Our second Creative Stone feature takes a look at the creativity of comedy. Last month, Jo Bell interviewed Stone artist Emma Joustra (you can read that feature HERE). This month, ANDY MACDONALD interviews local stand-ups Danny Davies and Adam Partington…
Danny Davies’ ‘Dando’s’ open mic comedy nights have proved a surefire hit at the Swan (second Monday of the month, next one 13th April). Not only are they completely free, they boast an impressive line-up of up-and-coming comics with a diverse range of styles, with plenty of laughs guaranteed. ‘Dando’s’ was recently nominated in the category of Best Open Mic Comedy Show at the prestigious Midlands Comedy Awards, coming third.
One of the acts on Danny’s books is Adam Partington from Stone. Adam’s cheery demeanour and matey banter with the audience makes him an excellent MC as well as an extremely engaging stand-up comedian. Last year he was a finalist in both CAN Comedy’s New Act of The Year and Funhouse Comedy’s ‘Beat the Gong’ contests.
It soon becomes apparent when you meet them that the guys are great mates, bouncing off each other. Their zany rapport largely consists of the pair giving each other hilarious stick – Danny’s uncanny resemblance to Louis Theroux and Adam’s tight-fistedness being prime targets for ridicule!
Their boisterous behaviour has made for entertaining listening on their Comedy Compass show on Stoke’s 6 Towns Radio, then Stafford FM, and the daft duo threw themselves wholeheartedly into my Tiswas birthday party last year, braving the custard pies and gunge along with ALBOS’s Jamie and Kris!
First question – do you have a favourite joke?
Danny – The best joke ever I like is one of Tim Vine’s – “I rang the council and asked if I could have a skip outside my house. They said I could skip wherever I wanted.”
Adam – I like Chris Rock’s joke about naming his daughter Taken, so when she introduces herself to boys she has to say “Hi, I’m taken”.
Which comedians do you admire, both established and your friends on the comedy circuit?
Adam – Established would be George Carlin, Joe Rogan, Chris Rock, Doug Stanhope, Bill Burr, and Dave Chappelle. Closer to home, Freddie Farrell is great on the Midlands circuit, as is newcomer Josh Pugh. Chris Purchase, a Dando’s regular, is always outstanding.
Danny – Quite old now, like me, but I like watching Friends.
Adam – When you said old, I thought it was going be something in black and white from the ‘40s! I’m more into the humorous cartoons Andy, so things like South Park, Family Guy and Bojak Horseman on Netflix. That’s actually really funny!
Who are your comedy inspirations?
Adam – As I mentioned previously, people like George Carlin, Doug Stanhope, Joe Rogan. I seem to prefer American comics.
Danny – For me, Bill Hicks, another American sadly no longer with us. Denis Leary is also great. When I was growing up, in my late 20s and early 30s, it was the likes of Jack Dee and Frank Skinner. Frank’s set has evolved from basically filth to clever family-based observational humour now which I can relate to.
Adam – Yeah, as for the mainstream British comedians it’s people like Jason Manford and Frankie Boyle. Russell Brand’s stand-up is also fantastic, he’s a wizard on stage but at the moment he’s starting a revolution so he isn’t doing a lot of stand-up!
How did you get into stand-up?
Danny – My old boss and fellow comic Peter Allen rang me to tell me he was enrolling on a comedy course. It was one where you wrote material and they taught you how to perform it and he asked me if I fancied joining him. I didn’t for the first couple of weeks, then one night I went down and when I entered the room the guy running the course said “Oh, you must be Danny, you’re new, how about doing some material?” So I did a few minutes, and from that moment I was hooked… That was also when I realised how much I love the sound of my own voice! (Adam and Danny both laugh simultaneously!)
Adam – I got into it because of Danny, ironically! I went to watch Danny’s first gig, then went away and thought how this was something I’d quite like to do. Danny agreed I should give it a go, he reckoned I’d be quite good so I went on holiday to Portugal with my girlfriend, and just wrote a load of stuff and then did my first gig a few weeks after coming back.
Where was your first ever gig and how did it go?
Danny – At the end of that course I enrolled on they arranged a gig in front of about a hundred people at the Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove.
Adam – I did mine in a pub in Lichfield. It was in their back room to an audience of about six people. I got a bit drunk beforehand and forgot what I was going to say so had to read from my notes! It actually went quite well.
Danny – The Palace Theatre in Redditch. I’ve appeared there twice now and both times it’s been a really good gig. It’s really well organised.
Adam – I quite like doing the Hot Comedy Club in the centre of Liverpool and The Orford Hotel in Warrington. The Orford looks like that pub on Shameless, the Channel 4 show, and like the kind of place you go in and think someone’s going to set you on fire but it’s actually really nice!
What do you enjoy most about being up there on stage?
Adam – Being the centre of attention!
Danny (laughs) – Get away!
Adam – Ha! Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe. Obviously it’s also really nice to make people laugh.
Danny – Yeah, I like to make people laugh but I also like – and this might sound strange – the surrealism of the whole thing. I like sitting there, waiting to go on whilst asking myself why am I doing this? Then the moment comes when the MC says “Please welcome to the stage… Danny Davies!” and you kick into autopilot and make strangers laugh.
Adam – Yeah, there’s that bit when you walk to the stage, and ironically that’s the calmest you’ve been for the last three or four hours. It’s a bit like going on that Oblivion ride at Alton Towers. You’ve got this apprehension about what’s coming, and as soon as you ‘drop’, all of a sudden all the fear’s gone, all your nerves go, and you’re just enjoying the moment.
Best and worst gig?
Danny – The best gig for me, I think, was one of the two Palace Theatre gigs I mentioned earlier. Adam saw me do the second one but the first I think edges it because they billed me as being this really new amateur guy who probably wasn’t any good. The MC said “If you don’t think his stuff’s funny, just laugh anyway, make him feel welcome because he’s going to be really nervous.” Anyway, I was raring to go and I smashed it! (comedy lingo!). I loved the fact that they built me up as this massive underdog. The guy who runs the gig said after I came off that he’d have me back and pay me for the next one. So that was my best gig.
Adam – My best one was the Gong Show where I got to the final in Worcester. I did the full five minutes and didn’t get gonged off by the audience!
Danny – I hated you that night…
Adam – I don’t blame you!
Danny – No, not because you were good, I found your company horrid!
Adam – I think that one was the best I ever did, but in terms of bad ones…
Danny – I think you know what mine is!
Adam – Yeah, we both went and did another competition… It was dreadful! We went back there again, and had another bad one. I walked off after about 30 seconds, I won’t mention the venue!
Danny – That gig for me was the worst as well. There was a moment, about ten seconds in, where something in my head said “Just stop now. This isn’t funny, it’s horrid!” but I carried on for another 2 minutes and 40 seconds to glazed faces of horror!
Adam – I went up and did the same, but instead of hanging around, I just saved everybody ten minutes of torture and walked off.
Danny – It was an out of body experience really, part of you thinks stop but another part thinks no, you can recover this, but it was unrecoverable!
Adam – The patient was dead!
How do you deal with hecklers? What are the best and worst heckles you’ve ever had?
Adam – Depends on the type of heckle. Sometimes heckles can be a good thing, sometimes people just want to get involved. They can come out with something you can work with, maybe something relevant to what you’re talking about or their own experience which can provide you with a bit of content. Other times you get drunk people just shouting out random things, trying to finish the end of your gags for you, that’s the worst thing.
Danny – Horrible isn’t it, mate?
Adam – Yeah, that’s really bad. I’ve had some really bad heckles before and literally had to say on stage “Please stop this now, you’re going to ruin the show for the rest of the audience.” Once, the guy running the show actually came out with a frying pan and said to the hecklers “If you carry on I’ll hit you with this frying pan!” in a proper Pauline Fowler stylee! They soon stopped. Ha!
Danny – I spent so long dreading about the day I’d get heckled and about how I’d deal with it. Then I went to a gig and I won’t name the venue, but I went on stage already knowing it was going to be bad. We’d already seen loads of the other acts get heckled. The MC said before I went on “I’ve got no control over this room. Good luck, go for it.” I was heckled within ten seconds. I made an instant decision to attempt to interact with them rather than destroy them or plough on through my set.
I learned quite quickly from that. I now just interact with them and they then become part of what you’re doing, and I now actually enjoy it. On that occasion, and this ties in quite nicely with the best and worst heckle, I did a bit about underpants. This one guy piped up “I don’t wear underpants mate, I wear boxers.” Everyone laughed and within 30 seconds I managed to get him to do a striptease. He didn’t realise he’d gone from thinking he was the clever heckler to standing there with his trousers around his ankles and showing off his boxers!
Adam – You get a proper heckle maybe once every ten gigs. It’s something you fear a lot when you start. Other people (who don’t do comedy) always ask me how I deal with hecklers but it’s something you normally don’t have to worry about.
Danny – I did a gig in Liverpool and got heckled. They didn’t actually want to be a part of the show, they just wanted to be drunk, loud and obnoxious. It wasn’t a case of trying to make them part of the show or bring them into it, they just needed beating. That’s what happened, they got beat then they got kicked out. Like Adam said though, it doesn’t happen that often, it’s not like every time you walk on stage, the audience are baying for blood – thankfully!
How do you prepare for gigs, and what do you do to unwind afterwards?
Adam – I try and rehearse my stuff once a day. In terms of preparation, it’s a case of me and Danny going down in the car, wherever we’re heading, discussing what we’re going to do and thinking of ways to improve our sets. Then, for me, after the gig, I kind of retreat to Football Manager on my phone, I’m addicted to it! It helps take my mind off things before bed.
Danny – I don’t do a great deal of preparation. I like to be tested a bit, so I like to just turn up and throw myself in at the deep end, which can be good or bad. That awful gig I had was down to poor preparation, but most of the time it works when I just go for it. We both talk complete crap on the way to gigs, as you know, Andy! (I do know, and it’s very entertaining but mostly unprintable!) As for unwinding, I normally need about half an hour to just sit with the dog and a glass of wine – maybe stick the PlayStation on or watch a DVD. You know, just to chill out.
Adam – It’s hard to sleep after a gig because you’re buzzing, especially if it’s gone well. If it’s gone poorly, then you usually cry yourself to sleep whilst listening to Abba!
Danny – If you’ve had a bad gig, and come home thinking I haven’t done as well as I could have done, in the early days it was horrible, wasn’t it? You wake up in the morning, then remember what happened the night before! It’s like a horrible one night stand. The ugliness of it is there when you wake up. But then, as you get more and more into it, a bad gig is an inevitability regardless of whatever level you’re at. We’ve both seen people we really admire and respect have bad gigs. You can’t identify what the reason was. You assume that the likes of Jason Manford and Frank Skinner always have these wonderful, amazing gigs and everywhere they go, they’re at their best but the reality is they’ve got horrible memories of awful gigs themselves.
Adam – Micky Flanagan is a great example of someone who spent ten years at mine and Danny’s level doing small gigs in the back room of a pub before he got anywhere. Ten years he apparently spent doing what we’re doing. That’s what I tell myself when I’ve come off stage and have had a bad gig: “Mickey Flanagan did this for ten years! It’ll be alright Ad, you’ve got eight and a half to go!”
Where would you most like to do a gig?
Adam – We’re both in agreement on this, the Comedy Store in Manchester!
Danny – The Comedy Store in Manchester, yeah!
Adam – It just oozes comedy, it almost smells of comedy!
Danny – It’s not a slick venue, it’s not like the Apollo! All the walls are painted black, lots of drinkers, but it’s just so intimate. There’s nowhere to hide, the audience are there right up close. You’re on stage – which I haven’t been, but I’ve sat near the stage, and you can see every feature on every face.
Adam – Plus anybody who’s anybody in stand-up comedy in the UK has done the Comedy Store.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to try their hand at stand-up?
Danny – Well…do it! Definitely do it.
Adam – Just do it!
Danny – Some people will say go on comedy courses like the one I started, while others will say steer clear of them. Just do a little bit of research though, and find out where your local open mic night is that specialises in comedy – don’t go and do comedy at an open mic where they have guitar players and singers, cos they’re not a comedy crowd. Go along to an open mic and pick up some tips on how it’s performed. Then get on that stage!
Adam – Some people say they’re going to do it for a long time, then they kind of trick themselves into thinking they’ve already done it. If you do start, don’t shout about the fact you’re doing comedy yet! I was doing it for 3-4 months before people started to find out, so don’t shout about it, see if you like it first.
What’s the story behind the name Dando’s?
Danny – There’s a joke in my set relating to it, which I can’t go into on ALBOS! Aside from that, I decided I needed a brand for my comedy nights. Fellow comic Darren Mortiboy runs a night in Tamworth called Mortified, and the venue owner is very good with graphic design. I approached him and said I need a logo. He just came up with Dando’s, not only a pun on my name, but also a play on Nando’s (veri-veri funny!)
What are your comedy ambitions?
Adam – To get better and just keep on doing it, really. Of course it’d be great to do it for a living one day. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’d be fantastic to be one of the most established comics in the country one day, but you’ve got to sacrifice a lot to get anywhere near that though.
Danny – I’ve no aspirations either at the moment. I don’t want to be a famous comedian, or earn a living from it. For me, it’s a great hobby, and like Adam I love doing it, and I want to keep doing it, until people stop laughing! They’ve got to start laughing first! (Both laugh!)
Dando’s is Danny’s live stand up comedy service. For bookings and enquiries you can call him on 07795556961 or email him – email@example.com
The next free Dando’s stand-up comedy night is at The Swan in Stone on Monday 13th April, 8pm start.
Thanks to Costa, Stone