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19 September 2014
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Advice for stand-ups

Stand up comedian Rhod Gilbert

Jon Mountague

As a producer for BBC Comedy North, Jon Mountague is constantly working with and developing new comedy talent. He works with comedy writers, performers and comedians.

Here he offers some advice for people trying to become stand-up comics. Are you the next Rhod Gilbert? (pictured)

Q1. What advice would you give a stand-up who is trying to break into the industry?

Do lots of open mic events, which are free gigs, and try to leave an impression on your audience. Try to send them home wanting more of you rather than the other acts.


Q2. Where can a stand-up get noticed in the comedy industry?

In the stand-up world quality eventually does rise to the surface. So it’s a matter of being good and performing at the big venues such as the Comedy Store where TV producers tend to hang out if they are on the look out for a new comic voice. The Edinburgh festival is a good place, although there is a lot of rubbish at the festival so you should only really go there if you are super confident about what you are selling.


Q3. What’s more important in your mind – the jokes or the delivery?

I think they are mutually dependant really, I don’t think either work without the other so you need those two things and a liberal dash of personality.


Q4. Can a stand-up ever work on TV or does it only work on live stage?

It is tricky to do comedy on TV. I think stand-up is best enjoyed if you are in the club in the heart of it. If you are watching it on TV it sometimes feels like a party you’re not invited to. I think ‘event stand-up’, like the recent ‘Jack Dee at the Apollo’ can work, but it has to feel like a specific event in my opinion.


Q5. Any stand-up acts to watch and learn from?

Bill Hicks from yesteryear and more recently Jason Manford who is a Perrier nominee are two great acts. Jason is an excellent performer who you'll see in the future. They’ve both got great jokes and excellent delivery.


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