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Comics have last laugh as spotlight shines on them
COMEDY is enjoying a real moment in the spotlight. With top comics performing in arenas normally the stomping ground of rock stars and sportsmen and women, television saturated with stand-ups and with it even getting its own version of X Factor with ITV’s Show Me the Funny, the genre has never been bigger.
South Essex has proved itself no exception to the trend with new comedy clubs springing up all over the area.
Two of the most successful have been the Laughing Pod, which takes place in the distinct pod-shaped venue at South Essex College, and Three Flying Ducks at the Ship in Old Leigh.
The latter, the more recent of the two clubs, has already established itself as the place to go for high-calibre, boutiquey comedy and past sell-outs have included Phil Cornwell, Michael Smiley and Steve Gribbin.
Tomorrow they’ll welcome Perrier Award-winning Nick Revell, well-known for radio shows the Million Pound Radio Show, the Sunday Format and the Nick Revell Show.
While Nick was busy writing for comedians such as Jasper Carrott, Andi Osho, who’s at the Laughter Pod tomorrow night, was taking notes. The actor-turned-comic cites Carrott as one of her inspirations as a youngster.
Nick’s first gig was sprinkled with stardust, although he didn’t know it at the time.
He says: “The others on the bill were people like Nigel Planer, Adrian Edmonson and Rick Mayall. They were not really well-known names then, they’d been going for about a year, it was before the Young Ones and things like that on TV.
“It was a very exciting atmosphere and I wanted to try this. I decided I wanted to work on being a stand-up and that’s where I put most of my energy for the next ten to 12 years.”
Nick stopped performing in 1992 and devoted his talents solely to writing for a long time before taking up performing once more, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
He admits: “You kind of miss it because there’s nothing quite like doing stand-up.
“But if you leave it for two years, you feel rusty and the longer you leave it the more frightening it is.
“I made myself do it after ten years and it was kind of like being a beginner again, but then you gradually re-learn it.”
Although Nick says it’s a real kick to watch others perform your material, and a thrilling challenge to get into their personas and write from their point of view, nothing quite matches up to your own live stand-up.
He says: “I think it’s because you never quite know what’s going to happen. You never quite know how it’s going to go in any gig.
“There’s an excitement when when the audience really bond together. There’s nothing quite like it because it can never be recreated, every gig is a bit different.”
Meanwhile, Andi, who is looking forward to her stint in Southend tomorrow, says: “Comedy was something I did since I was a teenager. Eddie Murphy was a big deal at that age and comedians like Jasper Carrott and Victoria Wood, they were the ones on TV.
“Then there were people like Jack Dee and Alan Davies. I didn’t think it was a real job. It never occurred to me I could do it.”
But following a promising career in acting, which saw stints on Casualty and EastEnders as well as high-profile theatre roles, she decided to turn to stand-up full-time. “I was doing all right,” she says. “But I thought, you know what, I want to do something that I can say is mine.
“I thought the actors who were successful all had a little something extra they could do which was theirs and I thought comedy could be mine. But then it just took off.”
Andi has no regrets about the career change. She’s appeared on panel shows including Mock the Week and Ask Rhod Gilbert and she says she enjoys having complete control over her own performances.
She says: “If it goes wrong when you’re doing someone else’s production you can just go, ‘oh the writer, oh the producer, he’s not very good’.”
“If it goes wrong when you’re doing stand-up it’s your fault. But when it goes brilliantly it’s all your work.”
Andi’s just finished running her Edinburgh show, All the Single Ladies, which saw her go on a date with an audience member after each show.
“It was about dating and relationships,” she explains.
“It was interesting, fun sometimes, mainly a bit weird.
“I didn’t think I would meet the man of my dreams, but most of the guys who put themselves forward were either a lot older and usually divorced or gay.”
She won’t be trying it in Southend, but she will be showcasing her comedic talent with her circuit set.
Tomorrow Nick Revell with support from Richard Sandling Three Flying Ducks, The Ship, New Road, Old Leigh 8pm, £8 advance from the Book Inn, Broadway West, Leigh, or £10 on the door Andi Osho Laughing Pod, South Essex College, Luker Road, Southend, 7pm £6 or £10 on door