Comedian Dominic Holland is coming to Walthamstow. He chats to Amie Mulderrig about making a living being funny, Eddie Izzard and having a very famous son.
So, what have you been doing with yourself today?
Putting off the start of writing a sit-com for BBC Radio Four. It is a vehicle for Hal Cruttenden, a mate of mine, and we are writing it together.
We’ve not seen you on the comedy circuit for a while, where have you been and what have you been doing?
Writing books, being a dad and still gigging – but not on the circuit. Events, one-man shows but less 20 minute sets.
How did you get into stand-up comedy?
Always wanted to be a comedian. I used to take my dog for a walk as a ten year old and do monologues to myself, which I hoped one day I could do for an audience.
Do you enjoy it?
I enjoy being a humourist, which I am aware sounds pretentious. I am not pretentious. By humourist, I mean a funny man for my living, be that as a stand-up, novelist, writer (my blog), sit-com writer, screenwriter – I have done all of these with varying degrees of success – and I love it. I love the fact that for more than 25 years, my entire income has come from ‘funny’ – and so I guess I must be funny – otherwise I and my kids would have all starved to death. We’re not fat though, so I guess I am only funny to a point.
What was it like having Eddie Izzard as your manager? Did he ever keep any of the better gigs for himself?
He kept them all to himself. Eddie is very selfish like this. But it was his tour and 100 per cent of the audience had come to see him – and it is no surprise to me that he is now officially the comic emperor of earth – or at least one of them. He is very talented, brave and, crucially, he is a man on a mission.
What’s the worst heckle you’ve ever had, and how did you deal with it?
There is no worst heckle, it’s a fallacy. Heckles are either done collaboratively where they are fun and augment the evening, or they are done by inadequate small people who want to hurt. These people are bullies and are a fact of life, sadly.
What has been your best experience as a comedian? And the worst?
My best experience on stage is when a new piece of material works. This is rather rare. The attrition rate for new material is high. Not much gets through and the audience are a true reflection of whether or not it is funny. The worst experience is doing some new material that doesn’t work and the circle completes.
Do you prefer being on stage, on television on the radio or writing books?
I prefer writing because I am a better writer than I am a performer. My nerves and performance skills have always constrained me, but with my writing there are no such insecurities.
How did you feel about being bumped from the Evening Standard’s Rising Star column to make way for Ewan McGregor?
A funny story that became a useful anecdote when Ewan and my son were joined together in a Hollywood movie – and as I say in my book How Tom Holland Eclipsed His Dad - the editor called it correctly all those years ago.
Tell me what it’s like having a famous film star for a son who starred in the stage production of Billy Elliot and movie Impossible.
It is surreal. That is the only way I can put it because none of what is happening to Tom has been sought or courted by us. It just happened. Recently I came home and Tom was on Skype. I heard an American accent and peered over his shoulder to see Ron Howard. Ron Howard. A director who I would love to get my scripts in front of – and here he is now, in my living room, albeit on-line, and chatting to my son. Tom got the gig by the way. He starts filming with ’Ron’ this ’fall’.
How would you describe your humour? What inspires your routines?
Demotic and honest. For everyone who has lived and tries to do their best – and succeeds and fails in proportions that are average.
Dominic Holland is at Guffaw Comedy Club, Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub, Hoe Street, Walthamstow, on Tuesday May 7. Details: 020 8509 3880, wegottickets.com/event/217318