As much as we all love big-name stars and acts honed to perfection by years of experience, it can be easy to forget that every act has to start somewhere. The household names playing the sell-out tours of the future are out there somewhere right now, playing unpaid gigs in student boozers and comedy club open-mic nights, and as comedy fans we have a duty to lend them as much support as we can.
I spoke to Pete Otway, this year’s winner (and, having seen him on several occasions, deservedly so) of the Frog and Bucket’s new talent competition; the Beat the Frog World Series about his techniques, ambitions and his career so far;
Hi Pete, I’ve heard that you worked behind the bar at the Frog and Bucket comedy club before becoming a comedian. Were you a fan of stand-up comedy beforehand, or did you become one while you were working there?
“I still work there a couple of nights a week. But I was doing comedy for about a year before I started there. I moved to Manchester from Liverpool after university and needed some work. A friend works in the office and said they were looking for bar staff, and it seemed like a pretty cool job. Getting to watch comedy and get paid for it. You end up learning so much without even realising.”
Are there any comedians that you’d say you most admire or model your style of comedy on?
“If I do, I don’t think it’s massively purposeful. I enjoy watching comedy but the best thing about stand up is that, unless it’s a character act or something you’re trying to do, you should just try and be as much yourself on stage.”
Where would you like your comedy career to take you? Are you aiming for huge arena standup shows, or trying your hand at sitcoms or some other form of comedy?
“I don’t think I’d say I would aim for arenas particularly. I went to watch a stand up recently at the MEN. I was sat right at the back. Without sounding too pretentious, stand up, or the kind that I do anyway, should be about a conversation and have a connection with the audience. Arena comedy seemed so impersonal. That did sound pretentious. Obviously that’s all too easy for me to say when no one is offering me an arena gig or there’s no demand for one. I enjoy writing scripts as well. It’s something I do a bit of, but stand up is where I’m at right now.”
Who do you try out new material on?
“On stage usually. There’s no way of gauging an audience response if you’re just telling it to a mate. I used to try it out on a friend. One time she pissed herself at something I said, I went on stage and told it exactly how I had and it died on its arse. It so often happens like that, just because a story is good down the pub doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work on stage.”
Do you get nervous before a show? Have you developed any tricks for dealing with it?
“Not as much as I used to, but nerves are all part of it. They’re useful as well. I like having a drink with me on stage as well.”
What has been your best comedy experience to date? And your worst?
“I’ve had a broad mix. I recently won a competition in Manchester, which was nice as it was at the Frog and Bucket. You also get opportunities doing stand up that you don’t’ see coming. I played the Isle of Wight Festival last year and ended up MCing the comedy section for the whole weekend, which was a hell of a lot of fun.”
Have you got any plans and projects for the immediate future?
“Nope. Just keep going.”
Thank you Pete Otway, and all the best for your career in future!
Originally posted on CrispyComedyCuts.com