Interview: Comedian Mike Gunn to appear at Jesterlarf Comedy Club
Gifted stand-up Mike Gunn will be bringing his winning brand of comedy to the Cambridge Junction’s Jesterlarf Comedy Club next month.
Described by the Independent on Sunday as “one of the 10 leading stand-ups in Britain... fiendishly funny and as dry as a dead man’s bones”, Mike is an original and highly entertaining comic talent, distinguished by his trademark dark humour, killer punchlines and masterful delivery.
A Time Out award-winner who has performed around the world, including in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, the Netherlands and Germany, he has appeared on the BBC’s Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and also supported Lee Mack on his UK tour.
Chatting to the Cambridge Independent from his home in North London, Mike confirms that he has performed at the Junction “many times, doing all sorts of shows there with different people, and on my own.”
He adds: “It’s one of those venues that pops up every so often. It’s a nice venue although it does look a bit like a prison wing, doesn’t it? It looks like you’re doing a gig in Porridge.”
On the bill with Mike on April 1 will be fellow stand-up Rich Wilson. “I know Rich very well,” he says. “We all know each other – all comedians live together in one big house... it’s hilarious.”
Mike notes that he’s gone from “not working at all for the last two years to suddenly being quite busy, so it’s a bit of a shock to the system.” He continues: “Lockdown was very difficult; I wasn’t eligible for any government grant or anything like that... so a lot of Netflix and I made quite a lot of online videos.
“I did a whole confessional thing about my past life, which was popular with the people that liked it – very unpopular with people that didn’t.”
Mike says that he’s been doing comedy for “25 years, probably”, noting: “I’d have to be deeply disturbed to do stand-up comedy for this long.” So what themes can we expect at his upcoming Cambridge gig? Mike, who will also soon be touring with Sean Collins and supporting Reginald D Hunter, says: “I’m not a big ‘theme’ person – I just like to do funny.
“I’m never trying to make a point, really, but I certainly will cover subjects. It’s probably the main points in life: death, sex and money – the important stuff.”
Some would say that Mike’s comedy is quite dark. “They would, yeah,” says Mike, who also runs a comedy course at The Comedy Store in London. “I think the longer you are a comedian, the darker you get, and I started off quite dark.
“I think when you start off in comedy, somebody slipping on a banana skin is funny but once you’ve been doing it for a while and seen a lot, then they have to slip on a banana skin and bash their head on something sharp on the way down for it to be funny.”
Mike notes that whenever he has an idea, he writes it down. “So that might be every day,” he explains, “and then every so often I’ll go, ‘Right, OK, I need some jokes’ and I’ll go and have a look at all the little ideas I’ve written down and then spend some time trying to make them into jokes.
“Some of them might not end up as jokes, some of them might end up as just sort of ideas, and then I’ll go and do a gig and throw in that idea in the middle somewhere and then I’ll record it and see if there’s any laugh, any recognition from the audience about the subject – and if there is, I will listen back to the recording and see exactly what I said and I’ll try and write around that.
“Then I’ll do it again and record that again until eventually I end up with a routine. It’s a slow process...”
Mike’s favourite comedian growing up was Tommy Cooper and he then got “very much into” the likes of Monty Python and Spike Milligan. “Strangely, I am completely opposite to all of those,” he observes. “I’m nothing like those people but they’re who I like.
“Now, I like Bill Bailey, Harry Hill, Daniel Kitson. I was a big fan of Sean Lock, who just died, and I like Jimmy Carr – a controversial thing to say! His joke writing is excellent. “I like Frankie Boyle – lots of people.
“To be honest the circuit’s full of really good comics that no one’s ever heard of.”