Performer: Tom Houghton Photograph by: Steve Ullathorne Show: Tom Houghton: The Honourable Venue: Pleasance – Jack Dome Promoter: Phil McIntyre Entertainments Online: Box Office Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
As if living in The Tower of London wasn’t special enough, I’ve just been made ‘The Honourable”. As you do. Not by my own merit of course, my dad’s just been made a lord. I don’t feel like it’s a title that particularly suits me, I’ve been sacked from Weatherspoon’s twice. So the show is about me trying to figure out what being honourable really is.
Tell me about your first gig.
A long time ago I was working behind the bar and a club. A comedy night was put on. Id always wanted to do it and so I asked if I could have 5 min between the acts. They said yes. Looking back I can imagine how annoyed the comics must have been coz I was taking up time and making them have to stay later. Anyway, I went on and did a load of jokes that id got off the internet. When I asked the comics for any tips they all said “You should write you own material”. I thought ”you write your own?’. I had no idea
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I always stretch off like I used too before rugby matches. Helps me get in the zone. Also, I jump around a lot on stage so I think it’s just sensible.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
There was a review that annoyed me from last year. It essentially bashed me for being a Tory, despite me having absolutely no political leaning at all in the show. I think what happened is the reviewer had seen that I was talking about being posh and wore chinos and so had labelled me as something he hated. My best review was undoubtedly the Daily Telegraph. They were super kind and it was definitely responsible for me selling out the run within the first week. I get the feeling the audience definitely were Tories.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
Oh yeah. I get the argument as to why you wouldn’t, but I’m far too interested in what people thought of the show
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
In my experience they can help you massively. On the other hand a bad review can cripple you. People say it’s just one person’s opinion. Well, yes, but it’s an opinion lots of people will see. It’s all part of the game.
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?
The problem with what he did was that the joke wasn’t strong enough to justify the deliberately shocking premise. What I found more offensive was the fact he is labelled a comedian. He doesn’t do the circuit, writing actual routines. Uploading 15 second YouTube clips doesn’t make you a comedian, in the same way if I decide to cook a meal it doesn’t make me a chef.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
I don’t think any subject is off topic. Having said that, you have a responsibility as a comic to judge what themes are appropriate for what situation. If you’re going to tackle taboo subjects, you better make sure those jokes are good enough to justify that.
Have you ever gone too far?
Absolutely. Going too far is going to happen. You have to figure out the boundaries by crossing them. Its mainly getting annoyed by people talking then shutting them down but realising you haven’t put any humour in it. With my old group, we once sang a song to a bride on her hen do, went too far and ended up with a crying woman on stage. It was awful.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
I did my first solo tour this year. It’s a big moment having left my group and wanting proper validation. the Soho London run was a really rung in the ladder of my career. first night I remember walking out and all the Beefeaters fans their family had come along from the Tower. That was quite a feeling.