Laughing out of poverty and the importance of clean underwear | Geoff Whiting

Standup comedian Geoff Whiting speaks to us ahead of taking the stage at the Eden Comedy Club, St Julian’s on May 24.

Geoff Whiting.
Geoff Whiting.

Your stand-up career was kind of kick-started in an act of desperation - did the fact that it was such a 'last ditch' thing help focus your mind on it? More importantly - how did you manage to relax enough to tell jokes while you were going through that stuff?

I had been made redundant from a sales job and so I lost my company car, my mobile phone and all those things, after three months unemployed my home phone was then cut off too so I had to operate from a local public payphone.

I ran into debt and behind with my rent but at the same time entered a competition for new comedians that was advertised in a national newspaper here. I approached it in a very relaxed way actually because I felt that frankly I had nothing to lose, I was already in debt and unemployed!

I reached the semi final of this national competition and several of the organisers advised me to continue performing and to re-apply the following year, I did so, reaching the grand final at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998. I did not win that final but it kick started a longterm career as a professional comedian, most certainly.

What's funny?

Many varied and different things, I find. I have performed over 4,200 shows and so seen thousands of comedians on stage and it is amazing how diverse they are and how varied the style and the gags but still all funny, some offer 'one liners', word play and so on, some storytelling, some visual gags or music based comedy, others do political material, there is much on offer out there.

Do you think it takes a certain kind of character to become a stand-up comic?

Yes, but how to define quite what that is can be difficult, all one can say is that every stand up is a person happy and able to take the stage in front of a room full of people - this is about the only thing they all have in common. There are quiet guys who do it, extroverts who do it, many are ex teachers, some ex street performers, some are writers who wish to try out their material in front of a live audience, some musicians and even magicians move across to become stand up comedians,

I would say all are 'driven' people - something in them makes them get on stage, this is the best way I can put it, I think.

What would you say are some of the most prominent 'emerging trends' in stand-up comedy, particularly in Britain, and how do you feel about them?

In Britain the comedy clubs in big cities prefer to use male, 25-50 year old 'observational' comedians as a rule, however in London and small UK towns a more diverse bill is often offered, you will see more variety in styles and types of comics,

In terms of the latest trends, I would say younger guys with spiky hair in t-shirts and jeans seem to be popular, occasionally style wins out over substance but some of these guys are actually very talented and they shine through.

This isn't your first time in Malta. What do you remember from your last visit?

On my last visit I managed to lock myself out of my suitcase. I had decided to go for a new high tech one with a lock and code system. Once I got to the Hotel the code ceased to work and the case (with everything I needed for the trip inside it) would not open whatever I tried... I worked on it like a safe cracker for 20 minutes in my room (without success) and eventually a concierge met me at reception and produced a massive pair of bolt cutters with which he cut the locks open, so I no longer having a locking case.

But I did have access to my clean underwear, which seemed more important at the time.

The show starts at 20:30. Tickets at €20 can be purchased by logging on to http://www.edencinemas.com.mt/

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