Opinion: What Do Lewis Hamilton & Lee Evans Have In Common?

Lee Evans

I was listening to the tributes to newly-crowned Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton this morning and one particular thing was mentioned that caught my attention. Hamilton was just the tip of a team’s iceberg, it was said. There were mechanics, engineers, pit-stop johnnies and more all contributing to his success.

It is often the same in stand-up comedy, even though we tend to think of it as a solo enterprise. Comedians certainly start off on their own, but as soon as they start to break through a support network builds up which is every bit as crucial as Lewis Hamilton’s team.

So with the bombshell that Lee Evans is quitting live stand-up there willl surely be an inevitable knock-on effect, from caterers to drivers to T-shirt sellers who may have to look for other megatours to work on.

And then there is Stuart Silver. I don’t really know much about Stuart Silver except that he has written with Lee Evans during his two decades at the top. According to IMDB his earliest credit seems to be on the 1996 Different Planet Tour. His latest credit is on the current Monsters tour.

It is one of the less well-publicised sides to stand-up that many household names use, or at least work, with writers. Michael McIntyre can riff off the top of his head with the best of them, but has still been known to bounce ideas around with fellow comics.

Others do it too. Some work with writers for their TV work but not their stand-up. Tom Stade, for instance, wrote on Frankie Boyle’s C4 series Tramadol Nights. Study the production credits on comedy shows and the same names may begin to appear. Former stand-ups who started a family and decided that life on a laptop was more fun than life on the road. Even established stand-ups such as Henry Paker, who juggle writing for themselves with writing for bigger names,

It’s nothing to be bashful about if a comedian works with someone else. It is not often that comedians actually buy jokes from a production line by the metre. It is more like a sitcom writers room, with gags and topics being workshopped until something stage-worthy emerges.

Brighton comedian Stephen Grant has talked about collaborating with Russell Kane and has described it as more like giving notes after watching Kane onstage than hammering out lines to order. There might be a romantic glamour to stand-ups being solo operators, but anything that makes their show funnier has got to be a Good Thing.

Maybe Evans will still work on projects with Silver, who must know comedy’s sweaty atom inside out. But if Evans is no longer touring Silver may also find himself with some time on his hands. Perhaps he will offer his services elsewhere. A writer with Silver’s CV ought to be worth their weight in gold.

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