Written by Joseph Santiago
We sat down with Lauren Pattison in London at The Stand comedy club to talk about stand up comedy.
What do you wish someone had told you about show business before you entered it?
I wish someone had told me that show business is a lot more admin than I expected. I swear most of my job is sending invoices, booking trains and sending increasingly pleading emails to promoter to try and get booked. And increasingly firm emails asking where my money is. The fun performing part definitely seems to take up the smallest amount of time!
Where do you get your material?
I get my material just from life. I’m a firm believer that the best comedy comes from the truth, so I tend to talk about things that have actually happened to me, or that have fired me up and then I’ll embellish these and turn them into pieces of comedy – but they always have an element of truth in them.
How often do you write material and how do you find inspiration?
I’m not one of these people who can sit down for a designated length of time and write – I never have been but I sometimes wish I was! I’m a bit too much of a scatterbrain to be able to focus. Instead I write when I have an idea – I find it much easier to write when the little creative spark has been switched on, rather than sitting and trying to force it. The more I stare at a blank page trying to think of something funny, the more likely I am to just end up having a meltdown and eating 3 packs of biscuits back to back while questioning what I’m doing with my life.
What happens if they don’t laugh?
Just keep going! It kills your soul but I think there’s nothing worse than a comic turning on the audience and having a go at them for not laughing. It just makes it even more awkward and ruins the gig for the other acts who are still waiting to come on. Saying that, if they’ve been a truly awful audience all night for everybody then I think that’s an exception to the rule. I prefer to just plod on I think audiences are like dogs and they can smell fear so I like to just try and be professional and do my time then call them every name under the sun in my head on the way home and drink enough gin to make me forget the gig happened.
How often do you perform comedy per week?
Usually at least 4 or 5 times a week which is great. I moved to London because I wanted to increase how often I gigged to help make that jump between comedian with a day job and full time comedian. I am definitely a lot closer to that goal than I was before I moved here 6 months ago.
What are you favorite comedy clubs that you perform at?
The Stand! They have 3 clubs and they’re all phenomenal. Everything about them is perfect – audiences who want to see good comedy, stellar line-ups of great comics, staff who make your whole time there an absolute joy and keep everything running as it should, incredible food and a well-stocked bar. I think Glasgow might be my favorite and I know I should be loyal to my hometown of Newcastle but I think Glasgow was the first gig out of my hometown that gave me that same electric feeling as Newcastle did. There’s also a night in London called Always Be Comedy, it’s much smaller compared to The Stand but when I did that for the first time I felt that same absolute electric atmosphere as I had done in venues twice its size. It’s small but perfectly formed and that audience were the first to make me feel properly welcomed and at home in London. All those clubs to me perfectly capture why I want to be a comedy and what comedy is all about.
When did you feel like you were a pro comedian?
It’s weird cause I still don’t feel like I am a pro because I have a day job since London is so expensive to live in. But then I look at what I’m doing and what I’ve achieved and I’m like mate – you are a professional! And I think because I don’t have a lot of self-confidence I do need to remind myself of that sometimes and when I do it is an amazing feeling. I’ve worked hard for it and it’s that lovely feeling of knowing hard work has paid off and your hobby has become your career. I feel like I became a pro when I started getting regular paid work at multiple clubs and started to do tour support for more established comics.
How did you know you wanted to be a comedian or did it just happen?
A bit of both! I liked making people laugh and I did a lot of drama so it seemed a natural segue to give comedy a go. I really enjoyed it but I never thought of it as more than a little hobby – until I started getting paid for it and getting told I was good at it, and slowly I started to realise that this could be a viable career option which was terrifying but exciting all at the same time.
Who would you say are your influences are in the comedy world?
Katherine Ryan because she is fierce and funny and god damn fabulous.
What is one of your more embarrassing memories from childhood?
I’ve spent ages trying to think of one and I can’t which means I must have very cleverly repressed them all which is good to know.
What are the most important rules you live by?
Don’t be a dick.
What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does that say about you?
I loved Harry Potter and I still do. I think that says I am a magical creature.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
The 11 am rule! Where you’re allowed to be upset about a gig or a mean review but only until 11 am the next day and then you have to move on. I think it’s a good piece of advice because it’s daft to tell people to NOT be upset if a gigs went bad or if they’ve been slated in a review. When it’s your job and you adore it and you’re so passionate about it, of course, it’s gonna bother you when it goes bad. So I think it’s nice to allow yourself to be sad or angry and get all those frustrations out but then not dwell on them for too long and let them get in the way of you mashing it the next night.
Given your feelings about the state of our culture, how do you avoid despair?
What three things you would you take with you to a deserted island?
A bottle of gin, my best mate and the third one depends on. If there’s wifi I’d want to bring Netflix with me but if there’s no wifi then that would be useless. So I’d go for a beanbag.
How to handle hecklers from the stage?
I think you have to make a decision whether to engage them or not. Some you can shut up or have a bit of fun with and move on but others will just waste your time and make the atmosphere awkward. I’m always a bit like well nah why should I give you attention? I want the attention hence why I am up here. If you want some attention too mate write a tight 5 and get a spot on the line up yourself.
Do you have a heckler story that stands out?
I do! Someone heckled my friend and the whole crowd turned on him because she had been doing great. It really wound me up so when I went on I made a dig about him in one of my jokes and the whole audience laughed. He took the bait and booed and I used that as ab opportunity to absolutely annihilate him. I’d never done anything like that before but I wanted to stand up for my friend – and make sure he didn’t heckle anyone else for the rest of the night. He shut up very quickly and I won the audience over massively. I could have said anything and they would have carried me out there like a bloody goddess.
“What advice would you give your younger self?”
Don’t wear blue eyeshadow you absolute moron it looks awful. Stop it. STOP IT. Put the blue eyeshadow down. AND THE GREEN ONE THAT IS NOT BETTER.
What would be your dream comedy lineup?
Matt Reed is my favourite MC, I’d want him to MC for definite. Damian Clark needs to be on there. And Sara Pascoe and Katherine Ryan. Oh and Bo Burnham to do like a super special guest spot. That would be dreamy. If I ever got an email saying that was the line up I was on I might self combust.
What most important lesson you learned in comedy?
You are going to die on your arse a lot so get used to it quickly.It doesn’t always mean you did bad either. Sometimes audience are dicks. So don’t beat yourself up cause it ain’t always because you were shit (but sometimes it is!)
Advice to your younger self just starting in comedy career?
Believe in yourself because you’ll meet people with twice your confidence but half your ability and if they shout louder than you they’ll get the work so bloody learn to shout about yourself and sing your own praises girl! Also, book your trains as far in advance as possible cause that’s where all your money goes. Always bring snacks for the journey cause yes you will get hungry even when you think you’ll be fine. Buy a hipflask much sooner than you did cause train gin improves all train journeys. Ditto buses.
How long do you spend developing new material?
It depends! Sometimes a joke or bit forms really naturally really quickly and then other times I spend ages picking and tweaking at a bit to make it work. I like to let stuff develop on stage and let my material grow quite naturally I really like working that way. I’ve had offhand singular jokes turn into 20-minute bits just by letting them develop on stage.
What’s your drink of choice?
Gin and vimto is an underrated combination and it is beautiful. Ginto.
Greatest cartoon of all time?
Futurama. Apart from I had the PS2 game when I was little and it was really bloody hard.
Let’s say you could live the life of any animal in the wilderness for one day: What would it be?
I’d wanna be a dog. I dunno if that classes as wilderness but I just can’t think of anything better than someone petting my head and giving me treats all day.
So the stereotype of comedians being horribly depressed and neurotic is true?
Not for everybody! I think I’m a bit neurotic, though. Like I come off stage on a high and then I’ll get a 3-hour train back or go back to my hotel and suddenly you’re like hang on where are all the people why is nobody laughing at everything I say and then the adrenaline wears off and I get really down! And then someone will ring and ask how my day was and I’ll be like LEAVE ME ALONE YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER THAT IS MY LIFE. Then I have a nap and or some food and I’m fine again.
Do you ever get tired of being a comedian?
I get tired of juggling 2 jobs but not of being a comedian. All I want is to be a comedian! It’s the best job in the world and I feel so lucky to be able to do it I’d never take it for granted.
So at the end of your day, what’s your ultimate goal?
To make a comfortable living from comedy and own at least 1 dog.
What would you say troubles you the most about the world today?
That some of the people who use the comments section on the internet are allowed to breed.