The audience hasn't changed – it's just got bigger

Mick Miller on how comedy has grown over his career

I think comedy has come along way in the last 30 years and that’s a really good thing.  My generation had our grounding at holiday camps, I was a Blue Coat and other comics like Roy Hudd, Des O’Connor and Jimmy Tarbuck were all Red Coats. Nowadays it’s so different - open mike nights are the training ground for young comedians.  

I admire the new guys who are working these days so much; it isn’t easy to get up and do it. I see them up at Edinburgh, they put money into their own act, hiring rooms and travelling around – you wouldn’t have had that in my day. Of the current group of comedians I like Johnny Vegas, Lee Mack and Steve Shanyaski, – I’ve performed with them before so it’s always nice to see the lads. I’m also a fan of Sean Lock, Kevin Bridges, Andrew Maxwell, Peter Slater and Harry Hill.

The audiences haven’t really changed, it’s the same audiences, they’ve just got a lot bigger. When I was coming up it was me, Jimmy Cricket, Roy Walker and Jim Bowen and I guess the big acts were Jasper Carrott and Billy Connolly.

The biggest theatres were about 3,000 but I saw comedy really change and become a bigger draw when people like Lee Evans came along. I saw him in a club in Blackpool about 20 years ago in a talent competition and then he was selling out huge arenas.

It was Lee and Eddie Izzard and even John Bishop that really changed things as the new wave of comedians and became superstars; and of course Peter Kay is on another level.

There is so much of it on the telly now - you go on Live At The Apollo and Mock The Week and then you’ve got yourself a tour together, I like the way it’s happening, it’s really good for comedy, you get more of a chance now.

People are a lot more open minded nowadays so you can get away with a lot more and with all of the shows on telly you get greater exposure. When I got offered the role in Ideal it gave me a new lease of life for comedy and helped revitalize me.

I do a lot of army shows and have played in the Falklands, Iraq and Bosnia and play a lot on cruise ships which gives me the chance to see the world; I’ve been to Rio, Borneo, Mumbai and Dubai. But it’s that role in Ideal that’s got me playing venues as a headliner where before hand I would have been the support act.

Comedy is in great shape and I can only see things getting better.

Published: 11 Sep 2012

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