FEATURE: Get Into…Stand-Up Comedy | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Our Get Into… features seek to be your guide to the various creative and cultural worlds the North East offers up. This month stand-up comedian Si Beckwith takes us through the world of comedy. Over to you Si…

The world of stand-up comedy is one I’ve inhabited for a few years now, performing at shows up and down the country in all manner of venues, stand-up is just something I’ll just now never not do.

I guess I’ll start where I started, which is hearing my parents laughing at Dave Allen’s TV show and me being too young be allowed downstairs but being left filled with wonder. I then had a couple of Frank Skinner VHS tapes that I wore out watching again and again. I discovered Bill Hicks and I really fell in love with what comedy could be. In truth, I rarely watch Hicks now, what once sounded thought-provoking, now sounds like that one party-goer who’s dying to show how good they are at sticking it to the man. But without that one video, I don’t know if I’d have gotten swept away as quickly as I did.

If you want to start getting into comedy, GO SEE IT LIVE

Stand-up is such a unique beast. It’s rare that any performer can garner such an instant reaction as they can with live comedy; audiences either laugh or they don’t. It can be as honest and as open as you want, as silly or as intellectual, daft or dark, as long as it’s funny, no-one gives a fuck.

If you want to start getting into comedy, GO SEE IT LIVE. Go to The Stand (it’s just the most perfect place for comedy you could wish for); try Red Raw on a Wednesday, it’s three quid and you’ll get top acts alongside newbies and an always packed audience. There are nights in Heaton like The Chuckling Monk which has been going from strength to strength of late. Joby Mageean’s Mr Shindig’s at True Coffeehouse and now also at The Cumberland Arms with Hal Branson, are nights filled with the best comedy shenanigans and have been amazing gigs to perform at. You’ve also got Neil Jollie’s excellent Hilarity Bites nights which run in Darlington, Hartlepool and beyond which are often host to some of my favourite acts. Stockton has Shoe Cake Comedy Club at Musiclounge which I hosted last month, and was a top night. Dean Moore’s Halfpenny Comedy Club in Middlesbrough is a gig I’ve always had a ball at. You’ve got Ten Feet Tall Comedy running shows at ARC in Stockton and in Hartlepool with immensely strong line-ups. With Jason Cook’s shows at Wylam Brewery and The Customs House, and whichever shows I’m going to definitely feel awful for missing out (I’M SORRY!!!) we’re not short of places in the North East to go for a giggle.

The one I’ve saved a mention for is Long Live Comedy. It’s been running for over a decade and is where I (and probably most other North East comics) first performed. It’s at the space formerly known as “that room above The Dog & Parrot” that is now known as Jumpin’ Jacks. It’s free, it’s every Tuesday, and if you get the urge to want to try performing, you can usually grab a spot within a couple of weeks.

There’s no end of stand-up DVDs you can buy. Netflix has a load of comedy specials and YouTube has a host of comedians on there you can watch and get a taste for. The starting points I’d always use on there are Dave Allen’s routine on telling the time and Peacock and Gamble on Russell Howard’s Good News. It’s always going to be live where comedy thrives, as it offers an immediacy and a rawness, a chance to see immensely inventive and creative minds finding interesting ways to make you laugh. Sometimes, and when I like it most, it’s just idiots mucking about and it’s utterly majestic to watch.

Stand-up comedy has allowed me to meet some of the most interesting and fascinating people I’ve ever met. It’s also allowed me to meet some of the absolute weirdest, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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