‘The best laughter is unexpected’

Cricket fan James Sherwood is heading to Gosport.
Cricket fan James Sherwood is heading to Gosport.
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James Sherwood, 38, from London, has been a musical stand-up for 11 years and was nominated for a BBC New Comedy award in 2005.

He’s performed six solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and writes for BBC Radio 4 and testmatchsofa.com. ‘I write 30-second jingles about cricketers,’ says James. ‘For me it’s the almost perfect combination: music, comedy and cricket.’

When did you first realise you were funny?

I’d do Rowan Atkinson sketches at fundraising nights at school. But it took me a long time to realise you were allowed to do it as a job (not steal Rowan Atkinson’s material – that’s frowned upon.)

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

I’d probably still be in PR, which I did for a few years after university. I’d be rich and/or bitter by now.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Fairly recently, I did a gig in a little disused bus station on the outskirts of Nottingham.

I had a 20-minute set and I hadn’t planned on improvising much, but this lot were so chatty, I ended up spending the entire time chatting and not doing any of my material.

Quite often a comedian will like to create the impression that what happened was more spontaneous than it was. But I had a keyboard on stage that I hadn’t played to prove it.

At the end, I asked the audience what they wanted to sing and we rounded off my set off with Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

That’s the real joy of comedy, when laughter comes in an unexpected way.

Tell us about three things that make you laugh.

I laugh at other comedians at gigs, when I don’t know what they’re going to say next.

I laugh at repeats of Frasier during breakfast.

And I laugh at babies, to try and make them laugh back.

Tell us a joke.

Which clarinettist allegedly causes earthquakes? Fracker Bilk.

Who’s your biggest hero?

Graham Gooch. In the early stages of his career, he was a bit of a joker. When a cricket match was boring, he’d do impressions of other bowlers while he was bowling. By the standards of ordinary people, that’s not very wacky, but by cricket standards it’s positively insane. And he was a fantastic player.

· James is at the Ssssh Comedy Night at Gosport Discovery Centre on Thursday, September 26, from 8pm. Tickets: £12 from the centre in person, or (023) 9252 3463, or from hants.gov.uk/gdc.