We spoke to Komedia Compere, Stephen Grant, about comedy
The weekend Krater Comedy Club shows at Komedia have been called ‘the best night out in Brighton’
Since 1994, the Krater Comedy Club, held at Komedia, has become a staple of Brighton comedy lovers. Their most regular and most beloved compere, Stephen Grant, regularly wins crowds over with his stunning wit and energy before giving way to some of the top comics on the circuit to provide an evening of high quality comedy. Here’s what he had to say about life in comedy.
How did you get into comedy?
It was a New Year’s resolution in 1997. I thought it would be something I should try and I did, I loved it and then it went on from there.
Do you find yourself funny?
Yeah, I do. It’s a good question actually. There’s this kind of self loathing in comics that makes you think ‘oh they could never find themselves funny’ but actually you can’t write a joke and not find it funny.
Sometimes you’ll be doing a joke and even in the set up you’ll get a laugh and find that there’s a joke in there that you didn’t see and you’ll keep it because you get the audience’s laugh, but actually you don’t think it’s great. Yeah, you write to make yourself laugh because otherwise it doesn’t excite you.
What do you mean by that ‘self loathing’ in comics?
I mean it in the sense of the kind of depressive comics like Robin Williams and Spike Milligan. I suppose the ultimate futility of doing a job that makes other people laugh is that it makes you feel bad about yourself.
There’s no logic behind it but a lot of comics have real issues with displacing being trivial and serious which can manifest itself in fairly intricate mental issues. So the confidence is slightly offset by the self doubt which can spiral into self loathing. Thankfully with me there’s not a huge amount of that.
What kind of humour goes down best in the club? From what I’ve seen it tends to be the more controversial jokes that gets a better reaction. I saw you meet someone in the audience with the name ‘Isis’ which you played on really well.
Well if something happens organically, in the sense that there’s no way that you could plan for it, then the audience loves it, but I wouldn’t say that I deliberately go to seek out the controversial. What you’re doing with that is you’re leapfrogging the social conventions that in day to day conversation people wouldn’t be able to have.
So for example if you met someone in real life with the name ‘Isis’ you’d go ‘oh no that’s a bit of an unfortunate name,’ but then if you really probed them about the name, then that would be really out of order, but from a comedy stage it’s fine. In a way you embrace social retardation in order to entertain people.
How far can you push the audience sometimes? And what’s the most controversial joke you’ve ever done.
Well a controversial joke would be weird because that would just be poorly judged. In other words I would have done a joke that I thought was really funny but then it would have been too offensive or too upsetting and I would have come off stage and regretted it. So there’s certainly been a handful of those and I wouldn’t really want to say any of them because they were a mistake.
That said there are some brilliant and horrific jokes out there, but they tend to be told by the kinds of comics that like to cause controversy – and I don’t. I just like to be cheeky and socially unacceptable.
I’ve always noticed that. When you meet someone and go a little bit too far you always immediately apologise and wish them a good night.
Well no one should ever come away from being picked on feeling like they’ve been victimised. Brighton is the kind of place where people would complain if that happened and also the venue themselves wouldn’t be happy if I did that to people, because they’d get complaints.
That said, I don’t ever want to talk to people that want to be talked to, because they’re desperate for the attention and so they don’t react in the way that a normal person would react. They’re never funny, they’re just annoying.
Who is your favourite comedian at the moment?
‘At the moment’ is kind of a weird one because it implies that form comes in and out which it kind of does with the circuit comics, but with the more established comics they tend to keep to one level.
There are people out the like Bill Burr that people are really excited about and Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer. I still think that some of the best comedy out there is on the circuit though, because it’s untapped and raw and there are some really good ideas.
Off the top of your head, what is your favourite joke?
Oh god, well it constantly changes depending on what’s going on. It will always be something topical. At the moment it’s the fact that Tesco didn’t have any Marmite on the shelves, because they fell out with Unilever.
It goes ‘This Unilever-Tesco argument is a nightmare. I took my wife up the Marmite aisle and she was devastated. There was no Vaseline and very little comfort.’ That joke is so childish, but childish jokes are so good sometimes. I really like jokes that I wouldn’t write myself sometimes, because of course they catch me unaware.
Do you have any tips to aspiring comics?
Do as much of it as you can. Immerse yourself in comedy, but don’t just sit there watching Youtube videos of Richard Pryor, because that isn’t going to teach you how to perform – immerse yourself at club level. Go to new act nights, look at the mistakes they’re making as much as the things they’re doing right.