Opinion: Comedian Joe Rowntree On The Thrill Of Being A Stand-Up

Next year I’m 37. That means I will have been doing comedy for 20 years. It sounds ridiculous even writing it especially as it feels like yesterday I did my first open spot as a bright eyed, naively ambitious 17 year old at a pub in South London.

Can’t believe two decades have nearly passed and I’ve been making a modest living from stand up for 15 years. It’s been 10 years since my close friends stopped asking me to go out at weekends to catch up: “really sorry mate...but I’ve got a gig.”

Sacrifices have been made, mainly from my wife and family who have supported and pushed me to follow my dream job; a job that involves working silly, unsociable hours.

Comics have more in common with lorry drivers than any other profession, we do the same hours, ridiculously long journeys interspersed with a brief stop, off load our jokes, then back on the road.

These hours are when most people are out spending time with their friends, family and loved ones. Comedians wives, husbands, partners and family, lying in bed awake; anxious and worried that you are on the road, alone, hoping you make it home without having an accident. Huge respect to them all for the emotional upheaval we put you through, just so we can scratch our itch of making strangers laugh in the dark!

Stand up is a job that has given me some of my most electrifying highs and crushing lows, what has kept me going is my love of performing, being on stage and entertaining a live audience. Nothing beats instant gratification more than the sound of laughter.

It’s easy to get distracted and feel down at the success of others in this game, fear of missing out and missing out. I’ve learnt over the years to be grateful of where I am now, to remember how far I’ve come in nearly two decades and what I’ve overcome in order to achieve it.

Another person's success is not a loss for me, I think what I can learn from it. I see other people’s accomplishments as inspiration for my own. Feeling as though I need to compete with other people can be exhausting. It’s hard enough to build a life and a career you can be happy in without seeing the victories of others as losses for yourself. I’ve learnt to not make it about me and not to assume it has anything to do with me, it’s part of their journey they started long ago.

Just look at what the likes of Paul Smith and the boys at Hot Water have done. Truly inspirational and groundbreaking.

Last weekend I performed at Komedia in Brighton, such a great club. This weekend I am performing at the world famous London Comedy Store. To play this club once in a lifetime is an honour and privilege. The London Comedy Store is the reason I moved to London when I was 17. London is where I’ve built my career and started a family. There’s no place like home, the London Store feels like home.

I get to perform with the best MC’s and comics on the UK and International comedy circuit and I constantly remind myself to never take any of it for granted!

It’s weekends like this that make....

(all those long drives on the motorway, alone in the car, veering onto the rumble strip, sticking my head out of the window, shaking my face like a crazy hyena in the vain hope I stay awake, turning the air con on full blast, singing as loudly as I can, sleeping in truck stops, getting parking fines from sleeping in service stations over the 2 hour limit, even though I’m 20 mins from home, downing a whole bag of Haribo tangfastic just for the sugar rush to work its magic to slow soporific meanderings into sleep.... trying to stay focused on the road and keep my eyes open for as long as humanly possible, getting home at 2am on a Sunday morning, missed weekends with friends and family)

.....all worth it!

What makes this weekend even more special is that my wife, mum and two close friends will be coming to support.

If you are around then pop along, would be good to meet up with any other mates who I haven’t seen in a while and if you can’t make it, I understand... “you’ve probably got another gig “

Joe Rowntree is at the London Comedy Store, 25/26/27 Oct; Manchester Comedy Store, 2/3/4 Oct; Covent Garden Comedy Club, 10th Nov; Bearcat, Twickenham 24 Nov; Comedy Hotspot Dunston, Lincolnshire, 30th Nov. 

Follow Joe Rowntree on Twitter here.

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