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   Inside Out - West: Friday January 26, 2007
Jane Gilchrist
Jane Gilchrist gets them laughing in the aisles

Stand up comedy

Have you heard the one about the opera singer who had a go at stand up?

Former supermarket checkout operator Jane Gilchrist, from Clevedon, who shot to fame in 2003 when she was joint winner of the TV series Operatunity, is definitely game for a laugh.

She accepted a challenge from Inside Out West to think up, write and perform a stand up comedy routine live on stage alongside professional comedians at Jongleurs in Bristol... and all in just five days!

Her stint was to help launch this year's Comic Relief effort across the West country.

You can watch Jane's full routine here...


From opera to stand up

Jane, now a professional opera singer living in Old Sodbury with her partner Paul and their extended family of seven children, was coached by a mentor - Bristol professional stand up comedian Mark Olver.

Little and Large
Eddie Large with partner Little at the height of their careers

She was also given advice by comedy legend Eddie Large.

Jane says was petrified by the experience of standing up to deliver her gags:

"I've sung live on TV, appeared at the London Coliseum, completed a national concert tour and brought out my own CD but nothing.

"Absolutely nothing was more terrifying than standing up in front of an audience and trying to make them laugh!

"The only thing that got me through it was the knowledge that it was all for Comic Relief... oh, and a little help from my new friend Mark Olver, of course!"

So will the diva die or triumph on stage?

Inside Out unveils Jane Gilchrist's performance of her career.

Stand up tips

We offer you a few tips for fine-tuning your debut comedy performance...

Josie with Jane Gilchrist
Presenter Josie D'Arby with Jane Gilchrist at Jongleurs.

Rehearse till you look slick but not over-rehearsed. Make your performance look effortless and unforced.

Think about your image - what you're comedy persona will be, what you'll be wearing and how you will come across as a stand up performer.

Get advice from other more experienced performers and swap tips.

Check the venue beforehand - look at where you'll be entering the stage and plan how you'll make your entry.

First impressions count so capture the audience's attention as soon as you walk onto the stage.

Before anyone gets into the venue, check out the view from the audience and the sight lines from the stage. Make the most of working the stage if you plan to move around.

Make sure the sound levels and lighting are sorted out before you take to the stage.

Make a big first impression - have a strong intro planned. Don't fluff your opening lines!

Project yourself! Don't mutter or speak too quietly.

Make sure you know how to use the microphone comfortably. Check that the mike stand is adjusted correctly. Plan how you'll move around with it. Don't waste time adjusting it when you go on.

Work the audience - start with a strong intro and build up to a climax.

Gauge the audience reaction to your gags and ride with the flow of their responses - doing this is a real skill.

Don't be intimidated by the audience if they are slightly lukewarm to start off with. Keep going and don't let your rhythm drop off.

Leave the audience on a high note. Perhaps keep the very best till last.

Last but not least, make a good impression on the venue and its promoter - you might get asked back again!

Your comedy views...

What makes your laugh? What's your favourite joke?

Frankie Howerd
Comedy hero Frankie Howerd lived in Somerset

Which comedians do you find funny and why?

And have you ever tried stand up? We want to hear your experiences.

Email your comments to and we'll publish a selection of them on our website following the programme.

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