Stand-Up Comedian Mike Gunn chats to The RIVER about Christmas cheer and the art of laughter by Joe Campbell


mike Gunn first started his comedic journey in 1996, at the Jacksons Lane community centre in Highgate. His first gig was performed to an audience of his peers, having attended a workshop course on stand-up comedy at the centre. As he remembers, the gig wasn’t quite the start he would have wanted: “I was heckled by a seven year old kid, he shouted out that I was rubbish and I couldn’t think of anything to say back.”

Undeterred, Mike went on to perform at more illustrious venues, such as the London Comedy Store and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. But how much did he learn from that first workshop course? Is being funny really something that can be taught?

Mike tells us that, in his experience, there are two types of comedians: there are those of the Tommy Cooper mould, who have a natural ability to make people laugh through the way that they talk and act, and then there is the more technical type of comedian, who, like Jimmy Carr for example, is able to craft a very well written joke. It would be ideal to have both qualities, and in my own experience of studying stand-up I’ve found that knowing how to construct a good joke is an important tool which allows those with a ‘natural’ ability to achieve their ambitions.

There is also a real work ethic involved in Stand-Up – an aspect that often comes to the fore when Christmas rolls in and comedians start getting booked for more corporate gigs. According to Mike, December can become a real slog for comedians. When a comedian is booked for a corporate gig they will often have a lot of strict guidelines to adhere to, restricting what they can say in an environment that is not as well suited to performing stand-up. As more alcohol flows, audiences can become less cooperative and the comedian has to concentrate on just keeping the crowd under control. Removed from his natural habitat, the comedian can lose their higher status.

So what about The RIVER and its readers? Where in SE1 would Mike recommend? One of the best places around, according to Mike, is the Waterloo Comedy Club, a great little intimate venue beneath the railway arches outside of Waterloo station. Mike has performed there very recently, and would highly recommend it for a great night out!

Visit Mike Gunn’s website, for details of tour dates and corporate gigs.


“I was heckled by a
seven year old kid,
and I couldn’t say
anything back

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