10 Questions with Comedian Eddie French / We talk Improv / Ladies Nights / and big 2018 ahead.
1. So Eddie me about your journey as a stand up?
I started about 7 years ago after returning to the UK after 3 years in Madrid. I worked as a teacher and a tour guide out there and I decided that I wanted to try stand up. The only practical place to do that was the UK so I moved home and started. Since then I’ve played all over the UK and started using music in my act too. I slowed down on the stand up front for a year or two but I’m amping it back up again now which is exciting. Sadly real life can get in the way sometimes.
2. You are a member of the Discount Comedy Checkout, tell me more about this.
DCC are primarily an improv group. We have a few residencies (The Fenton in Leeds, The Frog And Bucket in Manchester, The Winter Gardens in Blackpool) where we run full improv shows and we’re also one of possibly only 2 improv groups to regularly appear at comedy clubs/nights all over the UK on the same bills as stand ups. We also make short films and sketches and members are involved in 2 (soon to be more) podcasts.
3. What’s been your biggest challenge as a comedian?
I can find it very difficult to motivate myself but I’m getting better at it. Knowing why I’m unmotivated is a big help. Also, trying to get people to give improv a chance. It may be the least popular form of live entertainment. I can see why. There is so much bad improv (there’s loads of bad stand up but the muck doesn’t seem to stick to that as much as with improv) out there and people who see it are so put off they won’t go near it. We tend to just carry on. We’ve changed a few minds so far. I’m sure we can change a few more.
4. People might not know about comedy etiquette, what does it mean to you?
The same as general etiquette, be cool to people. Don’t be a tosspot, understand that not everything is for/about you and give things a chance on their own merits rather than your expectations on what things ‘should’ be.
5. What’s the worst experience you have encountered on stage?
Ladies’ Night at Morley Working Men’s Club. Not as saucy or as glamorous as it sounds. It was the room where the wives of the working men play bingo and have a Bobby Darren tribute singer on. They didn’t want to see us. We got paid off and left before the sun had set. It wasn’t so bad, but at the time it felt like purgatory.
6. What s the best experience you have had in stage?
I MC’d the small, wonderful rock festival “Love Rocks” near Bournemouth. I initiated a call and response of ‘Love Rocks’ between me and the audience. That felt pretty good. Luckily for me there have been a lot of great experiences. I was the first act to get an encore at a Comedy Avengers’ gig in Plymouth. That was quite the honour.
7. Tell me about the most inappropriate time that an idea came into your head for a joke?
Usually during times of emergency or great upset. I’m fortunate enough to know many people with psychological illnesses and trauma as well as those with… let’s say poor taste in partners. There’s a lot of occasions where jokes appear. The best course is to make them. People with those experiences generally find those jokes funnier than anyone else. And they’re right.
8. What advise would you give someone thinking about starting up as a stand up?
Give it everything. Expect nothing. Be prepared to travel and be prepared to fail. The failure can sting but it can’t kill you. Try not to waste your time trying to be “the next” Stewart Lee/Bill Burr/Kevin Hart or whoever. We’ve already got one of them. Just focus on being the only you. Also, be nice. People will help you if you’re nice. And don’t waste your time comparing your own progression to anyone else’s. It’s not important.
9. What frustrates you about the comedy circuit?
Apart from the opinions of the stuck-in-the-mud of promoters and jealous standups who won’t give improv the time of day; I have few frustrations. I’d love to see some more originality but I’m part of that problem too so I can’t be too upset about it. That said, no where do we need another sneery, 20 something, white man saying that politics is a dickhead and calling religion a prick.
10. What coming up next got you Eddie?
Loads. In December there’ll be the Xmas special of my panel show, podcast, “French’s Perverted Parlour” released as well as a film related podcast so very new that it currently has no name. There is also the Discount Comedy Checkout Xmas Special on the 22nd of Dec at The Fenton in Leeds.
Next year I’ll be doing a lot more stand up as well as loads of dates with DCC and continuing the podcasts and adding to the list, I hope. Most excitingly in May (16th-20th) we’ll be running the 3rd Discount Comedy Festival at The Fenton with some fantastic acts doing 1 hour shows as well as some other, weird shows too!