Stuart Laws and the gig that never was... | Comedian recalls his most memorable gigs as his new special is released

Stuart Laws and the gig that never was...

Comedian recalls his most memorable gigs as his new special is released

Stuart Laws last night released a new stand-up special on YouTube. Produced by 800 Pound Gorilla Media,Stuart Laws Is All In is about the day his life changed forever: when he risked everything in a Las Vegas poker tournament. The show started at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, and was filmed the Machynlleth Comedy Festival in 2022 –  the first comedy special ever to be filmed at the festival. To mark the release, Laws recalls five of his most memorable gigs..

First gig

Corner of a cafe in Slough. Literal birthplace, comedy birthplace, circle of life, Hakuna Matata. It was an open mic, populated by poets, musicians and four comedians. I was awful, but two friends came and laughed supportively. It’s their fault. They did this, they created this, a veritable Two Friends’ Monster.

Worst gig

Green Man, 2010, first time gigging for Little Wander - the comedy team that do Mach and Aber Comedy Festivals as well as a whole host of brilliant TV and radio and tours.

I thought that doing a meta-deconstruction of comedy before I’d even gotten OK at doing normal comedy was a good idea. And 700 people in a tent at 7pm wanted jokes. One person yelled verbalised that with a well-timed ‘tell a fucking joke’.

Others joined in with that sentiment. Some were polite. I then spent the remaining six minutes of my set talking to a child on the front row about why the heckler was in the wrong and why I wouldn’t now tell a f-ing joke. 15 minutes up: I said goodbye and left to a chorus of boos, with some polite claps and cheers - an acknowledgment that I didn’t just burst into tears and run away.

Best gig

Green Man, 2015, first time back at the festival, fresh from a break up, an appendectomy and a bereavement. Conditions were perfect. 40 minute set for Stuart (me) this time, the longest I’d done outside of a solo show.

I’ve done better at gigs for sure, but to get that little hippy monkey off my back was a joy. To go and do 38 minutes of comedy to the same tent of 700 people and make them laugh enough that I ended by telling them what happened 5 years was a thrill.

To then ask them to not clap as I walk off stage but to boo, and to do it with as much enthusiasm they can muster felt cathartic and that I was actually alright at doing stand-up comedy.

Gig furthest from home

I did some spots in Mumbai last year after working with the incredible Abhishek Upmanyu on his specials. They were at the brilliant That Comedy Club and I had such a good time - amazing audience, brilliant line-ups.

With careful phrasing I hope I can explain why it also required more from me than any other gig I’ve done. In the UK, because of prejudice, inequality and what the industry has been for too long, I am what an audience might deem as expected, or normal for a stand-up comedian. A white cis-male with no visible disabilities.

That shouldn’t be the case but even in 2023, it does seem to be. An audience generally accepts me immediately, despite me wearing a gilet, and I can crack on with whatever I want to talk about.

Gigging in Mumbai was the first time that one element of me stood out, I felt the need to explain that. I was British, in a country invaded and pillaged by the British, I think it warranted a mention. It has taken more than 10 years of gigging for me to encounter anything even vaguely close to what a huge number of comedians experience at every single gig they do.

Gig that never happened


In Edinburgh last year I had my posters up and listings for my show Stuart Laws: Putting Zoo online. It was a new hour, it was on at my usual venue (Monkey Barrel) and it was on every day for the Edinburgh Fringe 2022. You may have heard about it: it was written about on multiple comedy websites, multiple comics tweeted or instagrammed rapturous praise for it, extra shows were booked, I even broke from tradition and told people how well it was going. Then it got shortlisted for the Comedians’ Choice Award for Best Show.

By all accounts perhaps the best-received show that I had done in nine years of stand-up hours and plays and pandemics.

The only issue was that it didn’t exist.

Not one performance of the show happened.

When a comedian asked what time it was on at I told them we sadly clashed, a friend wanted to know which room in Monkey Barrel it was on at (apparently saying ‘my usual venue’ wasn’t enough information) and I accidentally named their room at the time they were on, I posted videos of my posters with enthusiastic tweets about latest reviews and sold-out rooms.

But I didn’t have a room or a show, just a desire to see if it was possible to get nominated for an award for a show I didn’t do.

Regret nothing. Except that people will now doubt anything I ever claim to be doing in the future.

I promise I have a new comedy special out, it’s on YouTube, it can be watched, I promise.

See if Stuart Laws telling the truth about that special here.

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Published: 21 Apr 2023

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