I fell into stand-up

Jim Smallman
Jim Smallman
Victor Ariat

Smooth sailing for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Jim Smallman has performed his unique brand of comedy all over the world, from his hometown in Leicester to the hometown of the stars in Hollywood. He also presents a popular show on BBC Radio Leicester. We caught up with him ahead of his Havant show next week to find out what makes him tick.

When did you first realise you were funny?

I wasn’t the class joker at school or anything like that, I was really shy and quiet. I fell into stand-up by accident. I was working in an office and had to do a lot of presentations, which I was terrified of doing. So, I went on a stand-up course in the evenings with the intention of building-up my confidence. It was 12 weeks of writing and discussing material with a gig at the end, which I had no intention of doing, but I loved it and seemed to make people laugh, so became addicted to doing so. Then it became my job.

What would you be if you weren’t a comedian?

When I started comedy I worked as a fashion buyer, but that wasn’t really what I wanted to be. I’m a trained journalist, so would love to say that I’d be working for the NME or something like that, but I’d probably be an English teacher trying to get unruly kids to enjoy Shakespeare.

Which three things make you laugh?

Firstly, my daughter Amelia. She’s seven now and has decided that she wants to follow in my footsteps and be a comedian. She’s even written her first proper joke: Q: What does the doggy have on top of his house? A: A woof. She also manages to be quite an odd kid, so we’re well matched as father and daughter. She performed in her school talent contest by playing air guitar and miming to Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Secondly are the tattoos that people insist on showing me at gigs. I’m covered in tattoos and people seem to love showing me their ink. Be it funny subject tattoos (video game ones seem to be popular at the moment) or amusing mistakes, they never fail to make me giggle.

Third are audience members in general. I’m quite an improvised comic and do a lot of chatting to the audience. It never ceases to amaze me how many interesting and genuinely funny people there are in the world. I’m just glad they don’t all do stand-up, or I’d be out of a job.

What’s your favourite one-liner?

One I wrote by accident: ‘contemporary dance isn’t what it used to be.’ I prefer telling ridiculous stories from my life. I’m better at those.

Who’s your hero?

Comedy-wise, I love Frank Skinner, Eddie Izzard, Micky Flanagan and Jason Byrne. But my all-time hero is former WWE wrestler Mick Foley. His autobiography, Have a Nice Day, is a must read for anyone chasing a daft dream. It’s genuinely one of the most inspiring stories you’ll ever read, whether you like wrestling or not.

· See Jim at Laughing Gear at The Westleigh, Havant And Waterlooville Football Club, on Thursday from 8pm. Tickets cost £5 on the door.