Creative Review New Music
Liverpool is a funny old place. Everyone you meet, from wherever you are will tell you the same thing; Scousers have a great sense of humour.
The funniest thing about this, is that it’s true.
Whether it’s to do with our nautical history, sailors coming in from every port with funny and unusual stories from all around the globe, or if it stems from certain governments in the past trying, unsuccessfully to bring us down, no-one would be able to tell you. Only that most true Scousers you meet with have a funny story to tell you, will be quick with a joke, or give you a fantastic one line comeback.
So, where better to have a festival of comedy then Liverpool itself. Forget the capital of culture, that was years ago, it’s more like The Capital of Comedy.
We caught up with Sam Avery, the president of the Liverpool Festival of Comedy that’s running through Liverpool most of the Autumn, to find out what makes him tick, and to ask the most important questions…
PR: How did you first get into comedy?
Sam: Well, I was on a night out while I was in university, and it was a large night… when I say large, I mean it was epic. One of those nights that start off messy and just get strange… There was a talent night on in the Unity Theatre and, don’t ask me why, but we ended up there… so I ended up on stage doing a Mick Jagger impression… I don’t even do Mick Jagger impressions… but I won, and they asked me back.
When I went back I was terrible, awful… but I got the bug
PR: Who is or was your comedy hero?
Sam: Without a doubt, without a hesitation I would tell you, every day of the week that it was Richard Prior. I had a tape, an actual cassette tape of his… well, it was mine, but it was of him… and I wore it out on my Walkman… I’d listen to it day in and day out. I loved the Eddie Murphy stuff too, but he was no Richard Prior
PR: Where is your all-time favourite venue?
Sam: I loved the Rawhide Comedy Clubs in Liverpool… There was something about standing up on that stage in the bar, right in front of a great big illuminated R…
PR: Have you ever died a death on stage? And where was your most memorable death?
Sam: It’s something that every comedian must do… somewhere, at some point every comedian has done a twenty-minute set that not one person has laughed during… It’s a right of passage. I did it many many many times when I was starting off… In fact, my very second gig, and the gig after that… and come to think of it, probably the whole first year of my career… Well, not all the year. My worst experience was in Leicester University… I can’t even talk about it now, it brings me out in goose-bumps…
PR: Where do you think are the best audiences??? Or are they the same wherever you go?
Sam: I LOVE gigging in Liverpool. I love the warmth that you get in Liverpool. Scousers warm to scousers wherever they are, so when they see one of their own on stage and doing a bit, I think you get the comradery thing.
Other than that, an audience will very seldom differ wherever you go. They either want to be entertained or they don’t… Hopefully, the former!!!
PR: Do you think Liverpool produces the best comedians?
Sam: Well, I would have to say yes to this one, as I have trained half of them… LOL. I run a stand- up comedy course on behalf of the Liverpool Comedy Festival, its been running for a few years now and I have seen some great, funny talents emerge, and seen many many great talents do the course, but go no further. Some of them have just done the course for their own benefits, and for the experience of doing a gig at the end of it.
The Liverpool sense of humour does come through, and the accent helps too. No matter where in the world you go… everyone recognises the scouse accent.
PR: What other parts of the country produces the best comedians?
Sam: I have a real soft spot for Glasgow. I have an affinity with the place. I just love gigging up there, and I love gigging with comedians from there.
PR: Where you born in Liverpool?
Sam: I was born in Ormskirk… I’m a bit of a woolyback really!!!
PR: Do you come from a family of entertainers?
Sam: No, I am the only one. Although I do believe that my brother is much funnier than I am. He’s a natural, but he won’t get up and have a go. I think that’s a shame for him, but good for me because I don’t want him showing me up!!!
PR: Outside of any family events, professionally what would you say was your proudest moment?
Sam: Defiantly getting my debut book published, Confessions of a Learner Parent. I combined two of my favourite things, my kids and comedy. The book almost wrote itself. And I was so happy that there was so much interest in it.
PR: You’re the president of the Liverpool Comedy Festival… with so many acts on in so many different venues, how do you go about organising it all?
Sam: It takes a certain mind, not everyone can do it… Hahah, no. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, a lot of organising and a awful lot of alcohol. It also helps to have a fantastic assistant, and without her help I really couldn’t have gotten half of what we are achieving in this festival done.
PR: Any prima-donnas that you want to name and shame?
Well, there’s this one fella… No, really. It’s a crazy business with a lot of crazy people. I can honestly say that in this industry, because you have to start little and work your way up, there is almost no-one who is ever thrust into the limelight on their first outings, the whole act of getting to where you are in your career is humbling. We’ve all died on stage, we’ve all wanted the stage to swallow us up whole, we’ve all wanted to cry ourselves to sleep at night with the covers up tight… This being the case you end up with a load of people who appreciate where they are in life, and are genuinely enjoying life and smashing it.
Huge cheers to Sam Avery for his time, full details on gigs for the remainder of the Liverpool Comedy Festival can be found here – https://www.liverpoolcomedyfestival.com/