Aaron Simmonds was a BBC New Comedy Award finalist in 2017. He also won Jewish Comedian Of The Year in the same year. His credits include The Stand Up Sketch Show (ITV2), BBC At The Edinburgh Festivals (BBC Two), The Edinburgh Show (BBC Scotland), BBC...
Aaron Simmonds was a BBC New Comedy Award finalist in 2017. He also won Jewish Comedian Of The Year in the same year. His credits include The Stand Up Sketch Show (ITV2), BBC At The Edinburgh Festivals (BBC Two), The Edinburgh Show (BBC Scotland), BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Unexpected Fluids podcast and Laura Whitmore’s Sunday Session (BBC Radio 5 Live). He’s also been seen and heard on BBC Three and BBC Radio 4 Extra, and has appeared in a BBC Quickie with Brennan Reece and Rosie Jones.
Aaron performed his critically-acclaimed debut show, Disabled Coconut, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019. He reached the final of the Amused Moose Comedy Award competition for best show and was nominated for Best Comedy Show in the Broadway World UK Edinburgh Fringe Awards. He also performed a work-in-progress show called, Aaron Simmonds And The Person That He Loves, at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe. Aaron has performed at the Great Yorkshire Fringe, Bedfringe, Guildford Fringe, Offbeat Festival, Leicester Comedy Festival and Nottingham Comedy Festival as well as at comedy clubs around the UK including The Comedy Store (Manchester), Glee, Just The Tonic, Hilarity Bites and Funhouse Comedy.
Aaron and I talked about his love for comedy from an early age and the differences in British & American comedy among many other things.
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Aaron has cerebral palsy and is a professionally-trained personal trainer, as well as a former international basketball player and world champion powerlifter.
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Aaron Simmonds 1
[00:00:00] Scott Curtis: [00:00:00] Today, I've got Aaron Simmons and he is a former BBC new comedy award and amused moose, how many award finalists? And he has a critically acclaimed show called disabled coconut, which was nominated for best comedy show in the Broadway world, UK Edinburg, fringe Wars. That's a lot of words, but yeah, I've got Aaron Simmons and I am stoked.
Let's bring them up right now. Aaron, how you doing? I'm
Aaron Simmonds: [00:00:25] good. How are you?
Scott Curtis: [00:00:26] Got a few UK comics on and that's a, it's really nice to get that perspective because you guys are a little bit different in your sensibilities and the way. The way you emote the way you go through ideas and stuff like that.
So I think it's really neat to see the similarities and the differences, but let's talk about you. Who was it that you saw when you were growing up or before you started comedy that really said, Hey, I'd kinda like to do that.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:00:57] So it's an interesting one because [00:01:00] I. Always wanted to be a comeback.
And I remember 14, 15, I would watch comedy in a very different way than everybody else would. So like in the UK we would get, she got a couple of different comedy shows that I would watch over and over again, which is a live in the Apollo. I don't know if you've ever watched that.
But that's quite a big one over here and we had a comedy central, the comedy store and these kinds of things. It's just pure standup. It's not anything like that. And I remember watching, I remember I had two main, I had videos of Frank Skinner live and at his art life and I would watch it over and over again.
And my mom just couldn't work out. Why I was watching this show and I was finding it funny every single time. Whereas in her world, once you hear a joke, you've had the joke. It's not funny the second time. Whereas I would watch it again and again, just in the same way that I would watch comedy now, [00:02:00] how does that bit work and all that kind of stuff.
Now I'm very different to Eddie is I'm not anywhere like anywhere near as good, but it was like just a very different comic than he is. But I think those are the big sort of. Earliest memories I have of stand up. And yeah, I never thought about doing it until I was 20, but let's start at 24 started.
So probably thought about it 23, 22 ish. But yeah, so I've always wanted to be a coach recognized with assaults.
Scott Curtis: [00:02:28] I, I absolutely love Eddie Izzard. He's I call him the British Joan Rivers just because, they were. They were both very similar and it was like a machine gun attack with their punchlines and stuff like that.
And they also didn't take any shit. And it was really cool watching them and I'm like you, I watched stuff ad nauseum, just so I can see. Okay. How did they move their mouth when they said that? And what was, where was their left foot? And [00:03:00] it's funny because when I watched specials now I will watch them with my wife and I'll watch it just to watch it.
And. Enjoy it. And I have to make sure I turn off that part of my brain is trying to analyze it and just enjoy it. And then when she's gone, then I watch it again so I can take notes. Yeah,
Aaron Simmonds: [00:03:20] I think that's, I think that's important thing to do. If you're only in analytical mode and you're only you're constantly on, then you're going to stop enjoying comedy and therefore not going to be as good at it.
I'm like, I think the reason why. Good comics are good. Comics is because they love comedy and they stick around for the whole night in the matrix. They watch every single act and all that kind of stuff that makes a big difference to someone becoming good at something. Very good. And if you drive yourself insane with not being able to switch off that love of it is it's gonna eventually burn out.
And so I think that sort of sit down and enjoy it, first of all. And then you're thinking, [00:04:00] okay, A, how could I love this secondary relate with a huge difference?
Scott Curtis: [00:04:06] Yeah. One comic I interviewed was he had a great approach because he says, I don't think about comedy in the morning because I don't perform it in the morning.
I'm not going to think about it in the morning and I need to fill my life with other stuff. And, there's a certain cutoff. And then I'll start thinking and
Aaron Simmonds: [00:04:24] writing. Yeah. I wish I was the site. But I struggle to switch off very bad. What's the the swearing slash adult content aspect of this, you can
Scott Curtis: [00:04:37] say, you can say whatever you want.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:04:39] Okay, cool. I've thought of jokes doing great jobs. And like I CA like that part of my brain, I find it really hard to switch off. I did stop the blowjob and be like, hang on. I need to write this down. This is very funny afterwards, but I just need to make a note of this.
Scott Curtis: [00:04:58] Isn't it weird to have [00:05:00] notes though.
You go back and the only two words on your nose is blow job and yeah, no,
Aaron Simmonds: [00:05:06] my notepad is the thing of a serial killer. If I die and they're going to be like, why's this no, it's not it's not something that I would. Be particularly proud to be public record. Yeah,
Scott Curtis: [00:05:20] it's funny. I put a lot on my phone because I've always got my phone with me.
I always have pencil and paper and I'll just be scrolling along. So along with it is my grocery list measurements for projects, I'm doing just all kinds of stuff. And then all of a sudden you son of a bitch, stuff like that. I'm like, what is this come from?
Aaron Simmonds: [00:05:42] What you actually need to buy from the supermarket or you got a very wry observation about it.
Yeah. It's a difficult balance.
Scott Curtis: [00:05:52] So thinking about that first time that you did stand up, obviously you'd been thinking about it for a while. If you want, if you were thinking about it since you were [00:06:00] 15 and it was 24, when you went up, you've got nine years and it's percolating in there. And thinking about that first time, did you go through the training at amuse moose first or did you just
Aaron Simmonds: [00:06:10] go up.
No. So I didn't try with moose. The award was given to me because of my edible show. I've done work with Hills before. But I had what I said I've been thinking about it, like in the same way that everyone dreams a big of professional football. I like, I would dream about being a professional comic.
I didn't think it was ever going to happen. So when I did my first of a gig, I remember. It was, I was 24. So it was in, it was July, 2014. I yeah, had an idea of what I wanted to say. A friend of my a friend of mine's boyfriend had done stand up and he said that I should give it a go.
And yeah, it just kept saying it over and over in my head, in the drive to work. And then she got up and did it. And yeah, it was the [00:07:00] best experience I've ever done. Like nerve-wracking I've ever been. I. I remember I bought dinner with me because I don't, I just don't skip meals.
Like the people that would be like, Oh, I forgot lunch. I like, I genuinely don't understand how that brain was. How can we forget lunch is one of the highlights of the day. But I remember this time on my first gig, it was the first time I'd missed dinner in nine years. Because I. I was just starting to have it, so I had, I genuinely couldn't eat.
And yeah, so that was the sort of first time I got off on stage was that night and and yeah, that sort of went surprisingly well. I think so you guys probably listeners might be able to tell, but I, in a wheelchair most of the time, I'm not, I'm just on my couch, but I think. The nature of an open mic gig where you've got 20 acts on the belt, just having someone different is enough.
Yeah. The fact that I was talking about [00:08:00] something that was slightly more interesting than, Tendo, whatever the hack open Mike topics were at the time probably meant. And I got a letter ahead of where I would have been. Without that,
Scott Curtis: [00:08:14] right? It does. It obviously just makes you notice.
We've got a gentleman here that is He's confined to an electric wheelchair because his legs and arms don't work very well. And he obviously commands the stage right at the beginning. But after that, you've only got a few seconds to impress people. I know, When I think of myself, I'm pretty jaded.
You could come up with a come up with no arms, no legs. And I still expect funny. Yeah,
Aaron Simmonds: [00:08:44] That is the tricky thing. I think for me, it's a difficult balance because I think a lot of Comedians who have that instant like ability. It's not necessarily just being in a wheelchair, but there are just some people that just have just a lovely smile or like just something about them is so [00:09:00] warm that audiences just, are just absolutely on their side, straight away, that it can be quite a tricky thing to get that balance.
Of, of actually making sure that your jokes are funny enough. Without that sort of helping hand, because one of the things I found is about your too, I'm going to jump around a lot. Cause that's the way my brain works. But I like my legs. There you go. One of the, one of the things that I found, so of two, three years into my comedy career was I got a lot better making things funny.
So I would take an average story. I learned how to make it good. Whereas what I was doing before that point was. Because I didn't have those skills in order to make a joke funnier or a story. Funny, I'd have to have a really funny story to start off with because I got better at telling stories and setting it all up and all that kind of stuff.
It meant that I then started telling less funny stories in a funnier way. [00:10:00] And so I realized, Oh, hang on. Now I need to go back to those funny stories is I then make them even funny and that's how I'm going to grow as a comic. And I think it's a similar thing is, if you can say, I'm going to make these jokes as folly, or I want to make sure that I am as likable as I would be.
If I wasn't in a wheelchair or if I didn't smile or I didn't oversell a bit or whatever, it then means that when you do all of those things on top of writing a good joke, it then is going to escalate it even further. Like I had the thing that Chris rock, when he's doing new material, he just says it. He doesn't perform it and not, and that says a lot because he's one of the best performers that spit this out a bed, and then he can go on stage and just read a sentence and it gets something, he knows that he can perform it well enough in order to make sure it's a good bit.
So I think that's quite an important thing and something that [00:11:00] I've noticed, some comedians not. Some comedians except the easy laugh and the simple life. And I've, I refuse to do that.
Scott Curtis: [00:11:13] And you've got a perspective to write from a lot of your. Humor comes, at least at the beginning comes from the, how people perceive you as being confined to a wheelchair.
So you've got obviously something original work from, but the way you do it in the storytelling mode is I guess it's it's something that draws you in and it has it has teeth to it and. The other thing is, I've watched quite a few rear clips and you seem really comfortable up there.
You seem to have no fear at all of public speaking.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:11:51] Yeah, I it's a very comfortable wheelchair. That's great. So I do think that is a lot of it. I think just sitting there and there's a lot of [00:12:00] authority, I think, in, in the, I just sitting there, I very calm. I'm just sat down having a chat with you and yeah, this is.
Funnier than anything you've ever thought of. I think that is important. And that does make a difference. Yes, I am comfortable on stage now. It's been six, seven years, got to getting out seven years I've been doing it. And I think that part of that comfort comes from The sky was paying in my favor, and I've always thought this about comedy, particularly a, but we go on stage and we say the thing we've been working on for three months, six months, five years, depending on what the bit is, and yes, you can say things in the moment and, we pride ourselves on being able to do that as well, but you've always got that advantage in the fact that.
The audience member has never thought about this [00:13:00] for a second. They don't know how it's supposed to go. So when you dictate how you wanted to go, you're in complete control. And the other thing to bear in mind with that scenario is about heckles and all of this kind of things that people build up in their mind of like of, United it's like the first thing that people ask you when they find out you're a comic is give a how'd you deal with echoes and.
Hey, that didn't happen. As often as he tactic. That was great. There's never going to be a situation where you are less experienced in dealing with a HECO than a heckler is in giving that heck yeah. They see you on stage and they go, Ugh, it's called start up company. Right? Shout out. And I've had that probably 30 times just thought of it.
And they think they're the funniest person in the world. And then you just take all the material you have about able-bodied people. And instead of pooling all labor body [00:14:00] people, you ask them what their name is. And when they say it's Jim or Dave or whatever you just say. Yeah. So Dave has this thing about disabled people and he thinks this and this, and then people think you're a genius that you've come up with all of these observations about this one guy off a hackle, you haven't by any everybody person.
So I think. That's where that confidence comes from is that I know that a I'm driving. I got the microphone in my hand, I've got a hundred people listening to what I have to say, and I am in complete control of where that conversation goes to. But B even if I do let go of the control, I know where it's going.
I've been in, I've driven on that road before and they haven't. I think that's why I feel so comfortable in that kind of scenario because of, it's just, I know all the. The cards were in my favor because the other thing about it, no, I didn't do I have the experience of someone checking out.
[00:15:00] Oh, but for me personally, when somebody does shout out, the audience is straight on their back and I can say anything as long as it's quick, that will laugh and we can move up. And I think that's a really safe place to start from. And quite often, I think it's interesting what you said about that you're still looking for people to be funny, whether they have no arms or legs or whatever.
And I agree with that. And I think what's interesting though, is I do think people lower their guard for just a second. And if you can get them in that second where they're like, Oh, I'm not sure if this guy is going to be funny. And then you have a really quick, funny joke and everyone relaxes. Then I've got them.
So my first joke is often just one word and it's or because I can meet out getting on. I, by that point, I've got them. So I know it's going to be a good set from that on, yeah, I am pretty comfortable on stage now. And I'm guessing you've only watched the videos that are online, which I'm [00:16:00] not going to lie.
The good ones. Yeah. If you want to listen to me dying on my ass, I've got plenty of those.
Scott Curtis: [00:16:08] You keep all those too,
Aaron Simmonds: [00:16:09] right? Yeah, absolutely. If I get too cocky, I'd just bring one of them out right down to a,
Scott Curtis: [00:16:17] do you, I know that in your bio, that you're a personal trainer. How do you. Approach going on stage because I've got some guesses, do you approach it?
And the fact that it's your job to just slay that audience. And if you do then you won the game or do you feel like. It's a push and pull between the audience. You feel like you owe something to the audience and you need to earn that respect.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:16:49] I don't think of it as a competition.
I it's not me versus the audience because I don't think anybody goes to a comedy night, not wanting to have a good time. I think that's a [00:17:00] fundamental thing to remember is these people have paid 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds. It's I would say a tool show. You. You it's your job to make sure they have a good night.
There are certain times where that is against you or that certain times where it just doesn't go your way and that happens. But no, essentially I think that it's not a confrontation. And so the, if you go look, I've got to tell you some jokes. If you listen, I know they're fun. If you laugh, I'll keep telling funny stuff.
If, and we'll go from there. And the 20 minutes will be a lot more fun than if you're shouting and facing the wrong way and all this kind of stuff. So I think it's more of a, sort of an unwritten agreement between the audience and the collector, both try and make each other have as good time as possible.
I think that's been exaggerated now, the fact that we're doing so much stuff over zoom and you look at something like sporting events where they don't have [00:18:00] a crowded it's making a real difference. And I think that sort of highlights saying how important those kinds of things are to the people who are, trying to do their job, whether it's football, whether it's comedy, whatever.
I think it does make a real difference. And I think that if you have people who are again, trying to be antagonistic, then again, you can play off that. But I think most of the time, if you go with the premise of okay, let's tell some jokes if they like it a lot. And you go from there and I think that's the attitudes that I have towards that.
Scott Curtis: [00:18:35] Let's talk about writing. You said that you're always thinking about comedy and writing stuff down on an average week. Let's talk an average week. How many jokes do you think that you churn out? Not just the ones that you're going to use, but the ones that you're going to throw away too.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:18:54] In the last, however long we've been at upon debit about six.
So I [00:19:00] very much when knocked down, so in the UK, we're locked out at the minute, so we're not allowed our houses or anything like that. When that first happened, I just couldn't write anything. I was just like, no, I'm not going to be saying any of this stuff, so I'm not gonna be writing any of that stuff.
And, but I would say it's a difficult one because I tend not to write joke jokes at all, like standalone jokes. I will. Probably be more focused on when I am writing is getting a bit that is, story or an observation or that routine. And they're like let's see if I can squeeze bring the final out 11 more, get one more joke into that one would, Oh, can I add this into that conduct?
Cannot go. Can I get cool back in there? Those kind of things. I would say I try to do that. So once, every couple of days, like I don't actively force myself to sit down and write. If I sit down and write a [00:20:00] laptop, it's going to be dope shit. That is just not the way my brain works. But I think that I personally believe the best way of writing is to write.
Record lesson, add it and pay you, go and you go and stay to the couple of days is try them out. See how they work. Oh, let's play the nineties. I yeah, you on stage. With an idea. Like I try not to like fully write the idea down now. Like before, when I first started, it was very much learn what you're going to say.
I think that was I wasn't getting them out of stage time that I would have liked. I was only able to do it once, twice a week because of my job now that I didn't have a job. Yeah, and I was doing it five, six, seven times a week. And for much longer, I could go on little bit more free, little bit, trust myself in order to make those jokes and make them work.
I'd say [00:21:00] you, you say them with a rough idea of what you want to do. I tend to have the final punchline sorted that I know I can play around with the bit in the end. And I still got like in the back pocket and then once. What'd you come off stake record everything you do always record. There's absolutely no reason not to record a gig.
Like it doesn't have to be video. It can be audios if you know what your face does during a gig, but Like I know what my face does. It's been said in several different reviews that I've got good eyebrows. I don't know what that means. You are welcome to.
But I know what my face does, so I will record it orderly and just put it in the pocket. I like it doesn't have to be great. It does not. The only reason to listen to it is so that you have that objectivity when you come back to listen to it because you can gig and you can think you smashed it and you can get gig and you think he died in your ass.
And I guarantee you, when you come back to listen [00:22:00] to it later, it is going to be buying in the middle button. It may be, instead of say smashing it as a hundred and Diana Ross is zero. It may not be 50 50, but both of those things, it may be 70, 30 or 60 40 or whatever, but it won't be as bad as you think it is.
Or won't be as good as you take it in, right? Because when you're performing, you don't want to be trying to think, Oh, how can I make that joke slightly better? You want to be that in the performance and make the most of it. So if you can relax and say, look, I've got that audio, no matter what I say in the moment, I'm going to remember it because it's going to be that until I listen to it next week, then you can make the decision of what you're going to do next.
So you try stuff out, see if it works, come back, listen to it. And these resellers I think a lot of the time I remember when I first started, I had the phrase never gets a laugh, but I liked that joke. And I was like, what are you [00:23:00] doing? The organist is telling you, it's not a good joke. Yeah. I like, maybe it's because I'm dead inside.
And the, I just, I have, people think of that joke is babies. Are they like the idea of babies? By If something doesn't, if the audience is telling you time off the time of the time, this is a funny, and it doesn't mean that you have to get rid of it and never use it ever again, because it could be one of those things that it just doesn't work in that routine or in that show or that time.
In the world, like there were routines that I have that don't work during COVID and there are times and there stuff that's going to be COVID related that won't work in six months time. But I think that if you can be, I think if you can be a good agitator, Your writing will look after itself. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:23:50] I I totally agree with the recording because you are definitely not in an objective place when you're on the stage, because I have totally [00:24:00] misread.
Jokes and actually my entire act and thought eater. Exactly what you said. I either thought I killed when I didn't or I thought I totally sucked and it turned out it wasn't that bad, but it's all, you're trying to be in the moment and you're trying to be as good as you can. And then if you get the self doubt and stuff like that, going then, it just totally messes you up.
And the other thing is those jokes. You talk about the people won't let go of. That's a totally an ego thing. And I had a couple in the beginning that I thought I'm going to keep saying these until somebody laughs. And then I finally had to say, okay, it's time to it's time to bury you. You're done.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:24:47] the longest joke that you left in that never got a laugh? It
Scott Curtis: [00:24:52] was a joke about my My wife and I. Going, Oh, it was a girl. [00:25:00] No, that's not the one, the longest one, because I, it was a longer story and I had tags was a grocery store, a joke about how I don't like the way people just hang out at the grocery store.
My job is to get in and get out as fast as I can. And I talked about cashiers and stuff like that. Now it's something that I may bring back. Because I, now that I'm a little bit more seasoned, I think I can do stuff with it, but it was, it was just awful because it was too long to the punch. The tags were too far apart.
It was just it wasn't good.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:25:35] Yeah. No, I've had plenty of those. Yeah, again, kill your babies.
Scott Curtis: [00:25:41] Now, thinking about your style of humor. There's I really, I wrote there's a lot of styles, but the two main ones are, I think of our storytelling along with observation and there's the rapid fire one liners and the difficulty for somebody who does rapid fire [00:26:00] one-liners is I got to write a lot of stuff to fill the time and the difficulty you have.
With storytelling is that you have to have enough tags during the story that people laugh, but you gotta have the big one. You gotta come to a head of the joke. The, it really pays off and that's. That's really difficult because I do a similar style as you in that. And it's really difficult to make sure you're keeping the attention and also getting the big payoff at the end.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:26:35] Yeah, I know what you mean. I think I, I always found that was how I was funniest naturally. In real life before I did stand up, it's like a story. And I always had a sense of where that big laugh goes at the end. My big thing about being a storyteller is you're right. There is a lot of pressure in order to get that big laugh and joke.
Always justify why you've talked about a subject for [00:27:00] five minutes to have this big pile off, but that's the reason why I want to be a storyteller. Like you can just get a bigger laugh. Then you could by just having one, one joke after another, you can build to this big conclusion.
And that is how I've always found it easier to write. What I found about being a storyteller is that when I was doing five minute spots around with other people who were doing five minutes spots, I was of a very similar level. To them. And then the longer that the sets became, the more I stood out, because I could tell more stories, but also it didn't feel like it was a massive jump for me to go from five minutes to 10 minutes.
Cause I was like, Oh I'll tell you another story. Whereas if you're doing five minutes of one-liners, that's. Twice as much work in order to be able to fill that time [00:28:00] and then more so to make sure that those one-liners are different kind of one-liner to the one before. Whereas with stories, I didn't find like it was that tricky because there's always something else to talk about.
And I've done a lot of stupid things in my life. Like very easy to talk about. Yeah, no I always liked the fact that. It meant that you could it's tricky, like you say, of keeping that retention and like on a Friday and Saturday night where people are getting absolutely hammered, do you have enough short jokes within a story in order to be able to tell them is tricky?
Again, I think one of those things of coming from a different perspective and showing them something they haven't seen before in terms of going, Hey, have you ever had sex with disabled toilet? Not right. Can we hear more? So I think there are ways around that. But I do think it does make a big difference.
Having that, just having an angle and having a reason to talk about it. I think that's because that's very different [00:29:00] between the UK and the U S . So my main sort of. Writing gear is revolved around Edinburgh shows. So I try and write at hours new show every year, and it's based on a story of my life.
So my last one was about what happened to be between 2017 and 2018. And then what happened between actually a couple of years before that? I got give it a nickname about being in a wheelchair. I wanted to write a show all about it. The nickname was hallway will switch. I'll be honest. I'm delighted with it's a great nickname, but so yeah, I think just having that reason to talk about something makes a huge difference of like it, I think you need both of those things.
A reason to talk about it being an interesting subject and something that's going to be engaging to people and that big punk slide and having those tacks along the way. Yes. That's a lot of things to put into position, but if you get those things into position, [00:30:00] you go with it. So that's where I sit in terms of the storytelling.
It's In a way it's hard work, but if you put that hard work in, you get bigger results, right?
Scott Curtis: [00:30:11] Thinking about your style and the way audiences react and bobbing and weaving the that you can do the. When you're in a narrative like yours, do you have any room at all to move around bits and stories?
If you're losing an audience, do you have, can you bring that one? That's the second to last joke under the middle, just to bring them back. Do you do that or do you just pretty much stay with the outline?
Aaron Simmonds: [00:30:41] I don't have any sort of get out of jail. Cards, I don't have any sort of real bailouts for stories.
I do think I back myself, like nine times out of 10, like carrying on with the original [00:31:00] story is going to be better than try to buy it out, but we'll try, run away through that. I will say just trust myself as a comic now. That if it's not going well, that I'll be able to deal with it. And then I can invite interaction and I've done enough EMC.
Like I know that I can do that well, and I have that skill. If that, if for example, I was doing a gig and I started mumbling and I'd be like the story. I want to know what you're gossiping about. I used to work in the gym. I have no gossip. Please tell me all the gossip. Either you start talking about what are their sex life and then you go from there.
And and then I think one of the things that I'm seeing and seeing taught me is if you can go from what they're talking about into another story, So it feels like you just throw to that. It makes a huge difference. And if you can get those people that are not quite very they're not quite as engaged as they were, that it makes a big difference in terms of like it, [00:32:00] I think there are some times that you can just pick up those key people.
Oh, you know what? I'm interested in about drugs. Okay. That's fine. What would you like me to talk about that document? But at the same time, it says a hundred people in the audience and two of them aren't listening. Fuck. Yeah. Interested in the 98% of people who are listening and enjoying what I'm saying.
And then, the two decades in the front row gang, I think is nice as a firm envision express. I think they're from the backside of this. What do you think? But, yeah. So I think it's a difficult balance. Yeah.
Scott Curtis: [00:32:34] So when you started getting the critical claim that you got how did that affect you?
You. Yes. It's honestly coming fairly early in, in your career because a lot of folks don't get there until, 10 years.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:32:49] Yeah. I believe in bigger egomaniacs than it was before. Other things I think it has come quickly and I recognize that. I'm very lucky to be in the position that I am like a [00:33:00] some key things happened at the right time for me.
And if, so that BBC thing that you're talking about, it literally came when I had five minutes of material and like my five minutes was significantly better than my 10 minutes and that I got that. I was like, Oh, okay. Now I need to write a decent 10 minutes. And all of these things just clicked into place for me, which is really nice.
And I definitely don't take that for granted. Yeah, it's I don't tend to stop and think too much, which I think is not particularly healthy way Tyrone on with your life. But I think that even though I have achieved a lot of success in the seven years that I've been going it's not where I set myself.
That's not the finish line to me. And I think a lot of my previous experiences is bit about starting something really well, having a lot of potential in something and then stopping for a variety of different reasons. And I don't want to do that with comedy. And yes, it's lovely that [00:34:00] nice people have said nice things about me.
I don't, I'm not say I'm not taking that for granted, but. It's no, it's not the finish line. Like I don't want, in 10 years time, I don't want to be telling people about how I was BBC new comedian at VFI, less than 2017. I want to keep improving and keep having other things to talk about. I'm like keep having different police cars come pass for a flat 10 minutes.
Maybe get a bigger flat where there are more police cars. Maybe an ambulance or two, dream the dream of maybe a fire truck one. But yeah, no, it's nice. I'm not, I think it'd be so challenged to be like, Oh yeah, no, nothing good ever happened. I appreciate everything that's happened to me, but I also think it happens because I work hard.
The harder I work, the luckier I get, I've always described. To that. But one thing I had very early on in my comedy career was a quote. I think it's from James cordon. He says, everybody gets [00:35:00] lucky, but you have to be ready for when the luck comes. Another huge thing for me, because at that time it did seem like this world was impenetrable. And like when you're an open spot, the, I like how you get to attend to get a 10 minute spot on the pro bell cinder possible because there's thousands of people that could do that tens, but as well, if not better than you. So it's about how do you get to that next level.
And so I remember thinking when I heard that. Okay. So a lot of it isn't in my control, but the things that are in my control or getting better, I'm working harder. And so when that BBC thing came along, I'd got a five minutes at that was good enough to be in that show. And good enough to get me to the final.
Now I could have quite easily not. I think it was very lucky that I got picked. That first out of the 600 people that applied, I was good enough what I [00:36:00] did. And from that point, that meant that I got a nice video out of it, which meant I could send much writers, which meant I got more open spots. And then I carried on writing and writing got 20.
And then and then I, I. Because I did that BBC thing, the BBC asked me to do another show for them the following year in Edinburgh. And my agent came, see that show because he, one of his clients was already, that was also performing in that show again, that's lucky, but that didn't mean my agent signed to me because he saw me do five minutes that he'd seen me do before.
All right. He then went to see the show. It was I'd written that I liked the I'd worked really hard on that. I had a 45 minute show. That was good. I didn't mind that he then see that and then he signed me. So it's this kind of stuff of being like, whether you. When you get the lock is completely random and not in your control, but what you do with it [00:37:00] completely.
Yes. And so I think that's important and that is what drives my work ethic to make sure that there are, there's going to be lucky things along the way, but I'm going to make the most of them because that is what, that's the reason why I've been successful up until this point. And that's why I'm going to continue to be successful hope for
Scott Curtis: [00:37:19] one of the common threads with.
Comedians that I've talked to the do well fairly early is that they have been, you talk about the luck. They've been thrown into something that they thought they weren't ready for, but it turns out they had been working hard enough that they were ready for it and they Excel at it. And that actually propelled them.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:37:43] Yeah. I've, I have got that in, in some areas. No. So certain areas where you jumped the gun and you're not ready and it's how you back. Like I remember I did my first open 10 spot, a pro gig way [00:38:00] too early. I think I was about six months in. And I'd written 10 minutes that was getting okay.
Laughs. At a open mic night. And then I went to a program and you have professional comedians doing absolute Bulletproof 20. I know I'm that, with the hack material, it just didn't work. And it, I think I got away with it to a certain degree, but the promoter watch. Just doesn't like even now does a booklet and that's because they have this attitude.
Oh, he's an open Micah. Whereas, you wait a little bit longer or there's not even necessarily wait if you, he just deal with that situation slightly better than you have a different outcome. But yeah, no check there. I think there were a lot of things that I probably wasn't as ready as I would've liked to have been for doing live.
And then I just been able to. Do well with them. And go from there. I think those kinds of experiences happened the more [00:39:00] comfortable and confident that you are in your ability. So the longer you do it or the harder you work like you're right. It's like I can start it on stage with nothing but bad and I'd be quite comfortable and I can talk.
And I'm fairly sure that I could make something funny and I could make laugh for 20 minutes quite comfortably. Whereas. When I first started, I can do that. And even just the idea of five minutes would make me uncomfortable. And so I think the more comfortable you can get in your own skin and understanding what you do that makes people love is going to make you a better comic in any situation.
At FYI is going to make you get laid off.
Scott Curtis: [00:39:45] Oh, man. That's funny. I've been with the same woman for 37 years. So that's not what I'm going through
Aaron Simmonds: [00:39:52] that. See, that's the rookie era like
[00:40:00] Scott Curtis: [00:39:59] Oh man. Yeah. Okay. That's good. So you did mention at the top that you have bombed and bombing as part of. What comedy is, how do you regroup after a bomb? What do you do?
Aaron Simmonds: [00:40:14] Gavin stage as quickly as possible? So I, that was one of the reasons why I was really SCAD of doing I don't not engage during the fast lockdown is because my way of dealing with a bomb is to just get on stage as soon as I can.
Do either jokes that I know work or do some of staff or just play around, have some fun, no pressure. And I was worried that if I did a gig, just silence, essentially, because the audience Mike too, the tech wasn't there at the beginning of lockdown. Cause no one knew how to run an online gig.
It would feel like I was bombing and my solution to feel like you're bobbing. Gallo stage again, wouldn't be possible for you [00:41:00] to a year. And I would feel like I was like dying. I'm like, I remember my last gig before lockdown was a really good gig and I was like, no, I've got that in the bank. Let's stick with that just for an online gig.
But yeah, I I think that, that's my only sort of real Technique to deal with bombing is, I think there are lessons you can learn on, mistakes you have made that you don't want to repeat. But I think, learn lessons that are not necessarily true. So like I remember the worst I've ever bombed was and there's like village, whole kind of thing.
I don't know if you have a, a similar set up, but he was basically just like a bar, really dingy bar, but it was just really small town, but everyone went from the child and it was that like local hub and really long, thin room. I was like, okay, this is either a ride or die [00:42:00] situation.
Like we can't have it. Okay. Good gig in this place. And I was down in the meadow and the opening act did wow. And I was like, okay, this is going to be a good gig. It's fine. And during the interview interval, I realized that I wouldn't be able to go from the back of the room in between all the people, because there was no room for a chair.
So I had to carry my chair over all of the audience during the interval and sit by the stage and I was just sat there. And then there was the two goals. On this table, I'm one of them said to me, a do you get nervous? I turned to her and I went, nah, not anymore. I'm really good. And at that point I knew I was going to die.
Why would you say I know why you've said that they're good looking girls that you want to impress the book after you've done well or even better be modest of you've gone well, and then you get the best of both worlds, but. So I got to say, I died on my own. It was so horrific. It was silence for 20 minutes, [00:43:00] nothing.
And it was at the point in my career where I was still applying to all the gigs that I was doing. No one was asking me to do an effect. But these, this was like the first game that I'd been asked. Specifically for, and I was chuffed about it and after I died in my house, Oh, for 20 minutes The MSA came back and said, I was like, and the irony of this place runs to have a quick word out.
Could you just stay here? I was like, no, I want to get off this stage as quick. Just the head on it turns out that they invited me to perform. Because they had just made a disabled toilet and they wanted to open the disabled toilet for them.
So I had to open the toilet, like with big, giant scissors and like I like, okay, so we're just going to film this. So could you be happy? I was like, be happy. I'm just dying of my house [00:44:00] open and I just fucked up into the toilet man. And I waited until those girls left before I came out. Yeah, no, it was horrible.
Horrible, but the reason why I bring that up, because, Hey, it's a funny story, but Bay, so there are lessons that you can learn that. Baby, don't say that you're very good at comedy before you've done the game. That is asking, that's asking for a death, but. The things that you can learn that not true because of that gig, is that the material that I did.
Is not good. I might've done one or two things at the beginning of that gig, the chance, the whole audience off me. And then nothing that I can say will change that and say, you can be like, Oh my usual closer. Isn't good anymore. Because of that one gig with, with a neutral audience, not even with a good audience with a neutral audience that works.
Stick [00:45:00] with that figure out the things you did before the gig June, the beginning of the week, the major die. And don't worry about the things that happened because you were already dying because once you're dying, you start stumbling and forgetting words. And you'd never do that when you're doing well.
Like it, no, like no comic has ever forgotten a word. Yeah. What a routine is flying. That's not the way our brains work when it's, what is easy. It's easy. So don't stress too much about what you did when it was at work, because that's hopefully a rare occurrence. And if it's not, maybe you shouldn't be doing comedy.
Scott Curtis: [00:45:37] No doubt. So this is something I like to ask everybody because comedy is always a community. Sometimes it's a. Not the nicest community in the world, but it's always a community. What is the best and worst advice you've gotten in the seven years you've been doing stand up or sit down.
[00:46:00] Aaron Simmonds: [00:45:59] Yeah, there you go.
Fast track. Best advice. Not be ready for when the luck comes is genuinely the thing that makes the biggest difference. I think a lot of the worst advice tends to come from people who are offering joke advice after a show. I'd be like, so you do a show. It'd be like, Oh, you thought about doing this one thing.
So I, mentioned. Like disable coconut show. It was about the time I got trolled on the internet for not being disabled. And I talk a lot about my disability and his disability and how they interact and all that kind of stuff. And yeah, people would come up to me after the show and be like, Oh, did you think about this?
And I'm like, yes, of course. I thought about that. It was the first thing that I thought of. But the problem with that is you thought about it. And if you thought about it, everybody else in the audience and therefore I can't use it. And yeah, [00:47:00] one of the things I remember hearing about that is when you're thinking about doing a joke on Twitter of something topical, don't do this, the.
Thing that comes the first thing that comes to your mind. Cause everyone thinks of that. Don't be the second thing that comes to your mind because the smart ass is think of that. Do the third thing that comes to your mind because that's what comedians do really is have to be able to get to that third dig as quickly as muggles can get to that first leg.
That's the real scalp. Yeah, that, yeah, I don't have much time for Audience suggested material. Particularly I, everybody people were suggesting the jokes I could do about being in a wheelchair that stay in your lane. Toilets.
Scott Curtis: [00:47:46] I can't tell you how many friends and family members have given me.
Advice and jokes that have seen me perform and they don't fit with me at all. And I'm [00:48:00] like, did you watch, because I can't go from talking about. My kids for five minutes to all of a sudden I'm like an eating ass joke. I can't, it just doesn't, it doesn't work. So
Aaron Simmonds: [00:48:16] that is a hard segue that we got from one to the other.
I'd say it's probably my least favorite subjects that I've heard most often since that in comedy is, Oh, you can use that one. Yeah, not that riles me. No, like anytime you're in any kind of situation, like I think it happens more family get togethers then like social get togethers, but like anytime there's anything funny, someone goes, Oh, you can do stop.
No. Six people who all know who my aunt Shirley is doesn't mean that an audience of people who [00:49:00] don't know who she is going to find it even remotely funny right now. All I got,
Scott Curtis: [00:49:08] I did want to discuss, talk about the podcast a little bit, because if you're a comedian and you don't have a podcast these days, it seems like something's wrong with you. Tell me about the podcast.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:49:19] So it is all about superiors. It's essentially a comedians talking nonsense about superheroes for about half an hour.
And so what happened is locked down. One came about, I hate wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. So I watched all the Marvel movies and I thought what would be like, wouldn't it be great to be iron man or whatever. And then I thought. It'd be even better. If you could pay a combination of all of these people.
And so you could have this, the head of tardy stock and the upper body of how could, the legs of captain America. And so I was trying to work out what my ultimate hero would be. And I think I came up with 27 different attributes into a hero including [00:50:00] different right hand to left hand, different right wrist and left wrist.
It was a good three or four days that I spent on this. I then. I was having a chat with a couple of comments that I'm friends with them. They asked me what I'd been up to. And I was like I've come up with this algebra CV and what would you take? And then they absolutely tore apart. And they were like, no, you best, you gotta have that.
You gotta have that. I was the most fun I'd had. In sort of five, six months and I thought, fuck it. This is a podcast idea. I said, that's what it is actually. I get two guests who try and come up with that ultimate superhero by combining different body parts or superheroes. And we chat about which one we would prefer and what would they do if they had that in real life and lots of really hypothetical silly questions.
And it's just a sort of silly,
Scott Curtis: [00:50:42] sounds like fun. And it's called silly superhero.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:50:47] Close I've made it needlessly complicated. This title it's called the silliest Superfest hero. Whist podcast. There you go. There you go. Yeah, it sounded funny when I said it the first time, I don't have to say it [00:51:00] every time I get harder and harder, you'd think I'd be quite good at saying it now, like I said, I text you three or four takes every single time I do a podcast, but the thing about it, it's I'm okay with me having to do three or four takes. But I now that I'm promoting it, a bit of radio shows and they're like, yeah, They have to work up to it.
They have to have a runoff, that's it? They're like, okay. Silliest supers here. Okay. Let's do it. And then they go and it's I feel like I've put Greg Hart a lot of work for other podcasts, so I feel bad about it. Nothing I can do about it now. Yeah,
Scott Curtis: [00:51:32] I can't wait to do the read and try to read that.
So that's a tongue twister, so we'll see how that works for me. So where can people find you if they want to catch you on social media? Yeah.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:51:43] It's right. So it's at rolling comedian. Rolling, like rolling down a Hill, not as a J K Rowling. I've used some trans people. I was in. Next out of those guys are all girls or in-between because gender is fluid really conveyed.
It is what I meant to say. And yeah. So if you want to check out the [00:52:00] podcast is on all the usual places and to get to our website, Aaron Simmons, comedy.com.
Scott Curtis: [00:52:06] All right. Do you have any plans when things open up to come to the States and give it a shot?
Aaron Simmonds: [00:52:11] I would love chair. It there's there were plans in place before the global pandemic happened.
So I am planning on doing it at some point, whether or not those plans can go ahead as soon as they would have before. I don't know. But yeah, no, I don't know any comic. That wouldn't want to go to other States for at least a little bit. But yeah, no if you guys can be confined me big enough venues with enough people who wants to listen to this guy, talk for an hour and a half, I will be there.
Scott Curtis: [00:52:43] I th I think you'd go over well, and heck you could come now, but it's, you're almost guaranteed to get COVID and then who knows? The hospital has room for you because we just don't give a shit. And it's
Aaron Simmonds: [00:52:58] it's a good way. I [00:53:00] have performed in America before I've done a couple of gigs in New York.
I lived there for five years ago now. Yeah, they were really fun. I think here I'm just disabled. Either that I'm disabled and English or
yeah. How many books I'd say. Yeah, no, it's not a good time in the U S I'd love to come back. Great.
Scott Curtis: [00:53:25] It's been great having you on the show. I'm glad we connected and I'm glad I learned some stuff from you.
Aaron Simmonds: [00:53:32] I learned soft from you as well.
A couple of these eggs in there.
Scott Curtis: [00:53:43] All right. Thanks for being on the show. I appreciate it, Aaron.