Why stand-up is all about comic timing and hard work

It is one of the most challenging artforms for a performer '“ here Theatre correspondent Nick Ahad reflects on his recent foray in stand-up comedy.

Nick Ahad has recently tried his hand at stand-up.
Nick Ahad has recently tried his hand at stand-up.

I’ve charted in these pages my recent journey into stand-up comedy and now I share with you more news.

Stand-up comedy, in case you didn’t know, is seriously hard – hardest thing I’ve ever done. It makes me more nervous than I have ever been, every time I get on stage I am terrified and I can’t stop shaking for about ten minutes after I come off. My first gig in June was a month after I interviewed Sir Patrick Stewart on stage in Huddersfield. I barely flinched stepping out to introduce and interview Sir Patrick in front of 1,000 people; and nearly vomited the first time I stepped up to perform comedy to a fraction of that number.

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My nerves were so bad after gig number one I genuinely thought I would never do it again. My comedy teacher challenged me to do 20 gigs and then decide if stand-up was or wasn’t for me. I took on the challenge. I started looking for gigs. Before I go any further, I need to explain that I’ve found myself in a bit of bother with the comedy community already, thanks to an article I wrote in another newspaper. So I say this with the utmost respect to the people who run the industry: it is seriously difficult to get a break and not all the gatekeepers are as welcoming to newbies as others.

Emails went unanswered, calls unreturned. I couldn’t get a thing, not a sausage. I promised my guru I would get 20 gigs before making any sort of decision on my stand-up future, but how to get those first 20? If I was to stand any chance of getting anywhere near the threshold, I was going to have to up my begging game.

Well, either that or start my own comedy night, I thought after meeting Keighley comedian Melanie Judson who has set up her own nights. Wait a minute. Start my own comedy night. That was the eureka thought I had while pondering my predicament one morning after waking to a still empty email inbox. When it comes to pursuing creative endeavours, I’ve never really asked for permission. Make the work and ‘carpe the diem’ has always been my slightly confused motto.

So the main reason for this article is to tell you about a new comedy night, run by myself and Melanie, in the hope that you will come and support it. There are lots of brilliant comedy nights already in Yorkshire: a weekly night on a Tuesday at Verve in Leeds, Kill For A Seat is run by Silky, one of the nicest people I’ve come across in comedy. Ross Brierley runs the Not So Late Show with comedy partner Josh, Anthony J Brown runs wonderful nights in Huddersfield and Sheffield and Toby Young is the godfather of the scene around Leeds, with professional nights all over. In Sheffield, Toby Foster is untouchable and there are myriad other events across the region. Live comedy is such a great thing to support because the audience is such a key part of the exchange: it doesn’t really happen without them. And maybe, if you’re around Saltaire next week, you might be up for trying out a new night. Salty Laffs will be at Tallulah’s Wine Bar in Saltaire the first Thursday of every month starting on October 4, 7pm. Maybe see you there?

Tickets at the bar or on 01274 583458.