Arena gigs are just greedy comedians cashing in... can I have one?
Stewart Francis, Justin Moorhouse, Jarred Christmas and Mike Gunn are to hit the road, under the banner of The All-Star Stand-Up Tour. Here they answer some questions about their careers, though their answers may not always be entirely serious…
When did you first realise you were funny and did you ever think you could make a career out of it?
Stewart Francis: 'I first realised I was funny when I once made my wife laugh so hard she spit milk onto our daughter at the breakfast table. I knew that I couldn’t make a career out of it as my wife, soon after, stopped drinking milk and our daughter moved to Portugal.'
Justin Moorhouse: I was always very funny - no, my mates were always funnier than me. I realised I could make a living from it when I realised they weren’t as stupid/brave/needy as me to actually get on stage.
Jarred Christmas: 'I had an inkling when I was a teenager. I did a lot of improv comedy at school. Representing my school and playing against other schools. It was like a sport. Then when I was 18, I got dared to try stand-up. I had no idea it could be a career. But from day one I was hooked. After my first paid gig I was even more hooked.’
Mike Gunn: 'I first realised I was funny during my first fraud trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court in the late 80’s when a series of perfectly timed knob gags reduced the judge and jury to gales of laughter. I’m fairly sure this display of comedy talent helped to significantly reduce my sentence. As for a career! Are you crazy? I got in to comedy to avoid having a career in anything and so far it’s working out really well.'
What makes you laugh?
Stewart Francis: 'Donald Trump’s hair. Oh, and his policies.'
Justin Moorhouse: 'People falling over. The Two Ronnies. When my dog can’t adapt between carpeted and wooden floors.'
Jarred Christmas: ‘My family. Other comedians. Animals wearing hats. That clip of the dog who can’t catch anything.’
Mike Gunn: 'Anything out of context, inappropriate… Tit Wank, Arse Marbles or Cock Womble or Aholehole If you read that as 'a-hole,' then take a look at yourself. Aholehole is pronounced 'ah-holy-holy,' and is the name of a species of Hawaiian flagtail fish native to the central Pacific. Fanny-blower or Bum-bailiff
Have you ever had a hostile audience?
Stewart Francis: 'I once did a gig at the Dignitas Clinic. I didn’t think I’d get out alive.'
Justin Moorhouse: 'Yes. Though usually they’ve been drunkenly hostile, or Christmas party hostile or a big stupid idiotic woman from Leeds hostile. December 2003 it was all three.'
Jarred Christmas: ‘Yes. Of course. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, and the audience take it personally. I’ve only once had to escape from a gig, out the back, over a fence into a neighbouring property, through their house, into a waiting car with a police escort out of Wales. That’s what happens when you verbally slam two local gangsters in the audience.
Mike Gunn: 'Never. My smiley face and chirpy demeanour make audiences/juries love me instantly. See legal precedent set by Gunn v Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Snaresbrook Crown Court 1986 and later ratified by the European Court of Human Rights.
How do you deal with hecklers?
Stewart Francis: 'I just say to them "Mom, Dad, please go home."'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘With charm, wit and grace…try me.'
Jarred Christmas: ‘Harshly and swiftly. Even Welsh gangsters.’
Mike Gunn: 'After a barrage of witty put downs I invite them to come home with me and watch a box set of Water Colour Challenge with my Aunty Else. They never do it again.'
Who’s your personal favourite comedian/comedy hero?
Stewart Francis: 'Rula Lenska'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘Les Dawson. The Master.’
Jarred Christmas: 'So many. All the comics on The All Star Stand-Up Show. It’s going to be so awkward me asking them for autographs every day. I aim to steal their underpants too.'
Mike Gunn: 'Freddy Parrot-Face Davies.'
Has the internet been a good or bad thing for live comedy?
Stewart Francis: 'It’s bad for live comedy but a great place to sell my Toby Jugs (£39.99 + £4.50 p&p)'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘Been great, absolutely great. You can reach audiences quickly and effectively.’
Jarred Christmas: 'It’s been a good thing if you embrace it. Things change. The internet has been a big game changer. Just got to go with it.'
Mike Gunn: 'If I’m totally honest I wasn’t aware there was any comedy on the Internet. Whenever I logon, it's just porn and videos of cute cats. Perhaps I need to change my search settings.'
Do you feel the pressure to always be funny? Or can you switch off?
Stewart Francis: 'Yes, I do feel the pressure to always be funny, and no, I can’t switch it off. Even as I answer this question, my trousers are at my ankles.'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘I’m a comedian and a dad. It's my duty to always be on. In my head.’
Jarred Christmas: 'People who are naturally funny don’t need to prove it. It just happens. But yeah, I know when not to joke around. Problem is in social situations where you shouldn’t joke is when I want to joke the most.'
Mike Gunn: ‘Quite the opposite. I spend most of my time sat around the house unwashed in a torpor-like state, muttering weak puns under my breath and watching Water Colour Challenge, saving my comedy gold for the stage and the stage alone where I can emerge like a Red Admiral butterfly from a chrysalis and feel truly alive.'
Do you go to many gigs by other comedians? Which are your personal favourites?
Stewart Francis: 'I don’t go to many gigs. Hell, I haven’t even been to some of mine.'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘I love comedy. I love people who do different from me - like the one liners or the speciality acts. I tend to avoid the storytelling observation comedians because I end up spending the night thinking - damn I thought of that too but never said it.’
Jarred Christmas: 'I’m a big fan of stand up. If I get to go and see a mate doing a tour show I do it. I have a family though, and I love spending time with them. So on my nights off I’m more likely going to be reading Harry Potter to my kids than going to see a comedian.'
Mike Gunn: 'Never, I don’t like comedy.'
What’s been your career highlight to date?
Stewart Francis: 'Meeting Josh Widdicombe'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘Playing in front of 15,000 people a night for the run at the Manchester Arena for Phoenix Nights Live - we raised £5million for Comic Relief.’
Jarred Christmas: 'So many. Playing Sydney Opera House twice. Answering these questions is up there.'
Mike Gunn: ‘Performing at the London Palladium. It’s a fantastic room and the knowledge of all the greats that have walked that stage before you makes it a memorable experience.'
Intimate clubs or massive arenas – which are best for comedy?
Stewart Francis: 'I find intimate arenas best for comedy. Hard to find, but when you do.... heaven.'
Justin Moorhouse: ‘I think as long as they’re all facing the stage and wanting to be there - all good.’
Jarred Christmas: 'I’m all about the intimacy. You can get that in big theatres like on this tour. Arenas are not intimate. Would I turn an arena gig down on those grounds? No F***ing way.'
Mike Gunn: 'Intimate clubs are best for comedy. Let’s face it, arenas are just about greedy comedians making as much money as possible with the least amount of work in the shortest time with no regard for their loyal fans. It’s disgusting capitalism and represents everything that is wrong with society.'
What/where/who would be your ultimate gig?
Justin Moorhouse: ‘I’d love to do a run of gigs in my hometown of Manchester, like a week’s residency at the Opera House - that’d be perfect.’
Mike Gunn: 'Me, doing any arena gig. Tomorrow.'
• The All-Star Comedy Tour kicks off in Cardiff on May 2. Dates are here.
Published: 19 Apr 2017