Hi Dan and welcome to Nottingham. You’re kicking off your tour in here. How is the new show different from your previous tours?
This is music comedy show. Lots of comedy songs with regular stand-up between them. I put together some hugely talented musicians to form a proper indie-rock band. The songs are really good. They just so happen to have ridiculously silly lyrics.
So, we know you’re a talented comedy writer and performer but music? How did you come to be a musician?
Like a lot of people, I was a bedroom musician for many years. I played guitar at home and wrote songs I never had any intention of playing in public. Then slowly I started to incorporate songs into my comedy. I began to notice how popular the songs in my sitcom were so I decided to do a show that focused more on the music. The musicians are really good. I’m very lucky to have such talented people around me.
If you had to cite your musical influences, could you give us two or three of your favourites?
Hard question to answer. I like many different types of music. I guess I’m probably mostly into rock/pop/indie. The Shins; Sufjan Stevens; Joseph Arthur; Death Cab; Decemberists. That kind of thing. But I’m a huge fan of classical and electronic (not dance music but ambient stuff). I’ve always liked different things though: when I was a teen I was massively into Grunge but was also an Acid Jazz nut. I never really bought Dance music but I went to clubs and raves so listened to house and trance by default. I love folk music and even like Alt Country. The only music I’ve never really got into is Blues. It always sounds to me like it’s derivative of something else. But I’m sure if someone taught me about the genre I’d like it. Muddy Waters is cool. As far as comedy music goes I guess Tenacious D are the most influential. More than Flight of the Conchords, whom I love, or Tim Minchin.
Will we be seeing you in pop videos any time soon?
I’ve just finished recording a full album with my band. We’re about to shoot a video. So yes.
How does live performance compare to television work?
I like the craft of TV; putting in all those hours and having a product at the end, something that is tangible. However, I prefer the thrill of live work. Nothing beats the buzz of live performance. I just don’t always like the hours and being on the road.
Great to hear Don Danbury is putting in a guest appearance. How much of the real Dan Clark is there in Don?
Hmm, I get asked that a lot. The truth is I’m less like Don than people probably assume but much more similar than I care to admit.
Similar question, how much of How Not To Live Your Life was autobiographical?
Very little actually. There were things that were inspired by something I’d witnessed or experienced but dealt with like a grown up. Then after it happened I’d think, “Ooh, imagine if that happened to Don – that would’ve ended in disaster”.
How do you go about writing comedy?
I like going away. I find not being in my home or away from normal life inspires me. I get lost in the stories and characters I write. Other than that, there’s no routine. I like having a producer or script editor to help see things objectively or offer suggestions I would never have thought of. Actually the scriptwriter on How Not To Live Your Life is now a Hollywood screenwriter – working on things like Iron Man 3. I like to think he’s learned his craft on our little cult BBC3 sitcom.
At what point in your life did you decide to be a comedian?
When I was 19. You probably weren’t expecting as specific an answer as that. I remember because I took a play I had written with a friend to the Edinburgh Festival when I was 19 and saw all the comedy there and though “I want to do that”.
What’s it like working with Noel Fielding?
Fun. He’s very loose and likes making stuff up in the moment. He’s always very respectful to the script. But like his comedy, he likes to go off in unexpected areas.
What plans do you have beyond the tour?
I’m writing various TV shows, both here and in the US, which I hope see the light of day. I’m writing some films too. I really want to get back into acting. Doing other peoples scripts. Maybe even drama.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career in comedy?
Just book a gig at an open spot and don’t give up if it goes awfully. All comedians have to die a few times before they find their comic voice. Also, and I think this is very important in the current mainstream age we’re going through, don’t be afraid to try crazy ideas. Be daring. Don’t think you have to play it safe.