Steve Harris interview

The British stand-up talks about being heckled, performing in a war zone
and opens up about his biggest fear…

Interview

You’ve performed to British troops in Afghanistan. What was that like?
It was a very bizarre experience because you are a civilian in a military environment. Most of the time I was performing while war planes were taking off, so I had to try and talk over the noise of jet engines. There were occasions when a siren would sound and we had to hit the deck. I don’t mind being heckled, but being heckled by a mortar bomb is slightly different.

What’s the worst heckle you’ve ever had?
Just recently actually, three minutes in, somebody asked when the comedian was coming on. So comedy isn’t for everybody. There can be a room where one person just doesn’t like you.

What attracted you to comedy?
I was teaching at the time. I did a gig in Manchester and I got paid sort of the same wage for the ten minutes I did on stage. I just thought to myself, if I work at it and put the effort in, I could make a living out of it.

How hard was it starting out?
I was lucky because I won a competition in England, ‘North West Comedian of the Year’ award, after my fifth gig, which was won by Peter Kay the year before. So that propelled me onto the circuit.

Do you take on a persona on stage?
It’s more a heightened version of myself, stuff that I can get away with that I couldn’t walking down an aisle in Tesco. On stage, I can get away with murder, I’m just a big buffoon who tells jokes.

What inspires your routines?
It changes as I get older and as my children grow up and me and my wife mature. At the moment I’m tapping into the universal theme of how people behave, and being honest…

What can we expect from the show?
There’s always room for a bit of bespoke comedy from the audience and Dubai’s environment. I’ll be writing as soon as I hit the ground. I’m sure that the last set will be very different to the first one that I’ll do.

Do you enjoy improv?
I’ve actually become very good at improvisation. I have got to that point in my career where I like to move away from material and have fun with the audience, but that depends on the people at the gig. It’s a fine art really.

What’s your biggest fear?
Dying on stage and making a mess of it. You can never walk on stage and think you’ll nail it because you’ll fail. You have to die to become a good comedian.

Do you ever regret things you say on stage?
Of course. I don’t want any victims. There’s a saying in comedy, ‘Don’t punch down, always punch up.’ So I’m usually the only victim.
Dhs140. Aug 13-20. Various locations including Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, The Walk, JBR, www.thelaughterfactory.com (04 355 1862).

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