Local Laughs: Richard Brown – 'I'd lock the doors and make them watch Kim Noble'
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 October 2017
Glasgow stand-up talks hecklers, pre-show rituals and offensive comedy
Glasgow-based stand-up Richard Brown takes on our Q&A aimed at rising stars of the Scottish scene. He tells us why comedy memoirs are not to be recommended and being careful about what comes out of his mouth
Can you tell us about the moment when you thought: 'stand-up is for me'?
There wasn't a specific moment, I've just always loved stand-up and in 2011 I did my first spot at The Halt Bar in Glasgow. That said, every September after The Fringe, I have to go back to a real-world job, and need to put the filter back up between my brain and my mouth to stop myself making the type of jokes I've just spent a month making in pubs with other comics. I'm reminded that the world of stand-up, inhabited as it is by narcissists, drunks and damaged people, is where I want to be.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about?
I don't have any rituals, so to speak, I just pace about a lot, usually have a drink to calm my nerves, and question my life decisions. That last bit's not a joke, by the way. The jokes I write are better than that. I literally mean that as I stand at the side of the stage, trying not to have a panic attack and waiting for the compere to say my name, I wonder why the fuck I do this.
How do you handle hecklers?
It depends on the heckle, and whether they're trying to disrupt the show or be part of the show. I hate both types. The latter is infuriating because those people are often nice people, so you can lose a room if you're mean to them. The former isn't as common but easier to handle because if the heckler is drunkenly disrupting the show for people around them, all of whom have paid money, then just go for the jugular. Unless the heckler shouting 'you're shit' is right. I hate it when the heckler shouting 'you're shit' is right.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'offensive comedy'?
When it's shit. If you put thought into what you're saying and how you're saying it, you can talk about most subjects. Comics that say audiences are too politically correct are usually just too shit.
What's the one thing (good or bad) you remember about your very first stand-up gig?
I don't remember much of my first gig, and afterwards I wasn't even sure if I'd enjoyed it. What I do remember is that I'd really enjoyed writing in the two weeks leading up to it, so I kept performing to give me a reason to keep on writing.
What's the best piece of advice you've received from another comedian so far?
When I first started, an Australian comic called Geoff Gawler told me, 'stop being so self-deprecating. If you tell the audience "we're on a big pink fluffy cloud" the audience will believe we're on a big pink fluffy cloud. If you tell the audience you're a shit comedian the audience will believe you're a shit comedian.' That made a big difference.
You're curating your own 'legends of comedy' line-up. Can you tell us the bill's top three acts?
With a name like Legends of Comedy, people would probably be expecting household names that fill arenas. So once the audience were in and seated I'd lock the doors and make them watch Kim Noble, whose show You're Not Alone is one of the funniest, darkest, disturbing and beautiful things I've ever seen; Paul Currie, whose brilliantly surreal mind is unlike any other comic I can think of and whose world is always a joy to venture into; and Doug Stanhope. Just because I really like Doug Stanhope.
Which comedian's memoir would you recommend to someone and why?
I wouldn't recommend reading a comedian's memoir. It takes so much ego and narcissism for a person to stand on that stage that having that person talk exclusively about themselves for 300 pages would be fucking tedious! If you're going to read a memoir, then get I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Cracking book, that.
Richard Brown appears at The Stand Glasgow, Thursday 23–Saturday 25 November, and Yesbar, Glasgow, Friday 22 & Saturday 23 December. He's also part of CHUNKS, McPhabbs, Glasgow, Monday 27 November and Monday 18 December.