Interview: Si Beckwith | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo by Ben Smith at Photography North.

Box-to-Box Comedy presents Stand Up in the Vault a new monthly comedy night featuring established stand-up performers from the North-East and some of the region’s many rising comedy stars. Their inaugural event kicks off on Saturday 5th October at The Vault in Hexham and performing on the night is headliner Seymour Mace, with support from Joby Mageean, Omar Abid, Sam Mayes. Hosting the evening in compere extraordinaire Si Beckwith, we caught up with him to find out more about himself and the night.

What made you get into comedy?
I have loved stand-up comedy for ages, me and my sister would stay up late and watch shows like The World Stands Up on The Paramount Comedy Channel, and I used to buy loads of DVDs as I was utterly engrossed in good stand-up.
I’d always written and I was gravitating more and more towards writing comedy stuff, whether in scripts or short stories or trying to put a bit of funny into reviews. That sort of cemented the idea I’d love to see if I could do stand-up. I respected it so much, I just wanted to see if I could do it and not be shit.
I don’t think I’d quite realised the joys of live comedy properly though, as I’d watched only Josie Long and Doug Stanhope (quite the opposite ends of the scale though) live. I went to a couple of open mic nights and contacted Long Live Comedy who gave me a spot. My first gig was to an audience of 8 people plus acts, I was terrible, but people were dead supportive after and it made me want to do it again, so I did. Lots.

How would you sum yourself up as a comedian?
This is always such a hard question, but a good one to think about. I honestly don’t know really. It’s a tough one. I was talking to a mate the other day, and they said I was quite a political comedian, and I was like, ‘Am I?’ It’s certainly not something I try to be, but apparently I talk about the socio-political a lot, so I’ll take that.
I also had my Get Lush show at Alphabetti Theatre reviewed by NARC, and they commented on how I talked about mental health and how we should look after it, which I was also blissfully unaware was such a big part of the show. It’s nice that the reviewer found that in the show though.
I guess if I was summing it up though, I’d just say I’m a silly boy from Hebburn trying his very hardest to make people laugh.

You’ll be hosting the Box to Box Comedy event at The Vault in Hexham in October. What skills do you need to be a good host?
Warmth. You’re the bridge between the audience and the acts, so you need to be able to bring a room together, to allow the audience to feel like we’re all in this together, when acts do well, they’re part of that, and acts smashing a gig invigorates an audience, and your job is to help facilitate that.
It’s a lot of admin too, making sure acts are sorted and happy, having an audience absolutely ready to pay attention and laugh at the right bits, and just having a room of people feel at ease. A good host sets that by being warm, in control, funny, silly, inquisitive and always happy to follow where the funny takes it.
We’re fortunate to have some bloody brilliant compères in the North East, and they exude skill and charm and it’s a joy to watch.
You also need to be able to ask people what they do for a job and what their favourite niche thing is about that job is.

You have a very good knowledge of the comedic scene. Can you tell us more about the line up of the event you are hosting?
I can indeed. Joby Mageean is a gem of a human and one of my favourite acts to watch. He has wonderful material and an infectiously joyous demeanour. Just a proper good egg. Omar Abid and Sam Mayes are both excellent new acts. Omar has a proper cutting delivery and some really sharp jokes, Sam has some really smart, self-deprecating material and is just very relatable. Seymour Mace is headlining, and he’s as good as comedy gets. Super silly, and the most unique comedian. I was doing a weekend at The Stand with him and brought
my girlfriend down to watch his set; she snorted laughing so loudly she was embarrassed for a good 10 minutes after. That’s about as solid a recommendation as I can give.

What projects have you got in the pipeline?
Loads. I’m doing my Get Lush show at The Stand early next year and taking it to a few festivals. I also want to debut a new show June next year (hopefully at Alphabetti Theatre again) so all of that is getting worked on.
I’ve been working with new comedian Ken McGuinness on a HUGE project for next year that’s firmly rooted in being working class, revolution, politics, protest and much more. It’s centred on a dramatic (but still very funny we hope) play, and there’s a lot of other stuff to run alongside it.
Me and Ken also have a smashing idea for a podcast that’ll be launched soon.
I’ve been working with Timeworks Theatre on some exciting stuff too. And getting more and more script editing work in has been fun.
This year though, it’s all lots of gigs. As well as hosting the inaugural Box To Box Comedy, I’m resident compère for Off The Wall Comedy and The Fell Comedy Club. I’ve got my night at The South Causey Inn returning in September (with a properly awesome line-up including Ben Crompton, Fran Garrity, Omar and John Gibson) with me hosting. Loads and loads of gigs up and down the country to round out the year too. I’m also hosting another of the comedy nights at Evan’s Bistro in Whitley Bay in November and the first one was really lush.
I’m still writing and recording sketches for BBC Newcastle’s Grin Up North which is immense fun.
I’m also desperate to start a band, so if anyone wants a talentless bass player to hold them back, shoot me a message!

Tickets for Stand Up in the Vault are £15 (special offer: buy 4 and get a free bottle of wine worth £15); and are available from Doors are 7.30pm and the show begins 8.30pm.


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