Andrew Bird is undoubtedly a very funny man, and with seventeen years worth of experience on the circuit he has a wealth of fantastic material. He’s supported the likes of Rhod Gilbert, Michael McIntyre and Lee Hurst, and written for Room 101, Mock The Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Big Fat Quiz Of The Year amongst many other great tv series. The Scotsman described him as “Comedy gold…Bird’s going to be a big star, catch him close-up now”, while Time Out wrote “A great storyteller, funny, likeable and effortless” and Rob Brydon commented that he’s “Very punctual”. Here he discusses his forthcoming tour, the highs and lows of being a comedian, writing for Mock The Week and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and how he regrets downing a pint on stage when he first started performing.
Comedy To Watch: What can you tell us about your forthcoming tour?
Andrew: Well I’ve been a stand up for 17 years and this is my debut tour. I’ve never been given a big chance on TV and I haven’t got a big agent I’ve just worked hard at stand up and slowly made it happen for myself like an indie band. Some shows have already sold out so come out and prove it can be done.
CTW: You’ve supported the likes of Michael McIntyre, Rhod Gilbert and Lee Hurst, what was that like?
Andrew: And Rob Brydon! Don’t you go forgetting Mr B or this will get back to him and I will receive disciplinary action. Lee Hurst gave me the chance when I was very new purposely to push me which is the kind of thing he does for new comedians. Rhod Gilbert, my main memory was him being so good you could feel the upper level of the theatre vibrating from the laughs. Michael McIntyre’s was in arenas which took some getting used to because I’d have some usual gigs at the same time. So in Nottingham I did a gig to 40 people and within days 11,000 people. The main difference with most gigs you do a joke then there is a laugh. In an arena you do a joke, hear your own voice echo back, a pause then a laugh. You grip the mic for dear life. Rob Brydon was doing a charity event with Liam Gallagher headlining. I just mentioned I love Oasis, that was all I said. One day a letter arrived in the post. Rob got Liam Gallagher’s set list and posted it to me with a hand written letter. All of them showed me what it takes to do a show of that length night after night.
CTW: How do you feel you’ve evolved as a comedian over the years?
Andrew: Generally, as you get older you have more to moan about and feel you have the right to be annoyed about things. I don’t think you know more as you get older you just realise that no one else knows anything either so you become more comfortable with yourself. I’ve also gone from talking about things I’ve seen and heard to things I think and feel.
CTW: Is there any material that you now regret performing?
Andrew: When I first started, I used to take a pint of lager on stage and tell a story about arguing with someone whether its my drink or their drink. I would down the pint and say, “Yeah that was yours”. Then I couldn’t talk for the rest of the gig for burping. There is a comedian who reminds me of that every time I see him.
CTW: What’s the hardest thing about being a stand up comedian?
Andrew: You always feel like you’ve got stuff to do. To describe how it feels to be a comedian. If you remember at school when you had a test or exam and you know you’ve got to revise but you keep putting it off. Then you don’t feel like you’ve done enough, or you know enough. It’s that all day every day except for about 9 seconds immediately after a gig.
CTW: And what’s the best thing?
Andrew: The great thing being a stand up is just being able to have an idea about anything and being able to go and immediately work on it and see the reaction to it. That and not having a day job. Until you have children then you are a full-time parent in the day and work at night. You have two jobs and you didn’t see it coming.
CTW: You’ve written for 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Mock The Week, what were your experiences working on them?
Andrew: Those two couldn’t be more different. Mock the Week you are sent an information pack on the news stories and you write things on a laptop on your own at home and email them in. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown I did just the other day. You go sit in a room with Jon Richardson and another writer Will. And we talk about stuff together and make notes. And most importantly a very nice person brings you coffee and lunch. I would never say I write “for” Jon Richardson. I write “with” Jon Richardson. There is a huge difference. Which often involves you saying half an idea and then Jon writing a page of brilliant jokes in front of you in the space of 2 minutes.
CTW: How do you deal with hecklers? And has there ever been a heckle that really made you laugh?
Andrew: Hecklers are not a problem if you treat it like a conversation not an argument. Comedy doesn’t have to be a verbal confrontation. The audience wants you to be funny and you want you to be funny so if you all work together it should be funny. There was a gig recently in Hook Norton where the act asked a bloke in the front row what is he doing on his phone and he said “I’m just on Tinder talking to a woman whose husband is a comedian and he’s out doing a gig in Hook Norton do I want to come around?”
CTW: Apart from stand up and writing for tv, is there anything else you’d like to do comedy wise?
Andrew: Well like every other comedian breathing oxygen I’m writing a sitcom. But I have absolutely no aspirations to be an actor. I find it insulting to stand up when comedians say they just want to be in a film. Have a bit more respect for stand up, if you just want to be an actor go to drama school and get out of the way. I just want to do a national theatre tour and that is it.
CTW: What do you think the world of comedy needs more of today?
Andrew: Well the time of people earning a living just doing big clubs every weekend has gone. And in a way that is a good thing because you have to do it for yourself. And there are now different ways of doing things. People are making their own things now online and selling out shows and tours doing things themselves. Comedians are now staring their own little independent comedy nights and that’s what we need more of.
CTW: If money were no object, what would you like to create?
Andrew: If money were no object, I would create a world where money was no object. Because it seems to be the root of all evil. I’ve just realised someone has already made money no object, contactless!
CTW: What one piece of underrated comedy do you wish more people knew about?
Andrew: Bottom. I know it was massive and when Rik Mayall died it made us all realise how much he was loved. I still don’t think enough people know what a genius he was. No one has made me laugh from the depths of my gut like that man. I am negotiating with my wife what age I can let my children start watching it. I think 8?
CTW: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?
Andrew: What do you think using B-sides, the track list should have been to make the Oasis album Be Here Now the great album it could have been?
1. D’You Know What I Mean?
2. My Big Mouth
4. Stand By Me
5. Half The World Away
6. Rockin’ Chair
7. Don’t Go Away
8. Be Here Now
9. The Master Plan
10. Stay Young
11. All Around the World
Good question me! Thanks Me.