finished or were you always confident that you would reach where you are today?

There were LOTS of days when I thought it wouldn’t be finished! We had a hard drive, that wasn’t backed up, literally set on fire in front of our eyes and we had to go back and re-film. There were days when we’d get to a location for a second day of filming and overnight there’d be things like roadworks springing up! There were too many days to mention but there was such a commitment from everyone and so much goodwill, I had a sneaky feeling that one day it’d be finished.

PPSF- After all this time, what five words would you use to describe the entire process and the finished product?

Exciting, Frustrating, Humourous, Infuriating and Funny.

PPSF- Based on some of the reviews the early screenings have received it looks like the long journey has well been worth it with comments such as “The Limelight will make you cry but will also make you laugh and make you laugh like you haven’t for a long time”.

The film got it’s national premier at the London Independent Film Festival on the 20th of April, this year. How well did that go for you? Are you happy with its reception so far?

To be honest I’ve been blown away by it’s reception. Let’s be honest, we’ve made a small little independent film and to be getting reviews like the one you’ve stated from an independent film critic is just so pleasing it’s not true. The film won’t be for everyone and we’ll have bad reviews to come as well, I’ve no doubt, but yes, we’re pleased.

The reception to it at The London Independent film festival was more than we could have hoped for. You always hope that you’ll make a film that captures people attention but when you do it’s so gratifying I can’t put it into words.

PPSF- Something I must ask you. At the end of the trailer we see a guy walking around with his pants around his ankles? Can you enlighten us about that or will we just have to watch the movie to find out? It’s definitely got me intrigued.

Intrigued is good and yes you’ll have to watch the film. One secret I can let out though is that he was bloody cold! No porn film auditions for Gary Shand that day!

PPSF- The film is released on the 20th of May. It’s being released online via your website. How exactly will that work? What will people have to do to get their hands on it? Will it be available worldwide and do you have any intentions of releasing it on dvd/BluRay?

For a small film like ours the big problem is enough people knowing about it. We are initially going to distribute via a company called Distrify. David Wilkinson of Guerrilla Films has been of great help with his advice and knows the film market better than most. The film can be downloaded or streamed worldwide for a small fee via our website, you’ll literally go to the site, press buy the film, decide whether you just want to watch it on stream or actually download it and pay with your card there and then. People can also sell it on their website wall for a small income stream if they so wish, so it’s a good way of spreading the word with very little marketing budget.

We’re going to see what the feedback is like before deciding on a DVD run. It’s in our heads to do a limited edition after it’s done the festival rounds. We’re entered into some pretty big festivals worldwide that specialise in Independent film and I think a DVD release would come after it’s done the rounds in those.

PPSF- If the film garners the same kind of reception from the general public as it has from critics to date, what do you have planned for the future? Have you got any more scripts up your sleeve or are you going to focus more on your stand up career for the time being?

I have a few scripts up my sleeve and I’m working on a project with a Director called Malcolm Mowbray who co-wrote and Directed a film called ‘A Private Function’ many moons ago and has done a lot of film and t.v. I’ll tell you more once it’s set in stone.

I will be doing some stand-up but I won’t say concentrating on it as I enjoy performing but my true love is the writing of comedy.

PPSF- I mentioned earlier that the National Film Council rejected your film in favour of Harry Potter. Nows your chance for redemption. Let us know why we should all be watching the Limelight rather than a 3 hour wizard fest. (I think I left the easiest question til last here).

Well hopefully you’ll laugh more and relate more to the characters. It’s real and yet it isn’t. I HOPE it’s an emotional rollercoaster and we’ve relied on a strong script and good performances rather than a load of expensive CGI to make it watchable. Not that you’d want to see Gary Shand flying through the air on a broomstick anyway! Not a pretty sight!

My advice is,if you’ve seen Harry Potter, go and watch The Limelight and then you the viewer decide for yourself. We hope you enjoy.

A screener of the film was well received by the board of the Los Angeles Cinema Festival so it looks set to make it over the pond any time soon. We’ll keep you posted.

For now though, please check out the official site (where the film is available as of the 20th of May), the facebook group or follow Glen and the team on twitter: @limelightmovie

You can also check out a trailer for the movie on the website but I must warn you that you are in for a bit of strong language. I thought that might get you clicking on the link a bit quicker…. If you liked this article please show us your support and come and visit us over on Facebook.


Dan Mitchell: A Bat out of Hell

May 4, 2012 | 2

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.

“Look love, I’m a liberal guy and believe in equality so I’m not embarrassed to be beaten by a woman. But do you have to beat me up with a 5foot purple penis? Allow me SOME dignity”

“That’s Sar way, ah ha, ah ha Sarlacc it, ah ha ah ha” (that is possibly the worst pun ever.)
Auditions for the Death star production of West Side Story were going well.


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.

“absolutely brilliant” Ross Noble
“a joy to watch” Bob Mortimer

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

Interview: On the Gaming Couch with Stephen Merchant

May 1, 2012 | 3
The vast majority of you will be more than familiar with Stephen Merchant from his roles in the series Extras and Life’s Too Short, as well as appearances in major movies such as Hall Pass, and providing his voice for the animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet. He even had a tiny cameo in the series, 24 as a CTU staffer with Chloe O’Brian. In the gaming world you are probably more familiar with him for his role as Wheatley in the game Portal 2 for which he won the award for ‘Best Performance by a Human Male’ at the 2011 VIDEO GAME AWARDS as well as the Outstanding Character Performance Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
You can currently see/hear him in the Ricky Gervais’ show on HBO, now in its third season.
A massive thank you to Stephen then for taking out a moment of his busy schedule to take a seat on the gaming couch with PPSF.
When Valve offered you the part as Wheatley in Portal 2, did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?
No idea. I had done voices for animated movies and had fun, so I presumed it would be a natural extension of that. It was actually much harder because it was essentially one long, relentless monologue. And unlike a movie, you have to record hundreds of alternative lines for when the player goes wandering off or gets lost or stuck. It was exhausting. I was in a recording booth shouting down imaginary corridors for hours at a time.
When you won the Outstanding Character Performance Award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the Best Performance by a Human Male for the Spike Video Game Awards what was your reaction?
I always like being honored for my work. It means people respond to what you do. I was also nominated for a British BAFTA Video Game award but lost to Mark Hamill.  Fucking Jedis!
Obviously, as you were unaware of the game, how on earth were you able to prepare for such a role? Particularly given you have said that you found it extremely complex from turning from “lovably hopeless, to sort of hopelessly evil”.
The guys from Valve were great and very supportive. They had a clear vision so they gave me plenty of direction and guidance and I quickly got in tune with what they were after. One of my comedy film heroes is Bob Hope and his on screen persona was a sort of fast-talking coward. So that’s what I was emulating in Portal 2.
What input did Valve provide you to get you up to speed?
Valve had written a strong script, with lots of funny stuff throughout, and they showed me character pictures and test sections of the game, so I had a clear vision of the Portal world when we started. They let me improvise a lot, which is one of the luxuries of something like this. You can try many many different takes because unlike when you make a film you don’t have hundreds of people stood round, all being paid, watching you shout stupid stuff that will never get used. It’s just me on my own in a recording booth.
A recent survey showed that video games actually managed to rake in more than blockbuster movies in 2011. This is serious big business now. If you were ever asked to return as Wheatley in say a sequel, or an animated film/series would you jump at the chance?
I would certainly consider it. I have to admit I had no idea how crazily popular the game would be. So many fans have told me how much they enjoyed Wheatley, which is very gratifying because I did work hard with Valve to make him funny but also characterful. Given that he’s basically a blinking robotic eye, we must have done something right.  
You, Ricky and Karl are in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most downloaded podcast of all time with an astounding 280,000,000 downloads. What did you think when HBO decided to turn those into an animated series? Did you think there was really a need to do such a thing?
Despite the world record, there are millions of people who had never heard Karl’s ramblings. Fans had done their own animated versions of bits of our conversations for YouTube, so we knew it was something that added a new dimension, and I don’t think you can argue with how inventive the animators are. They have really brought new life to those chats, and attracted new Karl fans.
You also released a Live DVD last year: Stephen Merchant Live: Hello Ladies. A lot of people kind of assumed you had just jumped on the band wagon on the trail of Ricky Gervais’ successful stand up, but I hear you had been doing stand up well before you met him. Back in 2001 you, Ricky, Jimmy Carr and Robin Ince joined forces for a show called Rubbernecker at the Edinburgh Festival. Why is it then that you only decided to release a DVD last year?
I did stand-up after I left university. I gigged regularly but once The Office took off I just stopped. I didn’t get enough of a kick from performing to warrant driving up and down the motorway to gigs, eating bad food in service stations at midnight. I used to look at Ricky doing stand-up and think, ‘Why’s he bothering? It’s so much effort.’ Then I just woke up one day and I had the itch again. I felt I’d never really nailed it. So I started doing five minute slots in comedy clubs and eventually put an entire show together. When you work in TV you get very insulated. Stand-up is so raw and direct, there’s nowhere to hide. It reminds you how hard it is to make people laugh – and hopefully the experience feeds back into everything else I do.
Life’s Too Short has been more than well received. Is there any chance we’ll get to see you doing more of that show or do you have something else in store for us?
I think we’ll probably do more, perhaps a one-off special, but I’m not sure when you’ll see it yet.
Finally, if you had the chance to create your very own game, what would you create and what would you call it?
You just said video games are a billion dollar industry, so if I had a good idea for a game, why on earth would I tell you what it is?
A big thanks to Stephen.
Don’t forget, he currently has his live DVD “Hello Ladies” available form all top retailers.
I wont sell that though. I’ll leave that to Steve himself.

Dont’ forget to like us over on facebook if you liked this. Loads more in store…..

PPSF facebook webzine.

and pure playstation fans facebook site.

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.

Interview: Patrick Monahan

April 16, 2012 | 5

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:

Vlog 1:

Vlog 2:

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

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:

Pictures from the vlog on flickr:

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