We met up with well known local comic, Danny McLoughlin for a chat about life as a hard working comedian and his thoughts on the Chester comedy scene. Interview conducted by Melanie Szalay.
“I started about 8 years ago… Alexanders was my first gig. I had always thought I could do it. When I was at uni I didnt know what job I was gonna get. I got an English literature degree, which doesnt really open up many doors. So I gave it a go, and it wasnt totally terrible. I did a few gigs and I was hooked” says Danny, the King of Chester comedy .
His first gig was at Alexander. “I knew the girl that booked it, and they were really short.She knew that I wanted to do stand up. She asked for help in setting up. I did ten minutes of material that I’d prepared. It was alright. Because I was local I localled it up and spoke a bit about Chester. It wasnt amazing.. At the time , for my first gig it wasn’t totally minging.”
He says that his comedy improved over the years. “I think I’ve got a lot better now, I hope so , its my job. I have to be good now because I’ve got no transferable job skills and I cant do anything else! I’ve been doing it 8 years, I can’t just go and work at Airbus!” Danny says that sources of material come from all around and he is “always thinking” and that is phone is full of notes:
“It’s handy now I’ve got a phone you can write stuff in. When I started my phone was pure basic, so I used to carry a little notebook around. You jot stuff down and you think “how can I make that funny?”
Of the developing Chester comedy scene, he comments that its “getting better. Alexanders has been doing it since 1991 and it was always the one gig in Chester.. The owner ran it the way he wanted to run it, which wasnt the same as every other gig in the country. Its debatable if it worked, but I always enjoyed it…
” Then I started putting little gigs together, at the Commercial Hotel, where I first met the man (@ShitChester) . Its gradually growing. Theres a few gigs. I do one at the university, Alexanders is back.. Chester Town hall. There was a time when the Laugh Inn was open, which is now the Live Rooms. That was great but it didnt really work out for various reasons… ”
His own comedy tastes are varied. ” Growing up I watched a lot of Richard Pryor. Ricky Gervais’ Animals DVD got so much play on my DVD player, Peter Kay…. With stand up, a lot of the people you might know, the big acts..once they get to a certain level they’ve gotta worry about entertaining so many people, millions of people. I prefer watching newer acts, gigs on a Wednesday where there’ll be 4 acts on a bill trying new material. Thats the kind of comedy I’m into.”
“Stand up for Chester is a gig I started at the Town hall, Its a big gig with a capacity of 400 people. Theres a gap in the market for stand up. Places like Crewe, Wrexham there is no stand up comedy there. So people could come and watch it, thats the idea . Stand up for Chester is the first Friday of each month.”
Meanwhile, Danny is compere for the new look comedy nights at Alexanders. “I’m doing the booking for that. 3 acts and a compere. That’s every Friday.”
Danny is very active, and performs all over the country. “I’m in Tiverton on Saturday. The Edinburgh festical, London, Brighton. I’ve been to Norwich. I’ve been to Southhampton and Scunthorpe. Ive been to loads of places i’ve got a Tom Tom”
On a personal level , we asked Danny if he was an archetypal “sad comic”, a Hancock, a Robin Williams or a Les Dennis ? “I have got foibles” he replies. “My new show in Edinburgh is about foibles. You have to be a bit messed up to stand on stage in front of 100s of people. That is essentially what we do : “oh please like me.. people at school didn’t like me!” I talk to some of my friends who are comics , if you knew us all , you would say there was something…” he muses. But “We’re all functional human beings, we all get on with it.. Its the same with goalkeepers, you know everyone says goalkeepers are crazy.. Crazy is a strong word, I dunno, theres definitely something awry. Its a lot of time spent on your own in a car on the M6 Its not a great time. Sometimes I get a little bit.. I spend a lot of time in my own head, its a bit weird…”
On his philosophy as a comic he says that “You might stand on stage and be the most unfunny that anyone’s ever been. People are like ”I’ve missed Eastenders for this” but at least you’ve done it. They have at least gotta give you a couple of Brownie points for that. Its always better to try. At least you’ve tried. There are some comics that try, and then they give up because they’re not very good. But at least they go back to work and say “I did a bit of stand up” Its a great buzz. I’ve said some rubbish stuff, but I’ve said some good stuff as well.” He says his family are happy with his choice of career, “I think my mum likes it because she tells her mates. I think my dad’s happy that I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”
When asked if people know him around Chester he replies “Only because I’ve got like 600 friends on facebook. I’m from Chester and I’ve lived here all my 32 years, people know who I am. People know me because of my job. Its just a job. I wouldnt be able to walk straight into Rosies!! I have to queue up like everyone else. I reckon if you were Brad Pitt you wouldnt have to queue up for Gender Blender, you’d just get in.”
Of the new venue expected to open “in the autumn” Danny is enthusiastic:
“I’m excited about the cultural centre. Can I call it the theatre? It doesn’t really run off the tongue. I think its something the city needs. What’s annoying about it, is there are things on which people may have missed just because it wasn’t in a cultural centre . Its a classic Chester thing. There are a lot of people that go “we haven’t got this, we havent got that !We haven’t got a laser quest!” Then we get a Laser quest and it has to shut because no one goes. Its very much a case of.. there it is.. “but Take me Out’s on , so I’m gonna sit and watch that , or The Jungles on!” Hopefully there will be quality stuff on.. I don’t know who is booking it. What I am interested in, who is going to be the first Panto star , I wonder who we’re gonna get ! I hope its Russ Abbot because he’s local.. or just Orville.. because he was sewn here, wasn’t he? Hopefully they will give Chester’s premium comic a shout it they want comedy, I hope they don’t just put it out to tender. It’ll be nice for touring shows if it’s 800 seats it should get some big names”
Of the city’s other great hope , the world class bus station (winter 2017) he questions, “what makes it world class? Theres always that argument in football isn’t there – is Ronaldo world class ? What makes it world class.? Does that mean that they’ve been to all the other bus stations and said “well this is international class but not world class? ”
Danny’s ambitions for the future are to continue in comedy. “I’d like to be good enough to do it forever. You don’t see many 60 year old stand ups about.. there are some, but its a tough job. I’d like to write, maybe write a novel , sitcom.. There are things you can do with contacts I’ve made, skills I’ve apparently got! My Philosophy for life? .. do something every day that scares you.. if you can’t handle me at my worst you dont deserve me at my best… I dont know really! … I would say “get loads of sleep” but I don’t. I’d like to sleep better, maybe I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’m trying to think of more clichés!!
Stand up for Chester : @ on the twitter
Alexanders comedy : http://alexanderslive.com/
Thanks to Danny, and our interviewer Melanie