Interview: Gary Meikle – 'I wore Bono glasses, shorts, baseball boots and a Freddy Krueger style jumper'
Scottish comic discusses heckling, pre-show rituals and his dream comedy lineup
Glasgow stand-up Gary Meikle takes on our Q&A aimed at rising stars of the Scottish comedy scene. He tells us his favourite Louis CK routine, recalls that very first gig and offers audiences a little bit of advice …
Can you tell us about the moment when you thought: 'stand-up is for me'?
I've always enjoyed comedy but rarely fantasised about being a comedian due to the crazy busy life I've led up until four years back when I found myself stuck in a boring office job. I then discovered after six years of working with a computer that I had Microsoft Word: yup, I'm that much of a technophobe. I then started doodling with no intention of anything other than to fill my time but after a few pages of what must have been pretty shit anecdotes I decided that what I had would be good for a comedian. Then after a few more weeks I thought 'sod it I'll try it myself', applied for an open spot at the Halt Bar and that was it. My first attempt was five minutes long and although I only got one real laugh it was enough for me to be hooked.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about?
Pre-show I only need five minutes of alone time, either pacing up and down or sitting with my head in my hands roughly going over whatever I plan to talk about, which more often than not gets changed once I'm up there and in the moment.
How do you handle hecklers?
In my short 3.5 years, I've genuinely never been properly heckled and I've no idea why. Sometimes in smaller venues, people will try to contribute as if it's a conversation, which is fine and can even add to the laughter.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'offensive comedy'?
I personally don't do any offensive material, but comedy is like music: it's totally subjective so whatever other people like / dislike is up to them. But everyone should remember it's not real, and always do a little bit of research beforehand so as to kind-of know what you're walking into.
What's the one thing (good or bad) you remember about your very first stand-up gig?
I remember being dressed up like a tit: I wore Bono glasses, shorts, baseball boots and a Freddy Krueger style jumper as I thought I had to look funny too! Even thinking about that now gives me the willies.
What's the best piece of advice you've received from another comedian so far?
Best bit of advice I was given, from a few comedians actually, was simply to be myself, not worry about what other comedians are doing and just create my own path.
What's your favourite routine by another comic?
My favourite monologue, without a doubt, is when Louis CK explains the words 'faggot,' 'nigger' and 'cunt', and how they're not always offensive. Later on in his set he brings them into play all together when shouting at a deer he's just run over. It's the most clever and beautiful bit of comedy I've ever seen.
You're curating your own 'legends of comedy' line-up. Tell us the bill's top three acts.
Richard Pryor because I love the pictures he paints in my head with his stories; you believe what he's saying to himself is real even when it's clear he's being surreal. Ali Wong because she's just a bare-knuckle comedian that's full of constant hilarious observations; you can literally see her de-stressing after each joke like it's a weight lifted now that she's shared. Before my eyes were opened up to the comedy circuit, I watched Lee Evans for ten years over and over, even though knowing what was coming next word by word I'd still be floored. He's a genius in his own right and his physical comedy is second to none.
Gary Meikle is at The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 5–Sat 7 Jan; Gary Meikle: In Jail or Dead is at The Stand, Glasgow, Wed 1 Mar ahead of a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe next August.