Incoming: Ed O'Meara on fear, parents and Swindon
Andrew Mickel3 July 2012
Our new(ish) act slot continues with definitely-not-a-BNP-worker Ed O'Meara...
There comes a point for every aspiring stand-up that they think, sod it, let's chuck in the day job and just do the comedy. Beardy man Ed O'Meara has quit the day job, and so not surprisingly, his debut hour at Edinburgh next month is all about fear. He's even doing a survey ahead of August on fear (which you can be a useful 'comedy participant' in by filling in over here).
But first up, here's a chat about why his mother won't see him do stand-up and his father doesn't rate his films...
What brought you into comedy?
I have been writing cartoons, jokes and sketches for as long as I can remember. When I was 21 I decided to do stand up comedy, and then put it off for years out of terror. It’s been the pattern of my life ever since. I am from a big family and my brothers and sisters are just as funny as me. I assumed they would go into comedy too. They didn’t. They got proper well-paid jobs, have families, take nice holidays and are happy.
Describe your act in five words.
I try to be funny.
What's been the best reaction you've had to your comedy?
I used to do a bit based on a BNP flier warning of a gay conspiracy to take over Britain. I once did it at a gig in Essex where one audience member didn’t really get the point of it, so seriously suggested that I should work for the BNP on a part-time basis. It never occurred to me that someone could be racist three days a week and then a multiculturalism on evenings and weekends. I turned it into material and it became some of my most reliable stuff. One day, audiences just stopped responding to it. That’s always the case with jokes. At some point, you’ll just stop finding them funny. When that happens, the audience soon follows suit.
Who's your biggest fan?
Not my mum. Although she saw some stand up of mine on YouTube and was pleasantly surprised, she explained the reason she’d not come to see me before: “What if you were terrible? I’d feel so bad for you.” The sad thing is that she meant it in a nice way. Being English is such a disadvantage.
What's the toughest lesson you've learnt in comedy?
You have to work so hard and gig like crazy. I’m still trying to get into that mind-set. You have to love it and pursue it even if it means going to Swindon. An evening on the sofa always seems suddenly very enticing when you have got a gig to do. If any comic tells you different, they lie.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Firstly, the answer to everything is to do more gigs.
Secondly, acknowledge if a joke doesn’t go well, but don’t apologise for it. Backpedalling is the quickest way to unravel any goodwill between you and the audience. I am King of Backpedalling, so I should know.
Thirdly, stick to your guns. That’s what a big promoter said to me. I did. He doesn’t seem to book me anymore. I may have picked up someone else’s guns by mistake. Keep an eye on your guns. Label them.
Finally, be wary of comedy blowhards who offer you constant advice.
Show us something fascinating on the internet about you (that isn't your Twitter/Facebook/website).
My first short film. My Dad’s reaction was “Was it supposed to be funny?” I have always convinced myself that I can’t act, but I think that I come pretty close to acting here, so I’m proud of that.
What is your guilty comedy pleasure?
When I was a kid I used to hide from my siblings so I could watch Russ Abbott. In those days we used to regularly watch The Upper Hand, so were obviously starved of actual entertainment. Thank God the internet came along. I have some dodgy music tastes, but no comedy skeletons. If I’m ever caught enjoying Mrs Brown’s Boys, I’d like to be summarily executed in front of a baying mob.
Which other acts have you seen while gigging you recommend?
Tony Law, The Pajama Men, Daniel Simonsen and James Acaster. I can watch them and they make me feel like a proper audience member again, because I can never see the laughs coming. There are so many good acts I could recommend, but I never know what these people are going to do next. People love comedy they can relate to, but this shouldn't be at the expense of surprise. If you want to develop a comedy brain, listen to Mitch Hedberg. You don’t have to like the jokes, you just need to follow the thought patterns.
What's the day job?
I used to do admin because I thought there was something great about doing a crappy job on a temporary basis to drive your ambitions. There isn’t, so I finally stopped doing it. Most stand up comics spend 80% of the time doing admin to get the gigs in the first place, so why double up? Now I do gigs, write stuff, do a radio show and build websites. If I’m ever constipated I go online and check my bank balance. I cover all this in my Edinburgh 2012 show "You Have Nothing to Fear" but I pad it out over an hour.
You can catch Ed's Edinburgh show, You Have Nothing to Fear, at Opium on Cowgate at 9pm from the 4 - 25 August. It is free, which is really a marvellous price.
Your rating: None
- The inaugural chat show host-off: Eleanor Conway vs Tom Allen
- Edinburgh Fringe Picks 2012: Edinburgh Comedy Award winners
- Christmas comedy shows in London 2012: a comprehensive guide
- Stephen Fry
- Sam Savage
- Miranda Hart and Jonathan Ross take adventure expeditions for Christmas
- Edinburgh Fringe picks 2012: podcast folk
- Stewart Lee accuses Jack Whitehall of stealing moon gag
- Michael Palin awarded Bafta fellowship
- Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr's Best Party wins Reykjavik election