Onto Writing Comedy Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Ian Woodrow

F WORD WARNING 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these fiction writers you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
 
Ian Woodrow
 
I got into comedy when I lived in Manchester in the early 2000s. I was a contemporary of the likes of Jason Manford and Sarah Millican. They went on to fill stadiums while I went on to live in Wakefield. I didn’t perform onstage for a while after moving here for a new job, though I did perform comedy in the virtual world of Second Life for a while, which was quite fun. Then, about four years ago I got invited to see a mate from Manchester (Tony Kinsella, aka Bolshy Bard, who was performing with Bard Company) do Jackanory one time. Halima, who runs Jackanory, got wind I’d done comedy before so asked me to do a slot at an upcoming show which I was happy to accept. Since then I’ve done Jackanory a few more times, plus a couple of benefit gigs at The Red Shed, and some other general open mic nights around Wakey. Then, just over a year ago, I started my own comedy open mic night, Jockularity, which runs at Jolly Boys Real ale Cafe in the town and is Wakefield’s only monthly comedy night. I also do a comedy cooking blog, It’s Not Big, But It Is Clever, which is another outlet for my humour (though it is a serious cooking blog with actual recipes that work), but that’s taken a bit of a back seat of late as I’ve been not writing standup material at home of an evening instead of not writing blog updates.
During the day I’m a Clinical Scientist in the NHS, so as well as being a smart arse doing comedy in my spare time, I also pretend to be a smart arse for a living. As far as comedy goes, family commitments mean I’ve no ambition, nor have I the time, to go any further afield for gigs. I may have the odd foray somewhere not too far away, like Leeds maybe in the not too distant future. Links
My comedy night, Jockularity, is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JockularityWakey/ and Twitter @JockularityWfMy cooking blog can be found here: https://swearyfood.blogspot.com/This is a flyer for Jockularity
This is me performing at the Red Shed last year as part of We Shall Overcome
The Interview 
 
1. What inspired you to  start performing comedy?
 
My wife and I bought our first house in Swinton, near Manchester, and a local pub started doing a comedy night. They had some top headline acts but also some open spots on and I thought “i could do that”. I spoke to the guy running it, a comedian and actor called Toby Hadoke, and he arranged to get me an open spot at his weekly gig called XS Malarkey, which is often voted one of the best nights in the country. I largely died on my arse (to use the comedy vernacular), but the few laughs I did get were like heroin and I was hooked.
 
2. Who introduced you to comedy?

Toby, as mentioned above, and some of the other people who ran gigs around Manchester at that time. Besides that, the standup that got on TV in the 80s and 90s was a huge influence in giving me the kind of mind that comes up with one liners and wisecracks. The earliest comedians I remember that truly spoke to me were Billy Connolly and Dave Allen. Jasper Carrot’s style of satirical material from his show in the 80s had a big effect. Jo brand I always loved, Jack Dee, Ben Elton, Alexei Sayle, Joan Rivers, the list is endless. The Newton quote about shoulders of giants rings very true, except even with that greatness to stand on, I’m still fucking severely myopic.
 
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of bigger acts?

There was a lovely camaraderie within the comedy circuit at the time. In the green room it’s quite egalitarian, so just hanging out with the bigger names was somehow calming.
 
4. What is your daily writing routine?

Dreadful. I’m incredibly lazy. I see that I’ve got a gig coming up (which mounts to the monthly open mic night I run in Wakefield at the moment) and try to produce a few minutes of topical material from recent news stories. I post one liners to Facebook when they occur to me and I try to use some of these in hammering out a routine
 
5. What motivates you to write?

It might be a bit of a cliché, but seeing what’s happening around me. The world and home political situation at the moment is so completely crazy, a lot of material  almost writes itself. In fact, there’s so much of the news that is so utterly bonkers that it wouldn’t make something like The Thick of It because it would have been deemed too ridiculous.
 
6. What is your work ethic?

Shoddy at best. I’m trying to form good habits and write more prolifically, spurred on by submitting material to radio shows like Newsjack on R4, but it’s a steep and slippery entropy slope to climb up. I’m a lazy fucker
 
7. How did the comedy you saw when you were young influence you today?

I’ve already mentioned a lot of the sort of thing that gave me my sense of humour. In terms of written work, Hitch Hikers Guide was a major milestone, showing me it was possible to use science to make people laugh. On film there was Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Carry On films, Monty Python, The Airplane series. On TV there was Fawlty Towers, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Spitting Image and of course The Young Ones.
 
8. Who of today’s comedians do you admire the most and why?

I’ll lose my seat at the table of the liberal elite if I don’t say Stewart Lee. That he keeps getting primetime work is a testament to him, and also shows it’s possible to be intellectual, funny and (relatively) popular. I don’t get out much to see stand-up, but it does seem that TV is saturated with comics on panel shows, mostly white males, and largely interchangeable. I do like Katherine Ryan, Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges and even Jimmy Carr. Armando Ianucci is also a comedy genius and I’ve got a bit of a man-crush on Adam Hills. And, yes, I realise they are, bar one, white males, but only one of them is English and one of them is disabled.
 
9. Why do you do comedy?

It’s all about the laughs. I’m not crusading to change people’s minds about issues with a finely honed knob gag about Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. Sure, they are dicks, but me saying that in a different, but more amusing, way isn’t going to change make you think differently about them.
 
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a comedian?”

I’d say, to appropriate a corporate slogan, just do it. Find a local open mic night and give it a go. I’d also say don’t do it unprepared and don’t so it drunk. Write a routine, but make sure it’s original and practice it for days, if not weeks, before the show. Don’t rattle off a barrage Hicks, Kay, Lee or (God forbid) Manning material, find your own voice.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

Well, as I said above, I’m fucking lazy. I’ve got long-standing attempts at a sitcom, a couple of novels and a few sketches that will almost certainly never see the light of day, at least not before I retire. I’m on the periphery of the Wakefield spoken word circuit (and met some utterly wonderful people as a result) and I’ve been fleetingly tempted to write some poetry, but it’s not really my style. I could turn a finely crafted piece of satirical verse on the current status of the UK political situation, or I could just call jacob Rees Mogg a wanker. I know which would get the bigger laugh.
 
 

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