Interview: Kai Humphries
If you’re a regular visitor of the region’s many comedy clubs, you’ll have seen Kai Humphries at least a dozen times – but that’s no bad thing. Humphries is already one of the best local acts working the circuit, and has the potential to be huge. After seeing his debut show Evolution at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Andrew Dipper caught up with Kai Humphries to find out all you’d want to know about the Northern comic.
AD: Hi Kai – so how did you start out in comedy?
KH: I’d never been to live comedy before but I picked up a flyer for a midweek gig at the Hyena which promised established acts doing new material, I went along and watched great local acts such as Gavin Webster and Dave Johns. The only flaw with the night was that there were only 12 punters, and 6 of them were with me. I spoke to Gavin who was running the night and asked whether next month if I brought more people I could have 10 minutes stage time. This was never in pursuit of a career it was only ever meant to be a one off, just me showboating in front of my pals. But through Facebook word spread and over 100 people turned up to see my debut. The gig went really well for me, other acts on the night put me in touch with local promoters and since that day a week has not passed that I haven’t gigged.
AD: Brilliant. So can you remember your first joke?
KH: Yes, it was about since people found out I was doing stand up they always ask me to tell a joke, but I wouldn’t recognise a lap-dancer on her day off walking through the shops and ask her to take her kit off. I dropped this joke as many variations of it have already been done. The only time I use it now is if anyone asks me to tell them a joke!
AD: Who were your influences in the industry? Do you have a favourite act at the moment?
KH: I never really obsessed over comedy but my favourite comedian has always been Joe Rogan. He was probably my inspiration. I saw him live for the first time last year and was awe struck at how good he was at simply being himself with no apologies or insecurities. Since I started my main influences have been acts such as Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges and Rhod Gilbert – these comics that have reached the top through hard work and dedication and are naturally very funny people. I’ve been very privileged to work with them and one day hope to follow in their footsteps.
AD: You’ve recently returned from Edinburgh after performing your debut show – did you not worry that it might have been too much too early given you’ve only been doing comedy for two years?
KH: No way. Too many comics play by this rule book of how to do things but seize the moment I say. I always like to set goals that seem a little bit out of my reach – if there is something in your diary that you aren’t quite good enough to do yet, you know how much time you have to improve and pull your socks up before it reaches that day. Having to put together an hour show summoned more motivation than I could ever muster if I had played it by the book.
AD: How was your time in Edinburgh then? What was your highlight?
KH: Best month of my life. It was hard work at times but had infinitely more ups than downs. I made some friends for life and did 78 gigs the time I was there, which was a quarter of the gigs I’d ever done. My best Edinburgh moment was at the end of one of my shows late into the run I found myself in the crowd chatting to people only for my old school teacher to stand up and say, “And do I get a hug?” This Teacher was Mrs Noble. . . . Ross Noble’s mum. It was fantastic to see a blast from the past and very flattering that the most successful North-East comedian in history’s mother would come to see my debut show.
AD: The Fringe is widely regarded as the place to be for comedians – but has it affected your career in any way? Have you got any gigs off the back of your run?
KH: I went into the fringe a full time lifeguard and part time comic; I come out the other side a full time comic and part time lifeguard. My Baywatch days will soon be over come 2011. The fringe festival acted like a massive spring board and brought the comedy dream a whole lot closer to reality.
AD: So are you returning to Edinburgh next year for another show?
KH: It’s hard to say. Finding the funds and material to put on another hour long show seems almost impossible to achieve by August next year however I said that last year so watch this space.
AD: Fingers crossed. You filmed a set for Comedy Central which was aired on Friday night – do you hope to do more TV work in future?
KH: I’d love to. The whole process is exciting – the pressure on the day recording it, the anticipation waiting for it to broadcast and the relief when it goes well. My passion is with stand-up but I would love to have the opportunity to try my hand at sitcom and sketches but we’re talking pipe dreams at the moment.
AD: Finally, I’ve heard you’re quite the expert with a Rubik’s Cube. What’s your best time and can you tell us fools the key to success?
KH: My best time is 88 seconds. I think it’s just a memory thing. Once you have learned the different algorithms and learn when to apply them it becomes second nature, like delivering a routine. I know 2 other people that can complete the Rubik’s Cube and they are both comedians…probably a coincidence!?
If you’re looking to see Kai Humphries, he promotes Punch-Drunk Comedy on the first Monday of every month at Concordia Leisure Centre in Cramlington. More information is available here.