Performer: Jem Brookes Photograph by: Jem’s mum Show: Jem Brookes: Schizophonic Venue: Laughing Horse @ Harry’s Southside Promoter: Indie Online: Box Office
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
Jem Brookes: Schizophonic is a character and sketch show featuring a cacophony of different characters, voices and accents in very short snippets. There are some recurring characters, e.g. Stacey Doolally, the voice of BBC!!!, and the celebrity show I’m an Alcoholic, Get Me Out a Beer!
Tell me about your first gig.
It was at the Purple Turtle in Islington in June 1996, a renowned rockers bar completely unsuited to comedy as the stage was by the front door, which kept opening and closing all night as people entered or left. The MC was a 6 foot transvestite called Richard, and I was meant to be going on second. He fucked up the order and announced me as the first act. I still had a beer in my hand. I raced up to the stage, failed to see the small step in front of the stage, tripped up on it, my beer went all over the MC, the glass flew through the air and smashed on the stage, and I was sprawled at the feet of said transvestite. It brought the house down with the biggest laugh of the night, but I have absolutely no recollection of what happened after that, apart from I was hooked on the adrenaline buzz of the whole thing.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
No, it is a very dangerous thing to rely on silly superstitions because if that thing is not there once, it can really fuck with your mind.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
It’s very difficult to remember any specifically.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
I will if they are written.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
Not many reviewers have much knowledge about comedy in general, as they are temporary placements to fill space in publications.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
Yes, probably under general offensiveness laws, but that is a completely different argument from one’s right to say or publish anything under free speech criterion.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
No. But difficult subjects have to be tackled the right way, especially if you can have a personal experience of said subject, but you still have to remember that it is supposed to be comedy; i.e. there needs to be laughs else what you are doing is not comedy. It is just that you don’t necessarily need laughs every sentence, so that tension can be built and waves of emotion can be built, up and down. Make someone laugh and cry in the same sentence and you have probably cracked it.
Have you ever gone too far?
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
The one that is about to happen.