Nick Ahad: The magic of stand-up

Good stand-up can be a magical experience.
Good stand-up can be a magical experience.
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A couple of years ago I was presenting my BBC Radio Leeds show, when something a little unexpected happened.

Broadcast on Saturday mornings between 9am and 12pm, if you’re not familiar with my programme, I think it’s best summed up by the title we give it: Little Nick’s Big Show.

We’re closer to Tiswas than Newsnight.

I enjoy the entertainment aspect of the show, which features interviews, quizzes and general messing about all in the name of amusing listeners.

So, a couple of years back we were on air and I asked a quiz question, something mildly diverting for listeners on a Saturday morning and as I asked the question, I said, live on air: “Actually, I’ve just realised that there are a couple of answers to this question. So let’s say the answer we’re looking for is the one that’s in my head.”

My producer buzzed into my ear: “Say that again.”

Me (on air): “So there are a couple of different answers to this question and we’re looking for the answer that’s in my head.”

That was the creation of a quiz we called What’s In Nick’s Head which ran for about six months, had its own theme tune and was incredibly popular with listeners.

That’s why I love radio, the fizz and crackle of the live element can create magic (I’m not saying that What’s In Nick’s Head was Kenny Everett or Chris Morris level of creativity but then they are/were geniuses).

The fizz, crackle and fear of the live element of radio is replicated to the power of ten with live comedy.

I’ve written in these pages previously I don’t just think stand up comedy is utterly pure art, I think it connects us to something prehistoric, to a time we sat in caves and told each other stories.

Someone standing on a stage telling a story designed to elicit laughter – it’s pure magic.

Over the past month I’ve been studying comedy and learning the craft ahead of making my own stand-up debut on June 3 for a charity gig raising money for Cancer Research.

Immersing myself totally in a world that 
I’ve always hugely admired has given me a new-found respect and awe for comedians.

On stage, when you don’t have a script and you’re responding to the audience, the rush of adrenalin does some very odd things to time and space. The room expands and contracts and time both slows and speeds up, as though your five minutes on stage is being directed by Danny Boyle.

It is truly magical and now I face the question: have I learnt to be a magician? I’ll find out a week on Sunday.

In the meantime, my final plea: to sponsor me and raise money for Cancer Research go to www.justgiving/nickahad