How I avoided the fate of becoming a very depressed school teacher | Ali Brice on his most memorable gigs © Miranda Holms

How I avoided the fate of becoming a very depressed school teacher

Ali Brice on his most memorable gigs

As he prepares to bring his latest show I Tried To Be Funny, But You Weren’t Looking to the Soho Theatre, Ali Brice shares some of the most memorable moments of his comedy career.

First gig

It was with my best friend and head honcho of the Weirdos comedy collective, Alan Larter. We met at uni and for three years talked about doing comedy. Then one day he booked us in Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms. I said, ‘Just to watch, yeah?’ He said, ‘No to perform’.

Then he wrote a sketch about us being asthma sufferers. That as much as I can remember. But it was thrilling. I went from being incredibly nervous to feeling like I was on top of the world. People laughed. I. Loved. It.

It gave me the confidence to do it on my own and I will be forever grateful for that. Thanks, Alan.

Gig that changed my life

Chortle had a hand in this. In 2014, I took my debut solo show, Eric Meat Wants To Go Shopping, to the Fringe. Chortle gave me a 4-star review. At the next performance, I noticed a person on their own and asked why they had come. They said, ‘I read the 4-star review in Chortle’. At the end of the show, that same person came up to me and said, ‘Here’s my card’. They were from a massive talent agency.

At the end of that fringe, I was going to move to Chichester and do a PGCE and quit comedy. In early September 2014, I looked at the business card in my hand and thought, ‘I may never get this opportunity again’ and went for a meeting and got my first agent. I am not with them anymore, but am with a glorious new agent.

Had Chortle not given me that review, I would not have got that business card and I would most likely be a very depressed secondary school teacher somewhere down south. So, thanks for that, Chortle. I avoided a real clanger of a decision.

Worst journey to a gig

Sketch act Loose Brie (Martin Willis and Phil Lindsey) and I drove from London to Cardiff and back in an evening to do 10 minutes each. On the way, the rear left tyre blew out. We crept over to the hard shoulder of the M4, and I took control, which I never do.

‘I got this boys’ I said as I took the spare wheel and jack out the boot. Hoisted the car up, got the wheel off, put the spare on and then tried to take the jack off. Only, I had managed to connect the jack to the brake line, and it was wedged in the end and wouldn’t come out.

So, we called the AA who took two hours to come and then told Martin, who owned the car, ‘I can’t legally let you leave with these tyres’ and made him buy four new ones. Then used a screwdriver to lever the jack off the brake line.

We continued to the gig, where I played Lemon Adrian, the owner/operator of a lemonade stand, who lost a pound coin but then found it in an egg. Laughter. It was all worth it. Phew!

Best gig as a punter

I started going to regular live comedy when I went to Kingston University. Every Monday I’d go to Maff Brown’s Outside the Box. I look back now and realise how spoilt I was. It’s the best comedy club I’ve ever been too. From super-stars (I saw the Robin Williams there), to TV stars to the cream of the comedy circuit, each week was awesome.

But one of my all-time favourite gigs was when I saw Ed Aczel for the first time. It was late 2005 or early 2006 and he must have been doing what I now know was an open spot. But the entirety of his ten-minute set I was weeping with laughter. It’s one of the funniest things I have ever seen. In fact, it’s my benchmark for comedy now that I have been doing it for over ten years and am somewhat jaded.

If someone makes me laugh as much as Ed Aczel did at that gig, I know I’ve had a good time. So far, it’s been Dr Brown, Norman Lovett and John Kearns.

Least welcome post-show comment

Sorry lads, I thought you were shite.’

Said by an older gentleman as he left The Very Best of Brice, Stephenson and Larter the debut fringe show from myself, Alan Larter and Mark Stephenson (a very funny man who no longer does comedy). At the time, it cut deep. I’d put my heart and soul into my 20 minutes of that show. However, years later I would come to the realisation that that man was correct. It still hurt, mind you. But I have got better.

Indeed, I’ve got so good, the Soho Theatre are putting my show on. Where and when can you see me? Well, details are below:

Ali Brice: I Tried To Be Funny, But You Weren’t Looking is on at Soho Theatre at 9pm on July 3 and 4. Tickets

Published: 19 Jun 2023

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.