An MA Broadcast Journalism graduate from Staffordshire University has created a stand-up documentary with the help of some big names.
Produced by Ben Lowe (pictured), the documentary, titled “Stand-Up Student,” includes interviews with Johnny Vegas, Russell Howard, Jack Whitehall and many more big names, who offer Ben advice on how to become a stand-up comedian. He also managed to persuade Peter Dickson, the X Factor voiceover man, to do the voiceover for it.
Other comedians who helped out included Arthur Smith, Hugh Dennis, Rhod Gilbert, Greg Davies, Lenny Henry, Ed Bryne, Stephen K Amos, Jo Brand, Russell Kane, Milton Jones, Micky Flanagan, Al Murray, Shappi Khorsandi, Tim Vine, and Kevin Bridges.
But how did Ben manage to get so many big names into his student film? “I met a fair few at Edinburgh Fringe and the reaction from everyone I spoke to was very encouraging,” he explained.
“I then began contacting their agents and booked my first stand-up gig. I had a couple of good contacts and they kindly put me in touch with some of the comedians I interviewed, but in the end I got time with all of them off my own back. Once I’d interviewed half-a-dozen household names that really helped me secure more.”
However, this came with some complications as the comedian’s agents weren’t as willing as some of the comedians to appear in the documentary.
He said: “John Bishop and Jimmy Carr are examples of comedians who said yes when I met them in person but their agents weren’t willing to arrange an interview because of their busy schedules.”
Ben added: “It was extremely frustrating, especially as all I asked for was five minutes of their time backstage anywhere on their tour. My persistence paid off though because lots of agents who initially said no eventually agreed to help me.”
The 30-minute video also sees Ben performing at gigs at The Comedy Junction at Station Pub in Sutton Coldfield and The Comedy Store in London. In preparing for his first gig, Ben wrote down ideas for a few weeks then started to write them up as stand-up as the gig approached.
“The idea came to me after seeing The Noise Next Door perform at The Station,” Ben said. “I realised how much I loved comedy but how being a stand-up would be my worst nightmare!”
Ben chose to star in the film as the “guinea pig” as he knew finding someone willing to do two stand-up gigs with very little aspiration to be a comedian was “a very tall order. I always envisioned myself performing, but from a filming point of view it would’ve been so much easier if I wasn’t on-camera.”
Speaking about his experience doing stand-up, Ben said: “I really struggled to remember my material and practicing was horrible because I genuinely didn’t believe it was funny enough. I nearly always rehearsed in front of a mirror and held a TV remote in my hand pretending it was a microphone.”
He continued: “Before the first gig, I was terrified. I’d never felt so nervous in my entire life. Performing was scary but it was also a massive buzz. I got a real kick out of making the audience smile and an even bigger kick when they laughed. Afterwards it was absolute relief that it was all over!”
The documentary took a total of nine months to create. Unfortunately, Ben didn’t continue his career as a stand-up comedian, but now works for MTV News as a researcher.