Joey Page found himself in quite a unique position on the day he recorded his stand up special for Nextup as Boris Johnson had just announced that everyone should “Stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel… You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues”, and so his sold out gig ended up being performed to a much smaller audience, and became a little different to the one he’d prepared. An acclaimed comedian described as “Surreal, charming and hilarious…one of comedy’s most unique and exciting new talents. This innately likeable young man has an instinct for funny” by Chortle and “Absolutely amazing” by XFM, here he talks about the recording of that show, how the lockdown has been for him, his experiences working with Noel Fielding on both Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, and how there’s now too many people in the industry meddling with acts and watering down their material.
Comedy To Watch: How would you describe your comedy to someone who wasn’t previously aware of your good self?
Joey: Like a mainstream comedian with but with a weirder brain and some lovely pastel coloured suits.
CTW: Your new stand up show was recorded just prior to the lockdown and became a very different show to the one planned due to it, can you tell us a little about how it changed?
Joey: Well I did a sound check at the venue and we had a 150 audience members confirmed, I went back home to get some of the things I needed for my stage dressing and in the meantime Boris had made the announcement telling people to go home and avoid public spaces, specifically pubs and theatres. So 22 people showed up. It’s impossible in my head at least to film a special in front of 22 people and I was heartbroken. I wanted to just go home. My wife who is also a performer reminded me that those 22 people were coming along in spite of everything and that the camera crew and technicians had all decided to make a go of it and that the show must go on. So I would forget about the recording and just make the gig great for the people that had turned up. So i incorporated Boris’ speech into the edit and I just tried to have fun. The crowd were so up for it and really carried me with their enthusiasm and it turned out so well that we decided to release it anyway. I tried to keep the show as true to what I planned as possible but it turned out to be a gig i will never forget and to be honest I reckon I am the only comedian in the world anywhere who was filming their special that night so it’s a really fascinating time capsule.
CTW: How has the lockdown been for you?
Joey: I feel like this lockdown has been like 2 separate lockdowns. At first I used it as a bootcamp, to create stuff and get fit. My wife and I had just come back from a month long road trip across America for our honeymoon where we drove from New Orleans to San Francisco so I look in the show like I had eaten my way across America, So I wanted to get really fit and also I was really strict with my time and made myself write a new 20 minute stand up set, a sitcom, start a couple of podcasts, write a film and start a weekly online chat show on Twitch. All of which I managed to make some progress on. Then when people started going back to pubs and restaurants and shops and lives and going on holiday it really demotivated me because with no real income the only place I can currently afford to go on holiday or out to eat is the park. So that was a kind of 6 week period of feeling a bit rubbish about life and not knowing when I will be able to properly go back to work makes me feel like I have had my venom or my claws taken away you know? Makes me feel like I have lost my edge or a big part of me. But now I being productive again. I have also been watching a lot of Married At First Sight Australia and Buy It Now With Brian Conley on Netflix which has been really making me happy. I also have been consuming so much music, listening to a good record is a great escape for my brain.
CTW: And do you think it will affect your comedy in the future?
Joey: It depends on a second lockdown I think which I fear is coming because people have gone mad and gone on holiday and now there’s loads of spikes- It’s madness. What did people think would happen? Zoom gigs are not the same. I cannot even get my head around gigging in a car park to the sound of people bibbing their horns. For me, the audience reaction is the key to making live comedy a magical thing and I think it will return maybe in a couple of months or if there’s another lockdown maybe 9 months. So, in the meantime I am focusing on things that I can do online that aren’t gigs like my podcasts and my Weekly chat show on twitch. It’s a couple of great ways to scratch the itch of performing and making stuff but without forcing it to fit into a carpark or a zoom call.
CTW: You appeared in both series of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, can you tell us about your experiences on the show, and what was it like working with Noel?
Joey: I owe Noel an awful lot. He’s a top bloke and really helped start my career. He was the reason I got on Nevermind the Buzzcocks but even though I did so well on there I wasn’t a good enough stand-up comedian in the clubs, and I didn’t have the technical skill to make me famous. If I had the skills I have now, then I would have but now i just have to wait for that next chance you know? I wasn’t ready back then and the comedown from not making it back then nearly made me quit but I am a much better comic for it now. Luxury comedy though that was magical. To watch Noel every day to be in the presence of such an insanely imaginative and creative artist was a dream. I would turn up every day and just learn so much and to be around that creativity was so infectious and inspiring. For a small while I felt like part of his gang and that was something that a young me was just overwhelmed by. I remember once we went to a party and I left my coat there. We went back to Noel’s and I crashed in his spare room. The next day I was like “can you lend me a fiver to get the tube back to where I left my coat and travel card and wallet”? He was like “Don’t worry about it, Lets watch a film and chillout” and he sent a taxi to pick up my stuff and bring us a Domino’s. He’s a great guy and I am so happy he’s become so successful.
CTW: What is it that you love the most about doing stand-up?
Joey: Making a room full of people laugh at you being an aggy little shit on stage is the most fun thing and the greatest feeling. Its unparalleled.
CTW: If you could change any element of the comedy world, what would it be?
Joey: I think in TV there are too many middle people- Like you see someone like John Kearns win the Edinburgh Awards and not be given their own vehicle to make exactly what they want. In the old days comedians used to be given shows and were trusted to see out their creative vision like Reeves and Mortimer or Rik Mayall or Monty Python or Harry Hill now there’s too many people meddling and watering stuff down.
CTW: If money were no object, and you could collaborate with any living comedian, what would you like to create?
Joey: I would love to make a late night live studio audience show with Reeves and Mortimer, for me they are the best in alternative comedy still. I am so jealous that they just get to make whatever they find funny. So something with them or Tim and Eric. What a dream.
CTW: What one piece of underrated comedy do you wish more people knew about?
Joey: If you have never seen Luke McQueen he is really amazing, Also a guy on instagram called Harrison Charles @Charlesonara makes really funny videos and I get him to do some stuff in my chat show. He just makes me laugh so much. Also Phil Ellis and John Kearns, Josie Long, Mawaan Rizwan are all so, so good.
CTW: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?
Joey: Oh my I don’t know? I think you covered everything pretty well. Erm. Where can people see your special? On the comedy streaming service NextUp. If you’re not already subscribed to it and you go to nextupcomedy/joeypage then you’ll get 20% off.