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Nottingham Comedian Scott Bennett: "There’s no such thing as regional comedy – if it’s funny, it’s funny."

15 October 19 interview: Shariff Ibrahim
photos: Fabrice Gagos

Yorkshire lad Scott Bennett uprooted to Beeston a while ago, but he made sure he brought his Northern sense of humour with him. Ahead of his new tour Leap Year, which was nominated for Best Show at Leicester Comedy Festival, the comic invites us into his shed to talk touring, writing for some of the UK’s biggest comedians and his comedy heroes...

You’ve described your new show Leap Year as “a show about sacrifice, support, love and discovering who you really are.” So, it’s quite personal then?
Sounds deep, doesn’t it! The show comes from a point where I couldn’t juggle a full-time job and comedy any more. My wife Gemma, who’s incredible, just said “Right, are we going to do this or what?” and I went for it. She went back to work to allow me to follow this dream, and the show is all about that moment, and trying to balance the glamour of comedy with the reality of being a dad and a husband. The easy bit is making the decision, the reality is the fallout afterwards. A lot of the show is quite introspective, but there are lots of funny routines too, I assure you!

Do you find being a dad is a rich vein of comedy to mine? 
It’s an endless source of comedy. When I do a gig, I like to start by finding the parents in the room who have got babysitters, because you can see the relief. For those without kids, you can just go out and there’s no thought, but for them, it’s been in the Google Calendar for months, and I can see the excitement in their eyes like it’s their first night out. 

What other topics do you cover?
You can only write about your experiences, so it’s easy to just be stuck doing parenting stuff, but I want to look at something different. I’m thinking of going to this shed festival. It sounds weird but I’ve got a shed that I write in which my wife Gemma got for me as a surprise when I quit work. It’s all decked out and has power - I’m not just sat on the lawnmower with a torch. I think she basically wants to keep me in the garden, like a dog in its kennel. But it’s good because it’s the only place in the house that the kids haven’t taken over and I’ve got a bit of me left. 

As well as your tour show, you gig at various club nights around the UK, as well as holiday resorts… 
And yet not one of them will give me a free holiday! The interesting thing is that when you start comedy, you don’t realise how big the comedy world is. I did some gigs in Dubai recently and it was really interesting seeing what worked and what didn’t. Universal themes translate; people are tired parents across the world, people know the British drink too much and people hate a baby on an aeroplane. 

There’s no such thing as regional comedy – if it’s funny, it’s funny

Is there much of a regional difference in British humour?
Billy Connolly said that there’s no such thing as regional comedy – if it’s funny, it’s funny. I have a theory that the more affluent the area, the more difficult the gig. People laugh against adversity, so if people are mortgage-free and retired and going to the Algarve for a month, they don’t have much to laugh at. Traditionally, the North East are always great audiences, Liverpool and Manchester are great, but it depends on the gig rather than the audience. Oh, and Nottingham audiences are the best. Especially the ones on 17 October – they’re going to be giving a standing ovation and whooping like I’m Chris Rock before I even come on!

Have you found many cultural differences between Yorkshire and Beeston?
My parents still live in Yorkshire. I notice differences in the accent, obviously, and the word ‘duck’ threw me. My wife’s parents drink tea constantly, like it’s on a drip, and even as a Yorkshireman I thought I can’t compete with that level. Nottingham’s weird, I don’t think there’s any particular identity. You’re not all riding round on Raleigh bikes and eating mushy peas on the way to Boots. My wife was a ball girl for Notts County and went to see them lose the playoff at Wembley, and I don’t think she’s ever recovered. 

You’re chocka with tour dates and gigs, but you’re also doing a lot of writing for other comedians, as well as podcasts and videos. How do you fit it all in?
I’ve got a very understanding wife! You can’t rest on your laurels – it’s not enough any more to just do stand-up. The writing came about after this pilot show called Panelbeaters, where you had to write jokes for different rounds, and they were looking for comics. What it meant was that every time I had to write loads of jokes, which got me into writing. Then from that I met Jason Manford who hosted the pilot in Leicester. He saw me and got me in to write for him, so it was sort of self-networked. With Chris Ramsey, I was at a gig and someone pulled out, I dropped in at the last minute and he asked me to take notes when he was on stage. Then he asked if I’d like to write for his TV show. 

What’s your favourite strand of what you do?
I’ll always have a love for stand-up because I think there are not many art forms now where you can think of an idea and instantly go out and do it. But it is the most frustrating medium – you can write bits you really like, but it just doesn’t finish right or you’ve not got the right words yet. It’s never finished, and a bit is never done, which can send you mental. It takes a lot of hard work to be good, and the people who make it look easy are the people working the hardest. I would love to have a fifty-fifty balance of stand-up and writing – that would be the dream. 

Scott Bennett will be performing Leap Year at Squire Performing Arts Centre on Thursday 17 October
Scott Bennett website

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