A new year means there are lots of new and exciting shows, music, albums, comedy and much around the corner and we have an exciting month for you! In true Phoenix Remix tradition we are chatting to lots of different acts all about what they have in store for 2022. Today we talk to John Hardy, a stand up comedian and an improviser about what he has in store for the new year.
Hello tell us all about yourself?
I am a frustrated wannabe Red Coat, who chose University and Sports over entertainment and showbiz, something that has just made the want to do stand-up well grow and develop (some may say fester) for over 30 years. Due to this I am a latecomer to comedy, spending my career in sports coaching, personal training and now teaching. The best part of my job has always been standing on stage presenting, something I have been lucky enough to do around the world. My career has meant that I have lived all around the UK and spent 3 years in the US, living and working in Colorado.
As a kid I loved holiday parks, my family were never rich enough to do Butlins, but I loved Ladbrokes, Haven and Pontins (before it was bought out). My first stand-up itch happened on a holiday camp, where I was persuaded out of trying to tell jokes on stage at a Haven, at the age of 14. Before the discussion with my Dad, I was fairly confident, especially after being a roaring success as a 9-year-old actor, performing as Badger in Wind of the Willows. I use that experience to challenge me to keep growing and having a go. I love all comedy, in all forms, and in order to catch up on some of the years I missed out on, I have taken a lot of workshops to fill the skills gap. Hanging with other funny people is like a dream especially when you get to talk comedy with people who love it as much as I do.
How did you get into stand up comedy?
A friend and an amazing act, Katie Zoe Mitchell (current show She Festers), kindly invited me to perform in her stand-up night in Nottingham. The night was lovely, a small audience made up of a mixture of students and improvisers from the group I was in, all being supportive of acts with little experience, or with sets that were completely off of the wall. My first 5 minutes was 15 minutes long, I got some laughs, but I think from sympathy. Each week I performed I tried a new set, which is an error on its own, but that opportunity and push is the reason I now love doing stand-up.
What have been your favourite shows you have done?
I had a five minutes at 2 Northdown where I was in the middle of an Improvisation Course with Dave Razowsky, instead of just delivering jokes, I leaned into using the stage and being more physical. The five minutes felt great, my jokes landed and I was different from the other acts in a good way. After getting some coaching on my act, I soon realised that the material was not the best, so hats off to Dave for helping me with delivery and having so much fun on stage.
Recently I have been performing at We are funny project, with Alfie Noakes, who helps a lot of new comics with courses and a friendly night that is not a bringer. My last night was headlining the first half, where I brought 18 months of focussed lockdown writing to the stage. The gig was great because it showed that my coach was right about the material, and it also showed I could actually write jokes.
Ultimately, my favourite show was at Hoopla, where I performed my stand-up on a night that was mixed with sketch and improvisation. That night was great because the audience, the other acts and the friendly feel of the whole event made the stage time fly. Obviously, the other important factors were in place too, lots of laughs, jokes that landed and a round of applause at the end for my ego.
What are your plans for 2022?
In 2022 I intend to grow my 10 minutes up to 20 and by the end of the year 1 hour so that I can start to do some more of the festivals. My aim is to make this the warm-up year for a ‘2023’ go at Edinborough. Part of the goal is to travel more and get my reputation up to the level where I can headline small gigs around the UK, 2022. Early in the new year I also want to try some character stand-up, I have been writing for this for a while, and when I am happy with the character and the material then I will take it on stage.
Away from stand-up, I have a couple of two-prov groups that I will be performing with, Honey Badger with Minder Kaur Athwal, and Chip Chop with Joanne Groves. I am hoping that I get to get on the road with these groups too, performing with Honey Badger in Oslo was amazing two years ago, so I would like to try that again.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing perform online or in-person to this year?
I am determined to get to see Katie Zoe Mitchell perform live again, Covid and work have taken that opportunity away from me so it has been a few years. Covid also meant that I missed out on seeing Jonny Vegas, and so I intend to get myself to see him soon too. If they decide to tour again, I did have tickets for Steve Martin and Martin Short, I am hoping that they come back this year. At some point I would like to get to see Mad Ron, he is a great character actor and I love how he uses the character to deliver some great jokes. Also, any and all comedy shows that I can get to, I will, I think it’s important to support the scene.
What styles do you hope to see more of in comedy this year?
I want to see a return of innovative comedy, where people take some risks. It feels like a long time since we had a Reeves and Mortimer really make it big. Obviously, Tape Face did well and I loved him on his TV clips. Physical comedy when it is done well is amazing, so more of that would be great. Jerry Bakewell “Britains most unsuccessful Mexican wrestler and Europes heaviest light entertainer” is doing an amazing job of this on the circuit.
What improv comedian is your ones to watch in 2022 and why?
Liam Webber, he has the perfect mixture of an amazing comedy brain combined with an instinct to support and enhance the performance of anyone he is on stage with. As well as dedicating a lot of his time to helping other improvisers improve, he has also put a lot of time into developing himself through stage time and learning from other improvisers. The Clones, his two-prov group with Lloydie from the Maydays is great and a must-see. You will probably see Liam working on a lot of improv projects and if you are an improviser and you get a chance, you should definitely take a class with him.
Do you have any new years resolutions?
If so what are they?Yes, I am going to write each day.I have a couple of unrealistic ones too though, I am going to eat better (purposefully vague) and train more (again, purposefully vague)
Are you on social media? If so how can people find out more about you?
Three words why people should come and see you this year?
Funny – Daft – Physical
Quick Fire Round
The movie or television show you are looking forward to seeing this year?
Your favourite book?
Bob Mortimer – And Away!
If you could paint anything what would you paint?
I think I can paint anything, but I choose not too also Cheese because I miss it
What is the most delightful word you can think of?
Pulp – Different Class
Where would you love to go on holiday this year?
Turtle Bay Resort O’ahu
What is your favourite quote from a television show?
“How does any genius figure out his inventions? I mean, how did Leonardo DiCaprio figure out about gravity? ‘Cause the bitch was sleepin’ underneath a tree and an apple hit him on his head.” Kenny Powers East Bound and Down
I love how wrong the words are, but even more how much conviction the quote is delivered with.
Who is your favourite film character and why?
Uncle Buck -John Candy is one of my Heros