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Comedy Knights Fresh Comedian of 2014 Finalist - Alexis Wieroniey

InterviewPosted by Bobby Carroll Thu, September 04, 2014 08:44:48

What area of London do you currently live in or most associate yourself with?

I’ve been living in Brixton for two years now and I love it. It’s vibrant and fun and I have friends within walking distance for the first time ever. It feels like home.

How would you describe your act in five words?

Energetic, silly, honest, engaging and friendly.

How long have you been doing comedy?

My first ever stand-up gig was just over two years ago, but I started slowly and only did about 6 gigs in the first four months. I’d say I’ve been going steadily for a year and a half.

What is your day job?

I work as a campaigns manager for a national cancer charity.

What has been your worst job?

I worked at an American fast food restaurant called Boston Market. It was awful and greasy and all the other employees made fun of me because I didn’t know how to mop a floor. I only lasted a week and called one day when I was supposed to be in and just said, “Um, I’m not going to come in today. Or ever.” But I needed the money so badly I had to cringingly go in to pick up my meagre pay check. Embarrassing.

Why do you love comedy?

I love comedy because it lets me be me. I can write and perform my own stuff and I really feel at home on stage. It’s such a great art form because it depends on the audience’s reaction as an essential part of the performance in a way that other forms of artistic expression don’t.

Who are your heroes?

Will Ferrell was my first comedy hero for being amazing on Saturday Night Live, I love Robin Williams – who I’ve just seen has passed away, so sad – and as a kid I loved Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and Gene Wilder.

What made you bite the bullet and start performing?

I’ve always loved performing and the first thing I remember wanting to do was be on the American sketch show Saturday Night Live. After I moved to London I started taking acting classes and was invited to join a sketch comedy group called The Errors of Comedy. I loved acting with the Errors and as we toured around the open mic circuit and I saw new stand-up after new stand-up, I realised it was something I could probably do, so I gave it a try.

What was your first gig like?

I loved my first gig and was hooked on comedy the moment I got the first laugh from the audience. It was so rewarding to know that it was something I wrote and said that made people chuckle. I was outrageously nervous though and was happy that I had a few friends there supporting me. I performed it as a sketch between me and the 15 year old version of myself, which was a nice way to ease into stand-up from the world of sketch comedy.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Making the Comedy Knights Final and having three shows so far this year at the Edinburgh festival which have been standing room only. Being able to make people laugh who were standing in a very hot packed room seemed like a pretty big achievement to me!

What has been your favourite gig?

This is a hard one as I’ve had loads of gigs which have been incredibly fun to perform at. However, my most favourite was probably last week, my 2nd show this year in Edinburgh. It was standing room only and I was blown away so many people came. Saskia Preston did a set to kick off and she was great. We have nearly opposite comedic styles and I think they worked really well together. I was really happy with my timing and delivery and people laughed the whole way through. It was great.

And describe your worst?

I made the incredibly foolhardy decision to try the Gong Show at the Comedy Store on my 10th ever gig. It was far too early to do such a thing as I hadn’t even really worked out what I was doing as a comedian. I lasted for just under two minutes before being booted off. As I walked off stage, the MC said, “Well, there goes another un-funny woman, so she’ll have a show on Channel 4 soon.” It was horrible and it took ages for me to recover my confidence after that.

Weirdest heckle?

Last year I was doing a 20 minute set in Edinburgh and an 8 year old girl in the audience put her hand up and I said, “Yes?” She said, “Excuse me, can I say something? You’re crazy!” It was polite and on point. Touché little girl.

What is the best thing about being a comedian?

The best thing is the feeling when you’ve worked on a particular bit and you’re up in front of a crowd who are genuinely laughing due to the choices you’ve made. It’s such an incredible feeling that it’s no wonder people get hooked on comedy like it’s a drug.

What is the biggest lesson you've learnt?

To be yourself and find your voice as a comedian. They’ll always be people who are funnier, quicker, wittier, better at all kinds of things, but as long as I write what’s funny to me and keep working on my act then I know I’ll be fine. Also, never blame the audience for anything because if they don’t laugh it’s probably always your fault.

Where do you hope to be in ten years with your comedy?

To have an un-funny show on Channel 4. Seriously though, I love panel shows so I would love to do regular spots on them. I used to work in politics and I’m still very politically engaged so I’d love to be able to join that with comedy on TV.

Any other aspirations?

I just want to be able to keep doing comedy, and over time be able to do more of it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop doing comedy now as it feels quite a lot like an addiction.

What's your favourite joke by another act or from your childhood?

Mitch Hedberg’s comedy CDs are all jointly my favourite. I used to know them by heart. I don’t think I could pick just one bit off of them. My favourite from another act I know is Tom Ward’s bit about stepping on snails and thinking they are minstrels. I’ve seen it over 10 times and it still makes me laugh hysterically.

ALEXIS WIERONIEY // // @alexiswieroniey