London that tries to understand the problem with Comedians, this episode features Darius Davi" />London that tries to understand the problem with Comedians, this episode features Darius Davi" />

What’s Your Problem? is a podcast recorded at the Big Belly Comedy Club, where we try to figure out what’s wrong with comedians that makes them want to tell jokes on stage. 

Darius Davies is a London based standup comedian and regular co-host of the 3 Speech Podcast

Darius Davies, what’s your problem?

Many, many problems. But I think the actual problem is that ever since I was little I’ve had a kind of opposition, or confrontation, or defiance disorder.

I don’t like being told what to do. I always questioned authority, and I got into comedy because I thought that’s the business to go into if you want to question shit.

So you’re naturally a kind of guy that butts up against authority, doesn’t like being told what to do or what to think, and you saw comedy as being a way of dealing with that?

I just gotta stop here. I didn’t want to be a comedian. It wasn’t my dream. I don’t even like doing comedy. I don’t like comedy. I’m like one of those footballers who doesn’t like playing football.

The only thing I like about doing comedy is literally being onstage and this isn’t a form of therapy for me. I just think I can be funny, and I enjoy being funny. 

Was there a point in your life before comedy that you realised you’re funny? 

Before I did comedy, I was an advertising copywriter, and I got that job because I was good at writing. If I sit down and write, I’m good at it.

I don’t do that enough, I should do more, but I always had a flair for that. 

But then there’s a difference between doing comedy on stage and writing. If you read a transcript of my set, or if you read what I wrote, it doesn’t make sense, but if you watch the video it’s hilarious.

Because comedy is not like maths, it’s not one plus one equals two. Comedy is one plus one equals 17. 

When I started, I was a good writer. But it’s not all about writing. It’s about stage presence. It’s about performance. It’s about charisma. It’s about timing.

You talk about the different components of comedy, writing, performance, timing, delivery; which parts come most naturally to you? 

I would say the performance. I could always turn on charisma, and be on, and be big onstage. When I was at school, I did acting and I was quite good at that, and I could turn it on. 

I was good at writing in blog form and copywriting, but I didn’t have experience of writing comedy. There’s a difference between being able to write a funny blog and being able to write something funny that works on stage. It’s very different. 

And there are different types of writing for comedy. There are one liners, which is a very obvious scripted kind of joke, but then there’s the kind of comedy you don’t even realise it’s written because you feel as if he’s just chatting to you like he’s your mate. 

You’ll think he’s the funniest guy, but then you go back and see him a second time and he’ll do exactly the same thing, so then you realise it was written. If you analyse it, comedy can be as difficult as you want, or it can be as easy as you want.

A lot of new acts fall into that trap. They see great comedians, and don’t realise that it’s written. So they go to their first open mic without any prepared material. 

In their defence, they’re doing a shit open mic, and it’s so much easier to be funny at a Big Belly Comedy Club, or a Top Secret Comedy Club, than it is at an open mic, because you’re playing to an audience. They want comedy, they’re ready for comedy, they expect you to be funny.

At an open mic no one really wants to be there, there’s no atmosphere, and then if the first few acts are shit, the audience loses all faith. The worst thing was, I used to feel it in my soul, I’d be watching, excited that I’m going on stage, and then you see act after act just die on their arse, slowly killing the audience and sucking all the life out. So then when you get on, it doesn’t matter that you’re good because the audience has already given up on you. 

Now I could deal with that, but at that time you don’t have the experience. 

What advice do you have for new acts at that level?

Top level advice? No one cares. Just be funny. What do I mean by that? If you can be funny by going onstage and doing [makes fart sound] for 10 minutes, and the audience is pissing themselves laughing, I’m telling you every single promoter will book you over some guy who goes on there for 10 minutes with well written jokes and dies on his arse. Just be funny. However you do it, just be funny.

Here’s a technical thing you can do. Get to the point. You ever go on stage, tell a joke and it doesn’t work, then you’re telling your friend the joke and it works. Why? Because when you’re telling your friend, you don’t have the whole setup, you just say the joke. But when you’re on stage, you’ll go like

“…and I was out in the street, and then I saw a car and then the car had a light on and I overheard this woman in the car…”

and then you say that joke. Whereas when you say the joke to your friend, you don’t care about the setup or the preamble you just say the joke. You don’t even filter it because they’re your friend.

So it’s about having confidence in the material? 

You know what’s interesting, you’ll see someone who started comedy, they will be kind of shit and they will give up for years, and then they’ll come back and they will be great. Because now they know what to expect and what to do.

So sometimes you need to leave that material to percolate. It’s like it’s difficult especially when you’re new and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re going up on stage and you’re worried it’s not going to go well, the audience can sense that. But if you go on stage thinking the joke’s going to do well, it has a better chance of working. 

What kind of comedy influenced you when you were younger? What gave you the sense of humour you grew up with?

My favourite stand ups of all time will be Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Mitch Hedberg, possibly Bill Bailey, and Bill Burr. I like Flight of the Conchords. 

I think I’ve got quite a British sense of humour, that British unique look at it. But I don’t focus on myself so much, I look at it the way British people do, but looking outwards. When I started, British people didn’t like that, because it’s like, oh, he’s being mean to them, instead of being mean to himself

So I’ve got a British sense of humour with a kind of American style. I’m charmingly offensive. 

If I’m emceeing, I’ll cuss some guy, then I’ll give him a compliment, so you’re giving them a compliment with one hand and offending them pm the other hand, and they fucking love it. It’s a hard thing to do, when I started, I was trying to do that I would just be shit. 

Like, I’d insult somebody’s disability and wouldn’t even do it in a funny way. But I’ll always go to them because I think if you’re picking on everybody in the audience and you leave out the disabled guy, you’re actually picking on them by not picking them. But when I started doing it I just wasn’t good enough, so I was probably just being ableist. 

Recently I was hosting a roast battle and just chatting to the audience, and there was one guy who was deaf, and the whole crowd was like “is he really going to do this?” and I just went through him. It was so funny and he loved it. He messaged me afterwards on Instagram to say thanks for doing that.

I try to always say what I’m thinking. I think if you’re trying to say it in a different way, or I’m too scared to actually say it ,then that’s when the audience pull back, because they think you think you shouldn’t say this, but you’re still trying to say it, and now fuck you. 

Check Out Darius Davies Here!

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