Preview: Night Owl at the Corpus Playroom

Thomas Hayes 21 October 2021
Image credit: ADC

Footlights member Andy Bucks makes his debut hour of stand-up comedy on the 25th October at the Corpus Playroom, with the ‘series of increasingly severe brain farts’ that is Night Owl (but not a wise one, just stupid)! I sat down with Andy to find out more about his comedy, the set and the process of its creation.

TCS: What can an audience expect from Night Owl, and what’s it all about?

Andy: Well, it’s my first attempt at doing an hour of stand-up comedy, so an audience can expect it to be funny – hopefully! – and the premise is based around the way I come up with material. Usually, I’ll be lying in bed at 2am (you know the deal) and I’m on the verge of sleep, and then suddenly a stupid idea will come to me, and I’ll jot it down on my phone. In the morning, I’ll read the ideas back, and most of the time I’ll think to myself: what the hell even is this that I’ve written down, but then sometimes I’ll find something and think yeah, this is funny! What I’ve realised is that the later I stay up, the weirder the ideas become, so I had the idea to frame the show as though it were the course of a night. It begins at 9:30, and then gets later and later, while material gets weirder and weirder; at the beginning you can expect some relatable stuff, but by the end it has descended into an onslaught of absolute nonsense.

TCS: How did you get into stand-up?

Andy: My first introduction to stand up – and probably what got me into it – was watching my friend’s set. This was here in Cambridge towards the end of my undergrad degree: he invited me along to watch and I realised I’d quite like to try it too – if he can do it why couldn’t I give it a go! I didn’t want to be outdone!

TCS: I know lots of funny people who have considered trying stand-up, but have never made the final step. What do you think differentiates making people laugh in daily life, and making people laugh onstage in a stand-up set?

Andy: They are quite different skills I think; one of the key differences is the shared context you have with your friends if you’re on a night out at the pub – you all know each other and each other’s backstories and relationship drama and all that – but just talking to strangers you have none of that, so have to put all the work in yourself. But aside from that, it’s pretty much the same thing, as you’re just trying to make links between things and surprise people. I always enjoy making my friends laugh, but since I almost considered it part of my identity, I was so worried that if my comedy didn’t translate to stand-up I’d have some sort of invalidating crisis of confidence. In hindsight, that was pretty silly because the two things aren’t exactly the same. That was the mental barrier that I had to get beyond.

TCS: Do you have any advice for freshers who want to get involved with comedy at Cambridge?

Andy: I’d say that just giving it a go is the most important thing! Though it can be difficult, you have to just forget about worrying whether it’ll be good or not, because the first time you try it there will always be things that work and don’t work and that’s just how comedy is. But those bits that do work will feel amazing and it’ll be so worth it. Just do it! F*cking do it!

TCS: Who are your comic inspirations and your favourites to watch?

Andy: In terms of who I look up to, there’s so many people and many of them not professional. I did gigs on the London circuit and there’s so many great acts that no one will have ever heard of that are amazing. I look up to them so much and they have some amazing stuff flying under the radar! As for people at the pinnacle, James Acaster is a favourite of mine, and I also love comedians that just do weird stuff. I saw Elf Lyons and John Luke-Roberts at the Fringe both do utterly insane shows that had a LOT going on – they were just absurd and brilliant and I really enjoyed their sets. I also really like Stewart Lee and definitely tried to be like him when I first started out, but I’m told I’m more of a Mark Watson now!

TCS: How would describe your style of stand-up?

Andy: I feel like my style is kinda silly, but also super nerdy at points. I think that combo sums it up pretty well. A lot of it’s clever but stupid material, if that makes sense – material that’s really just stupid thoughts, but with maybe a few clever jokes in there somewhere?! I hope that the audience like some of the stuff towards the end, as I feel like it might be the kind of thing that they haven’t really seen before, but I don’t want to give too much away!

TCS: What’s your best joke – or do we have to watch Night Owl to find out…?

Andy: Without revealing too much, I think there’s these two short ones in Night Owl – one’s about the philosopher David Hume, and the other’s about going to the toilet – and I feel like since those are my two best that sums me and the show up pretty well!

Night Owl (but not a wise one, just stupid) will be on at the Corpus Playroom on Monday 25 October at 9:30pm; tickets can be purchased for £7.50–£9 at https://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/comedy/night-owl-but-not-a-wise-one-just-stupid/