Published on November 23rd, 2011 | by Amanda0
The Comedy Interview: Christian Talbot
Christian Talbot is a Dublin born comedian who deserted us to move to Northern Ireland in 1991, though he did move to go to University, so I think we can forgive him can’t we? He recently celebrated his one year anniversary in comedy,. I caught up with him to talk all things comedy related and balancing family life with comedy and a full time job.
So Christian, a year doing stand-up. How does that feel?
It feels great. In some ways it’s gone very quickly and in others it feels like a long time. Looking back on the video of my first set, I can see I’ve come a long way. I wince when I think about some of the things I said, but it’s all a learning process. I’ve achieved a lot more than I thought I would. I’m proud of myself for being able to do as many gigs as I have and still keep things like family and a job relatively happy. And I’m happy that promoters think I’m good enough to give gigs to. I’ve still a huge amount to learn though.
What made you want to get into Comedy in the 1st place?
It’s something that I thought I’d always like to do but I just never had the nerve. A few years ago, I started going to Burlesque and Cabaret shows in Dublin and made a lot of good friends. I thought then would be the chance to give it a try, so with their encouragement I did a 10 minute set at the Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club in August 2009 and it went ok. After that I tried hosting a few of those shows but it took me until November of last year to get back up and do proper stand-up at the Shazwanda Show in the Dragon Bar. The reaction to that was very good so it encouraged me to try and get more gigs.
So do you find the audiences different then? As in those that go to a burlesque show and those that goes to a stand-up show? Is it more difficult at a stand-up show?
It’s actually a lot more difficult to do stand-up at a Burlesque gig, at least in my style of stand-up. A cabaret/burlesque audience is expecting certain things from a show and stand-up, unless it’s in a music hall style, isn’t really what they want. They want to see beautiful, graceful performers so when the comedian comes on, they usually go to the bar or the loo. It can work sometimes, but it’s a gamble. A gig at a comedy club is usually a lot better as the audience is there to laugh. They’re there specifically to watch a comedian.
What’s been the highlight of the year for you?
There have been a lot of them. I got to do my first proper support gig for Danny Dowling in Newry a few weeks ago for example. There are two gigs that stand out. In May I did a spot at a dark cabaret show in the Sugar Club called “The League of Decadent Bastards” where I ranted for 7 minutes about the lack of decadence during the recession. I really thought I was going to die on stage, but it went the other way. It was a big crowd (about 250 people) and I managed to get them all laughing and cheering.
I did another gig in the Lucan Comedy Cavern in July where for the first time, I felt vaguely confident about going on stage and that my material would be funny. The venue was packed and I got laughs all the way through. At one point I got a round of applause on a punchline. I didn’t know what to do. It was a great feeling and since that gig, I’ve been a lot more comfortable on stage.
What comedian would you say you are most like? As in who would you style yourself on?
I’m not sure who I’m like really. I haven’t consciously tried to style myself on anyone else. There are comedians who I admire greatly like Dylan Moran, Stewart Lee, Doug Stanhope and Johnny Vegas. There are bits and pieces from each of them that I’m influenced by but I don’t think I’m like them. Of the Irish comedians at the moment, I really like Robbie Bonham and Jarlath Regan. There’s a comedian from Longford called Conor Neville who is only just starting out but I think is amazing. He cracks me up.
So how do you road test your material?
I literally road test it in the car by telling my wife the ideas I’ve come up with. She’s a good judge of what’s funny. In fact most people think she’s funnier than I am.
I also try out new material by slotting in new bits with stuff I know works already. That way I don’t let the audience down completely if it doesn’t work. There are a few gigs like the Battle of the Axe in the Ha’penny Inn where it’s good to try out new stuff or at Graeme Watson’s Big Laughs gigs in the Pavilion Bar in Belfast. The Pav can be a tough gig so it’s a good measure. Recently Peter O’Byrne from the Bankers gave me the advice to take more chances on stage. It’s something I’ve tried to take on board and it’s encouraging to know that there are promoters who want to see the acts take that approach.
More chances in the form of testing more material? Or being ‘close to the edge’? That’s something I wanted to ask about too. How easy is it to get away with that style of comedy?•
I think it’s a bit of both. As in not being afraid to try stuff you think might not work. You can never tell with an audience. There are bits I’ve written and expected a laugh in one place but not got one and then got a laugh with what I thought was a weaker joke. Someone once told me that if you try a bit three times and it doesn’t get a laugh, it’s not funny. If you try it three times and you get a laugh once, keep it, it’s funny. A lot just depends on the audience on the night, the venue etc.
What I think Peter meant in my case, was not being afraid to take chances with the audience. In some cases, let a line hang and give the audience time to get the joke instead of adding more lines to explain it. It’s more rewarding for them if they get it themselves. It’s having the courage to give them time to do that. It’s also about engaging with the audience more. I tend to write all my material beforehand and not go off on tangents on the spot. I’m trying to do that more as my confidence builds. Having said that, I like having well written material I can rely on.
Is it difficult to balance family life, a full time job and being a comedian? Where do you find the time?
It is difficult to balance family life and doing gigs. Luckily I have a very understanding wife and daughter who support what I’m doing. I know they’re both proud of me. Both were the subject of a lot of my early material so I’ve a lot to thank them for. My daughter Kate (9) still shouts “You be funny” as I’m leaving the house for gigs.
Where is your favourite venue to date?
I have a soft spot for The La Banca Comedy Club in Lucan, the Ha’penny Bridge Inn and the Bankers because the audiences are usually great, but I get most excited about venues I haven’t played yet. There’s a few I’d like to have done before the end of the year so fingers crossed.
What are your plans for the future?
My future plans are just to keep going as I am and see where it brings me. I treat it as an interesting hobby at the moment. There are certain gigs I’d like to do and comedians I’d like gig with. At some stage I’d love to headline somewhere, but that may be a while off. A trip to the Edinburgh festival would be great next year too
So Christian, its random question time and the one I have for you is…..if you could be anyone for a day who would it be and why?
I would love to be Michael McIntyre’s wife so I could spend all day refusing him sex and making fun of him!
So there you have it, we have learned that Christian has a soft spot for the cabaret/burlesque scene and that he clearly doesn’t like Michael McIntyre very much! You can catch Christian in action on Saturday 26th Novemeber in the League of Decandent Bastards at the Sugar Club which promises to be a night of Burlesque/cabaret/comedy fun!
Check out Christians website for more details of upcoming gigs: http://www.trappedinnorthernireland.com
Or befriend him on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/talbotchristian