Well, famous alumnus. And, in all fairness, he was reasonably famous before we started.
I’ve been teaching Nick Wallis, Breakfast presenter for BBC Surrey, how to do standup comedy, in aid of Comic Relief for the last few weeks. Summaries of bits of our lessons can be found here, here, here, here, & here.
Having exposed himself to the hecklers and monsters of Reigate a couple of Fridays ago, last week Nick had to go and perform for a minute in front of Jo Brand, Jon Culshaw, Hugh Dennis and Emma Freud last week. He had to do actual standup in front of actual standups. You can read all the details, including how Nick felt he was going to be ‘sick on the spot,’ and watch a video of his performance here.
Teaching standup is an odd thing. One week you may be fearing for your students’ safety, the next wiping a tear from your eye as the knob gag that you helped them work up from a weak pun is rapturously received by an audience of… tens, usually.
Still, doing this with Nick has been especially gratifying. Not only has it been heartening to see him take to comedy so easily, but it’s also been a way of raising money for Comic Relief. It’s rare that a a profession so mired in (and fuelled by) cynicism and bitterness gives you an opportunity to do something so utterly wholesome.
What was particularly encouraging was the way in which the judges said that Nick was “most like an actual standup”, “comfortable”, and “so good looking”. I am going to take credit for all of those things…
My notes would be: if you’re going to do an improvised bit, Nick, make sure you’ve got a punchline to end it with, and a way of getting back to the material you’ve prepared. And, stop putting in extra words again, you’re swamping your punchlines with verbiage! But I shall berate you thoroughly for all that next time I see you.
Well done. Next stop: the Komedia on March 17th!
- The Comic Relief Crash Course In Standup Comedy: Lesson #3 (nathanieltapley.com)
- The Comic Relief Crash Course In Standup Comedy Lesson #4: Relax (nathanieltapley.com)
- Wax On, Whacks Off… (nathanieltapley.com)
- The Comic Relief Crash Course In Standup Comedy Lesson #5: Own The Stage (nathanieltapley.com)
- Brian Logan on novelty standups (guardian.co.uk)
- BBC radio stars attempt standup for Comic Relief (guardian.co.uk)