We caught up with Stuart Laws, one of the directors of Turtle Canyon Comedy for a chat.
Hi Stuart thanks for your time today, How did Turtle Canyon Comedy come to be?
I’ve run a production company since I was 18 with two very talented friends, in 2012 I decided that my stand up career and production company should probably move closer together. So we formed Turtle Canyon Comedy to make films and sketches with all the brilliant comedians I was meeting on the circuit. Which we now do all the time, as well as making comedy specials with the likes of James Acaster, Dara O’Briain, Tom Allen, Ed Gamble, Lou Sanders, Elis James, Joel Dommett and many more. Our YouTube channel now has over three million views and get’s around 50,000 new views a week at the moment.
I was on the comedy circuit about 6 years ago as I got an itch to try it, starting off in comedy is really hard work, travelling many miles for the odd 5 min stage time. Is it still the case today?
It very much can be that, though there is a greater flexibility to make your comedy circuit what you want it to be, run your own night regularly to bring great comedians to you, develop a show for festivals, work your way up the circuit by driving miles and miles for any stage time, develop online comedy with youtube or social media. So many options now but also so many other people doing it.
What’s the best time you have had on stage?
Early on in comedy is always the most fun, it feels exciting, out of your control and you experience loads of things for the first time. Later on, the best time you have is probably a relatively cold audience getting fully on board during a solo show, knowing you had to work hard to win them over.
What’s the worst time you have had on stage?
In 1989 I was playing the innkeeper in an off-Broadway production of the nativity story and I really needed to wee the whole time so just shouted my lines and then ran off stage. I’m disappointed because I think an innkeeper who needed to wee would have dealt with that more professionally and I should have delivered a better, more authentic performance. The reviews in the morning papers were scathing.
People might not know about comedy etiquette, what does it mean to you?
I have no idea what comedy etiquette is, I’ve never heard of it as a term but if you mean for the audience: don’t interrupt, don’t get too drunk. If you mean for the comedian: don’t get too drunk, think about your material
Tell me about the most inappropriate time that an idea came into your head for a joke?
During other people’s sets, when they’ve told a joke but the set up made you think of another one so you know you can’t use it because someone else did the hard work.
Who is making waves on the circuit at the min, and why are they?
Such a great circuit at the moment, you’ve got people like Alistair Green who’s doing incredible online videos and now screening them at a cinema in London, you’ve got Tarot, a sketch group that are doing a choose your adventure style sketch show and Matt Winning who has taken his day job (climate scientist) and combined it with comedy to create an almost entirely new genre of stand up/lecture.
What gets on your nerves at the moment?
When people criticise an actor’s accent in a film like they’re a master dialect coach. Anyone who has a Nurburgring sticker on their car just to let you know that they’ll be driving aggressively at some point soon. Anyone who sits and watches the entirety of the adverts and trailers before a film and then as soon as the film starts they get up and leave to get some food/go to the toilet. Don’t know why that annoys me, it’s their life, I just can’t fathom what’s going on in their heads and why they’re living that life. I go to the cinema a lot, it happens all the time.
What tips would you give someone thinking about starting up in stand up?
Be really rich and get your parents to pay for your rent in London and have loads of contacts and friends already working in the industry. If that easily attainable bit of advice isn’t possible then do what you love, work really hard, try to do as many gigs as possible and keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it’ll make you better and it’ll teach you lessons about what works and what your comedy voice is. Make friends with comics you like but also seem like good people, don’t worry about reviews or industry or doing the right thing – be good, get better, and then even better. Also, have some sort of social media presence.
What’s coming up in 2020 for Turtle Canyon Comedy?
Content, our web series about a terrible digital content agency called Content Content will be premiering on TV in March, but you can watch it now on Turtle Canyon Comedy’s youtube channel. We have a variety of short films and web series to make, as well as some more comedy specials. For myself, I’m off on tour ( dates and tickets here ) with my stand up show. Aside from that I’ll be watching Jose Mourinho destroy Tottenham Hotspur from the inside.