INTERVIEW: Jonny Pelham | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Comedian Jonny Pelham has been doing the rounds of late, making appearances on shows like Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week and Russell Howard’s Stand-up Special. Through these segments he has established an honest and dry humour which cumulates observations about his life and the obstacles and events that impact it. 

These national TV appearances act like the ideal synopsis of Pelham’s style. Giving him the opportunity to dive into hushed topics which feel unrepresented and taboo, his new live stand-up show, Off Limits, sees Pelham opens up about his history as a victim of sexual assault and explores the healing process and why it’s still such an outlawed subject. “I wanted to write a stand-up show, it wasn’t about making a lecture, but I did want to be addressing the issues I’ve encountered, because others will have encountered them. Seeing the routines pay off in that condensed version of my act felt like a sign that the show worked.” He says.

Depicting his own personal experiences with an art for honest storytelling, Pelham confesses: “I’ve never written a taboo joke, I never wanted to be an edgy or dark comedian. Nor was it a deliberately therapeutic or healing thing, although maybe it has given everything a sort of purpose.  I just started writing autobiographical stuff, but it became obvious that to joke about everything happening, I had to address the history behind it, so it slowly became more political that way.”

I’ve always been drawn to comedy that challenges social norms and bites back, it often finds a way to make those important discussions more accessible and human

With previous shows addressing his physical abnormalities and the way society turns towards disabled communities, Pelham is a seasoned veteran when writing hilarious, yet personal and precarious material. “Everything I’ve written feels like an organic response to my own truth. Comedy has a great tradition of tackling and diffusing tensions. When you look at the greats, you can see the pain in Richard Pryor’s act for example, you can see the experience. I’ve always been drawn to comedy that challenges social norms and bites back, it often finds a way to make those important discussions more accessible and human.”

His latest tour sees the comic provide an innately personal show, rife with stories, jokes and social commentary. As harrowing truths, confessions and observations are brought to the stage with candour and humour, Off Limits provides a poignant night of reflection, opening up a much needed discussion. “It’s having an impact, which is really special. I’ve received a lot of messages from people thanking me, and it’s great to play some part in starting a discussion, because for me there just was never a place to talk about it.”

Making its way to The Stand, Newcastle on Saturday 9th April, Pelham is no stranger to the revered club. “I was at Newcastle Uni so I was just slowly building up the ranks and The Stand always pushed me out of my comfort zone, giving me my first paid gig and later my first headline slot. I love it there. Newcastle has a crazy and surreal sense of absurdist humour, not in that weird and wanky Oxford way! Returning is gonna be super nostalgic, I can’t wait. In an ideal world, I’ll get myself to Sinners after!”

Jonny Pelham performs at The Stand, Newcastle on Saturday 9th April.

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