MC Hammersmith: 'I eviscerated him within four rhyming couplets'
This up and comer on the Scottish comedy circuit talks about straddling the divide between anarchy and insanity
Performer of improvised hip hop comedy, MC Hammersmith (actual name Will Naameh) tells us why his current pre-show rituals and his comedy debut at the age of 15 were both dubbed 'unsettling'.
Can you tell us about the moment when you thought 'comedy is for me'?
I took my first improv comedy workshop when I was 13, and I distinctly remember leaving it feeling elated that I had, at one point (briefly) made a room full of people laugh. This was in stark contrast to my previous experiences in rooms full of people, so I decided to keep doing it.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about?
My act is entirely improvised hip-hop comedy, so I usually step out of the green room, stick headphones in and freestyle rap under my breath about things I can see around me. I'm often told by other comics that they find this 'unsettling', so probably don't do this.
How do you handle hecklers?
As a musical act, I'm normally much louder than any heckler, so I never really have any problems. Though I do recall one time a remarkably drunk and persistent man fervently heckling me in my solo show, claiming he was also a rapper. He was a white boy with dreadlocks wearing sunglasses indoors. So I invited him up onstage to rap-battle me. He got up and could barely stitch a sentence together, so I eviscerated him within four rhyming couplets, which felt a bit like kicking a puppy. I regret nothing and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'offensive comedy'?
Punch up, don't punch down. Also, comedians who moan that free speech is being restricted in this day and age are usually just angry that they can no longer get away with lazy hate-speech disguised as comedy. So make great times, not hate crimes.
What's the one thing (good or bad) you remember about your very first comedy gig?
My first ever comedy gig was at a talent show at my school when I was 15. A friend entered my name to do stand-up comedy with only a few days' notice. I remember literally being pushed offstage by a teacher because I kept rambling and never thought to write an ending. One or two people told me I was funny, but most people told me I was 'unsettling', so no real change there.
What's the best piece of advice you've received from another comedian so far?
Keep doing the gigs you love, and never stop following the fun. Myself and two of my best friends occasionally do an improvised ChuckleVision show for adults that blurs the line between anarchic brilliance and diagnosable insanity. It is also the most fun improv show that any of us do. We do it every few months at tiny, unpaid improv nights to remind ourselves to actually have fun onstage.
You're curating your own 'legends of comedy' line-up: who are the bill's top three acts and why are they on there?
Andy Askins, Mandy Knight, Simon Lomas: the only three comics on the UK circuit who consistently leave me helplessly breathless with laughter.
Which comedian's memoir would you recommend to someone?
Spike Milligan's War Memoirs are endlessly brilliant. Also the Barry Cryer Comedy Scrapbook has a joke in it about a woman reading a book on a train that I think is genuinely the funniest joke ever written.