Paul McCaffery, Liverpool, Tour, Comedy, TotalNtertainment

10 Questions with …. Paul McCaffrey

I saw U2 in an arena the night after I’d played there supporting Kevin Bridges for three nights. It was insane to see that size production compared to me standing up there with just a mic!

Paul McCaffrey is about to head out on his “I Thought I’d Have Grown Out Of This By Now” tour on March 1st so we spoke to Paul about what got him into stand-up, touring with Kevin Bridges and more.

1. Thanks for your time Paul. Firstly, you’ve got the tour kicking off in March. What can you tell us about it?
“Well, it’s the first kind of a tour so it’ll mostly be my best bits so far in the first half of the show and the second half of the show is basically a show I did in Edinburgh which is about me and some friends going to a music festival in our forties having been to one together previously in our twenties.”

2. Like you said, it’s your first proper tour. What are you expecting from it?
“I don’t know really. I’ve done two big tours recently supporting people. I supported Sean Lock a couple of years ago and I’ve just come off tour supporting Kevin Bridges as well. I’ve been doing the comedy circuit for a while now and I’ve done bits and pieces on TV so I thought I’d dip my toe in the bigger touring thing, not that this is massive or anything, but just to get the ball rolling on me going out as an artist in my own rights.”

3. You mentioned the Kevin Bridges tour which is a comedy tour on a different level to almost everyone at the moment. What did you learn from touring with Kevin ?
“He’s an incredible act and I was so lucky to get to watch him close up night in night out and he’s one of my favourites. Just to sort of play those kind of rooms where you’re going into arenas and it’s a proper event. It was an amazing insight into somebody at that level. Even Sean’s tour though which was also a massive thing, but that was more theatres, you just get to see what hard work can do. It was inspiring on a number of levels.”

“Doing a support as well there is also that element of having to win people over which is something you don’t really have to do if you’re doing shows as an artist in your own rights because people have paid to come and see you specifically. Also, when you’re part of a mixed bill nobody, apart from maybe the odd person, really knows who you are. When you’re selling a ticket you’re hoping that people are specifically coming because they’ve seen you before and they like what you do. It’s nice to go out and win people over but it would also be nice to go out knowing people are specifically there to see you.”

4. “I Thought I’d Have Grown Out Of This By Now” is the name of the show. Going back to your childhood, what did you want to be growing up?
“I think I’ve always wanted to do this really. I’d always wanted to act or perform in some way. I grew up in a small town which wasn’t like London where people knew about the Open Mic nights. You had to go out and learn all of that. I didn’t really realise you could comedy as a job, I just thought it was the guys on TV and that was it. I didn’t really know how they got there.”

“I then went to drama school and enjoyed it but it wasn’t really something I wanted to be doing. Then I moved to Brighton and somebody told me about a comedy course run by a lady called Gill Edwards which I went and did and that was such a massive thing for me in my life. She’s had a lot of people do it like Jimmy Carr who’ve now gone on to great things but it teaches you so many things. Like there used to be a comedy section in Time Out which would have listings for all of the gigs in London and, quite often, they would have the number for the person you would have to phone to try and get a slot. I did a couple of competitions and it went well enough at the beginning for me to want to keep going. In 2010 I quit my day job as I was just about doing well enough from this to keep going and it’s gone from there.”

“As for what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this, I have no idea. I’ve had so many jobs like bar work and stuff like that. Nothing that I thought that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I started comedy that was how I felt.”

5. A lot of comedians start out with a “proper job” as well. When did you realise you could make a career out of your comedy?
“I think when I started doing well in the New Acts competitions. There is a few of them and that’s when you start getting noticed. I got signed by an agent and they started to get me into some paid work. Having an agent opens doors and gets you into places as they have an established relationship with people rather than you just phoning people up and saying you’re funny. That was in 2009 and then I started picking up the odd paid gig and started getting seen. A year or so later I was working in a call centre which had quite a flexible arrangement but I’d had a particular tough day where I was sat there thinking that I couldn’t take this for much longer and I was working things out in my head and I worked out I could just about do it so I pulled the plug on it and, luckily, I haven’t had to work a day job since.”

6. You mentioned Brighton, you couldn’t have picked a more creative area to work ?
“Yes, I met a few people down there and we had a network of people who were putting on gigs where you could go to and try stuff out.”

7. Who inspired you as a comedian ?
“I really like broad mainstream comedy so people like Peter Kay and I like a lot of sitcoms like Alan Partridge. When I was young I used to like the Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin with Leonard Rossiter. I used to really like Woody Allen films as a kid which was quite odd because the themes are quite middle-aged but I can remember watching those on a black and white TV in my room and they really resonated with me which was quite odd.”

8. Away from comedy, how do you like to spend your time?
“I like to go and watch a lot of bands. I’m big into my music. I went to see U2 recently and we went to the gig on a Monday and we’d been in that room on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday so to go to a gig there on the Monday was pretty insane especially to see U2 in a room you’d played in the night before. I’m glad we did it that way round because if I’d gone to see U2 on the Thursday and we’d had to follow that on the Friday I’d have been shitting myself.”

“I also collect a lot of records and, certainly when I’m away working, that’s my way of killing time is hunting out record shops. I’ve a fairly good knowledge of where the good ones are in most places although I’m still on the lookout for more.”

9. What do you remember about your first ever stand-up show ?
“Sort of really not wanting to do it. Part of the course I did with Gill, at the end of it, there was a thing where you had to perform five minutes of stand-up at the end of the eight week course. It was in Comedia in Brighton which is a purpose-built club and there were like 300 people there. That is the most nervous I’ve ever been. That went in a blur but it went really well. I can’t remember much other than my name being called and walking up there and the rest being a bit of a blur.”

10. Finally, what advice would you give someone wanting to try stand-up ?
“If you think it is something you’d like to try then give it a try. Better to do it than regret not doing it as the old adage goes. If you do try it and find it is something that you enjoy then do it as often as you can, that would be my advice!”

You can catch Paul on his I Thought I’d Have Grown Out Of This By Now Tour kicking off on March 1st. For a full list of dates visit Paul’s official website.