In March 2015 stand-up comic Sam Avery’s life changed forever.
His wife gave birth to twin boys
They soon found themselves sleep-deprived, waist-deep in nappies and ‘enjoying’ all the other things that newborns bring – twice over.
But not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, the Liverpool native soon realised he was sitting on a goldmine for comedic material.
‘Since the kids were born, I’ve never been as busy creatively. Everyone talked about this new focus you get when your kids are born, but for me it was the fact that I was given this gift of all of this new material every day.
‘If I was writing a stand-up set or a show to take to Edinburgh, I’d have to sit down and think about what I wanted to write about and how am I going to approach this? And what are the key points? And so on.
‘But as soon as the boys were born, literally day one, it was like, it’s all there right in front of me! This is amazing!’
Sam actually started writing things down when they were still in the hospital: ‘I just thought I might get 10 minutes of stand-up out of this.’ But when he stuck some of it on his personal Facebook page, it snowballed.
‘Then someone suggested that I make it into a blog so people could subscribe and all of this other stuff I didn’t understand. It was very slow the first month or so, and then I think it was [influential entertainment website] LADbible picked up on one of my pieces and it just exploded.’
Publishing weekly ‘diaries’ from the point of view of his children, he soon built a sizeable following, and a year ago published a book, Confessions of a Learner Parent based on his experiences.
‘The first 12-18 months particularly, there’s something new every day. They might have their routine of sleeping and eating, but everything else is kind of evolving quite quickly, so the second you think you’re all right, you have to learn something new. There were so many new scenarios I was getting involved in – I covered a lot of them in the book.’
But he was still overflowing with material, and so the new show was born.
‘Basically, I was taking all of that creative energy from the blog and book and applying it to my first love, which is stand-up. I was going out to all of the open mic and new material nights, just bashing ideas about, I’ve got so much stuff, I don’t have enough time to try it all out.
‘I’ve written so much down over the last two years, and a lot of it I thought would only work as stand-up, so this is where I get to release it all into the wild.’
He’s also learned that parents of twins get some slightly unusual treatment.
‘They say things like: “Oh I couldn’t do what you do”, and they’ve got seven kids! That’s way harder – I’ve only got two, as much as I was definitely part of the slightly smug: “We’ve got twins, you couldn’t possibly know what it’s like” brigade.
‘Those first 12 months are really tough, but after that, I’m looking at my other mates who’ve got a baby and a four-year-old or a three-year-old and a five-year old, and I’m walking around with my two lads who are both into the same things, both at the same development. They fight with each other but they are mates as well, and I’m thinking this is way easier than that!
‘You do get that weird sort of respect – you get that with stand-up too. It’s funny how people’s perceptions of things they have no experience of are so far from the truth. I get people come up to me at comedy clubs – all comics do – and they say: “I couldn’t do what you do, it’s too scary”. So you ask what they do, and they’re in the army! That’s way scarier that standing up and getting stared at.’
Things could have been very different for Sam though. As a teenager he was in a band dBh who were signed to a major label and on the cusp of making it big.
‘We were just kids basically, angry 15-year-olds from Liverpool who played post-grunge and nu-metal that kind of morphed into death metal. We toured with Motorhead and Ice-T, it was mental. I did an Edinburgh show about it a couple of years ago called Rock and Dole
‘It was all about the journey towards superstardom that then it all fell apart, as a good comedy show should. Otherwise, if I went: ‘We made it, I’m really successful,’ it’s not very funny is it? It’s just a man boasting.
‘The end of that show was about how the best thing that could have ever happened to me was that band not making it.
‘I would have made a terrible rock star. I’m too polite, I had rubbish hair – I’ve got no hair at all now – and also the things that have happened to me since then wouldn’t have, I met my wife, the friends I made, and getting into stand-up comedy which was always my favourite passion that I wanted to pursue.
None of that would have happened – and the kids would never have been born.
I don’t believe in fate, but I do think that it was the right thing to happen, at least that’s what I tell myself: “No, I didn’t want fame and fortune and groupies and private jets…”
Like many parents of multiples, the moment they found out it was twins is etched in his memory.
‘I think that was more surreal than when they arrived. My wife had morning sickness in the evening, and there’s an old wives’ tale that that means it’s twins, so she was convinced it was going to be twins, and I’m going: “Shut up!” he cackles.
‘Then we’re there at the hospital and the guy says: “Is this your first scan?” And she knew from that sentence that it was twins. God knows how, and he said: “There’s the baby”, and you know, your heart melts. Then my wife actually says:”Iis there just one in there?” Which is a very weird thing to say, and the guy said: “Nope”, and he moved the scope. You know how on University Challenge when somebody buzzes and the camera zooms in on them? It was like that. We both just went: “Oooooh!” We couldn’t believe it.
‘Then I said: “Is there just two in there?” He looked at me and went: “Nope”, as if to say there was three. I already my coat on and was ready to run out of there. He laughed, and said: “I’m only joking.”
‘He set my mind racing to three, so twins didn’t sound so bad after that.
‘I was thinking for a moment I’m going to have to start a meth lab in the garage to fund all of this...’
SAM AVERY: THE LEARNER PARENT
The Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Wednesday, October 17
The Spring Arts Centre, Havant
Thursday, October 25