My Comedy Hero: Stuart Laws on Harry Hill
- Brian Donaldson
- 13 February 2020
As the popular 'writer, director, stand-up and goalkeeper' goes across bits of the UK with his latest show, he picks the big-collared legend as his comedic hero
Aged 13 I didn't know what stand-up comedy was. I wanted to be a football journalist because I knew I liked writing and I loved football to such a level that I had used my Amstrad computer (Spurs fan) to keep a database of the scores and scorers of every game of the World Cup USA 1994. My dad saw something in his shy, weird son that made him sit me down to watch a new Channel 4 TV show by a comedian called Harry Hill.
I didn't really know what a comedian was; I had seen some clips of Bob Monkhouse and Michael Barrymore with a microphone but I thought of them as gameshow hosts who were funny. Then The Harry Hill Show started and everything changed; it was everything that I found funny and couldn't express. It was also a reassurance that all the weird thoughts and jokes I had with myself and my best friend Matt were not only OK, but funny to the rest of the world. Stupid jokes, wordplay, a purple cat puppet and a badger parade? That's what I want to do!
It genuinely changed how I engaged with others and I slowly became more confident to be 'funny' in a group, and by the time I was 15 I had hosted the youth group's talent show with Matt. I watched everything that Harry did; it was all surprising and hilarious and I loved how random it all felt but on rewatching, it all felt logical and connected.
In early 2005 I just happened to see that Harry was doing a 'preview' in Windsor, so I booked two tickets, for me and my dad, not knowing what on earth a 'preview' was and why the tickets were so cheap. It was just before his nationwide tour of the show Hooves, and a 120-seater venue was a chance for him to try out the show before the massive venues. I had never been to a comedy show before, and because I'm a thick idiot it hadn't occurred to me that the TV show I was watching would also be available to see live.
The show was amazing: the space-shuttle routine was the hardest I'd ever laughed and during the interval I had to step over a prostrate badger. By the end I was absolutely buzzing, so, like a stupid fucking nerd I hung around afterwards to talk to Harry. He was the kindest, nicest person and NOTHING like he was on stage. We spoke for about 15 minutes about films and comedy and I left with an incredible feeling, knowing that you can be quiet and normal offstage but big-collared and silly onstage.
A year later I did my first stand-up gig but the first few years were a struggle, until my friend Matt encouraged me to try and be myself more on stage. I started to enjoy it more, and when inspiration ran dry I would always go to Matt to throw ideas around, like we did on the school bus in the 90s. Now, six solo shows in, I'm on my own tour, which includes one date at a certain Windsor venue.
Stuart Laws Is All In is on tour until Saturday 23 May.