Hi Susan. How long have you lived in Walthamstow?
8 years with time off for bad behaviour in Brighton for a year.
Tell us about the Guffaw Comedy Nights.
They are the most fun you can have in Walthamstow with your clothes on. Fact.
My pal Alaric – yes, it’s a weird welsh name but he is the most “Essex” you can get. Funny guy, we met doing open mic heats for the Daily Telegraph Stand Up Competition in 1996. I got through to the final, he didn’t and obviously I’ve never let him forget that. We had been promoting gigs in Brentwood for 15 or so years and a mutual comic friend did a play at the Rose & Crown and suggested it. She’s actually the stand-in MC when I’m off galavanting around the UK doing other gigs and complaining about the price of petrol.
A comedy night is only as good as your bills i.e. the comics you have on. Between Al and I we have over 20 years of comedy circuit knowledge under our belts so we know everyone. He’s booked them, I’ve gigged with them so we know how to put together a really strong bill. Plus having it on a Thursday helps as a lot of Thursday gigs have folded which means that a lot of really good people are available.
We seem to have found a niche audience because there’s nothing like our night happening within a 5 mile radius. The atmosphere is one of total camaraderie – “wow, this is brilliant and it’s happening here in Walthsmstow and we can just walk home instead of schlepping on the tube from the West End”.
The pub is really pleased with it. Joanna manages the entertainment and being an actress herself “gets” the whole performing thing. We ran the night under the proviso that we got our own page on the website and she promotes it through her mailing list and of course Facebook. It really makes our life easier having the pub behind us on this. We can’t thank them enough. The night is getting a really good name, the acts are blown away by how lovely the gig is. Our audiences are fantastic. It makes me really proud and as all of the acts are all really good friends of mine, it makes it a really special night for me.
What inspired you to set up comedy nights in E17?
I think I probably answered this above. There is an ulterior motive too – as I’m the regular MC it really helps my act as a whole as it loosens me up for when I’m doing other gigs. You really can’t beat MCing for training you up to be relaxed on stage.
What have you got lined up over the next few months, for the Guffaw nights and also for you in your own career as a comedian?
We’ve booked all of our acts all the way up to June and in July we’re hoping to have a mini Comedy Festival with lots of Edinburgh Previews.
We’ll close in August for one month (most gigs do this as most of the audience will be away or out drinking in the sunshine)
On 3 March we’ve got Jeff Innocent – East End geezer, extremely funny supported by Ninia Benjamin, who lives local and was in 3 Non Blondes.
April is Paul Thorne, a Comedy Store stalwart and Paul T Eyers, a fast rising star. May is Zoe Lyons, as seen on Mock The Week, and Dan Evans, brilliant act, leftfield one liners. June is Ian Cognito – born and bred E17, one not to miss. This guy will blow you away. Also Mandy Muden, a fantastic comedy magician. Plus we have newer acts in our middle section as we like to encourage newer talent.
As for me, I’m about to start writing my new Edinburgh show. It’ll be based on my massive passport photograph collection and will be called Photo Me. I’ve already been in touch with the company that owns the booth and they’ve ok’d me to use that title.
I’m also writing for the next season of The Now Show on Radio 4. I have a few fingers in a few pies but I don’t want to jinx anything by blabbing on here.
Who have been your main influences in your career?
The Young Ones blew me away when I was a teenager but I was into comedy before that. Stuff my parents watched like Billy Connelly, Dave Allen & Jasper Carrot when I was a kid. I think Lee Mack is brilliant and Kevin Bridges is an utter prodigy. He’s so young and incredibly talented. B*stard [Language! – Stowscene]
My all time favourite comic is an American called Wanda Sykes, she’s amazing. She’s also in Curb Your Enthusiams and plays David’s wife’s best mate. The one who keeps catching him being accidentally racist.
What has been the best gig you’ve ever done, and what made it special?
Hmm, probably the Leicester Comedy festival in 2009. It was just an hour of straight stand-up and was an absolute ball from the get go. Plus, because my audience were all my age, they got every single reference.
What does a great night out in E17 look like to you?
It’s usually double vision through beer goggles!
What’s the one thing that can be done to improve Walthamstow?
Open that frickin’ cinema.
Who’s your favourite band/artist/composer and why?
Wow that’s a toughie. Too many to mention – Snow Patrol, Muse, The Killers. I’m a bit of an indie chick and used to spend every single birthday at the Garage in Islington till they shut it [it’s re-opened as the Relentless Garage now – Stowscene]. That’s what this place needs – a night club with an indie night.
What’s your favourite thing about Walthamstow?
Susan Murray appears at the Guffaw Comedy Night at Ye Olde Rose & Crown on 3 March, 7 April, 5 May and 2 June.