Doorstep Interview: Cal Halbert | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We caught up with comedy impressionist Cal Halbert for a little chat about comedy, being one half of a very successful double act, promoting gigs and his future plans.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from?
I’m Cal Halbert, a comedian, impressionist and one half of The Mimic Men with Alfie Joey. I co-host a monthly podcast and also run a monthly comedy club at The Chillingham in Heaton, The Chuckling Monk.  Originally from Shrewsbury, now based in the North East. Well mainly Newcastle, I don’t move house week to week around the entirity of the North East. I say mainly Newcastle, just Newcastle. Shieldfield specifically, or as I like to call it High Quayside.

What inspired you to first start doing comedy?
Truthfully I’ve always wanted to be a comedian for some unknown reason. This goes along with my impeccable ability to not hold down a job.  I much prefer making people laugh than stacking shelves, waiting on tables or fixing people’s glasses. There’s just something about being on stage that I adore; it’s probably just attention seeking.

Who/what would you say are your biggest influences?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I hugely admire Billy Connolly and Robin Williams. There is certainly something special about those two individuals. The term ‘legend’ is over used, however for these two comics, entertainers and inspirations, no other word would suffice.  Connolly with his amazing ability to bring you into a long-winded story yet be entertained from start to end with no dip at all; and Williams’ fast-paced, quick-witted, showmanship! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Billy Connolly live and I was in awe. Unfortunately never had a chance to see the late Robin Williams, but I am sure I would have the same feeling.

What can we expect when we come and see you performing?
I try and make every show different and put as many impressions as I can into my set, so there can be something for everyone. I really enjoy talking with the crowd (not so much them talking back to me) as you can meet so many interesting people; also a lot of boring buggers too!

Can you tell us what gigs you have planned in the region in the near future?
I would love to! As I said before I run a regular night entitled The Chuckling Monk presents Chilli Con Comedy at The Chillingham in Heaton. That’s on the first Thursday of every month starting at 8:30pm. I am also one half of the double act The Mimic Men with BBC Newcastle’s Alfie Joey. A fabulous comedian, impressionist, entertainer and even better person! We will hopefully be bringing our new show The Great British Take Off to Jesterval, the North East Comedy Festival. So keep your eyes peeled on our facebook, twitter and website for that.

What do you think has been your biggest achievement so far as a comic?
Probably forming The Mimic Men with Alfie and performing our first show The Imitation Games; I can honestly say it’s the only thing I have worked hard at 100% in my entire life. The Mimic Men has became mine and Alfie’s little baby, I love performing and chatting rubbish on stage alone but it’s even better with someone like Mr Joey; it must be quantity not quality!

Have there been any major challenges so far in your comedy career?
The biggest challenge for me is finding the time to sit on my own and write, something I really don’t like doing as I hate being alone (see attention seeking earlier). Everyone also has tough or bad gigs where we struggle or die, but it’s something you just have to deal with. I used to struggle with depression but comedy has become a real lifeline for that, as you never know who is in the crowd; or even what their mental or physical state is like. You could make them laugh that night (preferably anyway) and that could make their day. You never know who’s out there.

What else have you got planned for the future?
I really want to push The Mimic Men as we’re heading to a few festivals this year, Glasgow and Jesterval to name just a couple, but as I said earlier it’s really the only thing I work hard at! Only a few people are aware that I’m currently writing a book however, I’m very good at procrastination.  I’m really excited for 2017 – jumping the gun a bit of course – as along with everything else, I’m currently writing a show about Elvis Presley, my musical icon, as it will mark the 40th anniversary of his passing. Exciting times ahead!

The next installment of Cal’s Chuckling Monk night The Chillingham, Heaton on Thursday 4th February.

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