Gareth Waugh – 'People look at me as an easy target'

Interview: Gareth Waugh – 'People look at me as an easy target'

Scottish comic discusses the thoughts that go through his head just before going on stage and the comedy lineup he'd curate if he ever had that opportunity. Sadly, two of them are dead . . .

Edinburgh stand-up Gareth Waugh takes on our Q&A aimed at rising stars of the Scottish comedy scene. He tells us about gigging in Oz, what he deems to be offensive comedy and dealing with hecklers

Can you tell us about the moment when you thought 'stand-up is for me'?
When I was backpacking in Australia I picked up a job at the Sydney Comedy Store behind the bar. I'd always stayed up late watching Paramount Comedy (Comedy Central now) and shows like The Comedy Store and Jongleurs, so to work in a comedy club was a dream come true. They have a competition called Raw in Australia that's for new acts and I remember watching one night and the usually high standard of the competition wasn't present: in fact the standard was shocking! I remember watching it and thinking 'I could be as bad as that'.

Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about?
Not really, though there is a slight moment right before I go on stage at some gigs where the absurdity of what I'm doing washes over me and I realise I'm getting to do something and play the same stages as some of my heroes and idols have played and it really gees me up.

How do you handle hecklers?
I actually do get heckled quite a lot. I think people look at me as an easy target or think I won't handle it. I really enjoy it; it keeps you fresh and on your toes and 99 times out of 100 the heckle is never anything malicious. I deal with them just fine though.

Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'offensive comedy'?
Racism, homophobia etc etc. I think that type of comedy is very rare, however. If you're getting upset by a so-called 'offensive' comedian like Jim Jefferies, then grow up.

What's the one thing (good or bad) you remember about your very first stand-up gig?
My first ever gig was actually at the Sydney Comedy Store. I made pretty good friends with a large amount of the acts who performed there. One of the guys I got on best with was called Jacques Barrett. He knew I had been writing material and we arranged for me to do a spot on a Friday night when I wouldn't be working the bar. I got so drunk waiting. We waited for the manager to have a cigarette and when he did Jacques introduced me onstage to do five minutes.

What's the best piece of advice you've received from another comedian so far?
Don't be a dick.

You're curating your own 'legends of comedy' lineup. Tell us the bill's top three acts
Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Pryor and Patrice O'Neal.

Which comedian's memoir would you recommend to someone?
Leading With My Chin by Jay Leno is great but my favourite book is Judd Apatow's Sick in the Head, though it isn't really a memoir, it's a collection of interviews he's done with stand-up comedians.

Gareth Waugh is at The Stand, Edinburgh, Mon 4 Sep (hosting Red Raw), Wed 27 Sep (as part of Benefit in Aid of Smalls For All); The Stand, Glasgow, Tue 12 Sep (hosting Red Raw), Thu 21–Sat 23 Sep (weekend bill), Tue 26 Sep (headlining Red Raw).

Red Raw

Our long-running weekly new comedy showcase is regarded as the best open mic night in the UK. Catch up to ten new acts – some treading the boards for the very first time. This is where everyone starts and it's your chance to see the stars of tomorrow today. Watch out for older hands dropping in to try out new material too.