Brennan Reece was voted English Comedian of the Year 2015 and has been touring extensively since. He sat down with The Reviews Hub’s Fraser MacDonald to talk about his first gig, Glasgow audiences and being a straight, white man.
Brennan’s comedy journey began six years ago, when he fancied giving stand-up comedy a go. He jokes that things got drastically out of hand, but his hobby-turned-career is clearly something he loves. “I never knew that you could do it as an actual job, but my first gig went well, second did well too but my third one went terribly. But by that point, I was bitten by the bug and I just had to keep going”.
Since then, he has been around the country and further beyond, but without any real forward planning. He says that he takes every gig as it comes but still finds it as surprising now to be paid for a gig as it was for his first paid slot; “At the end of the gig, I got a tenner and couldn’t believe that I actually got that for telling some of my jokes”.
Hurdles must be overcome at any stage of a career, but the ones he’s jumping over now are a different kind to those when he first started. In his early days, flack from other – notably older – comics was the norm, which nearly prompted him to stop (but his mum wouldn’t let him). But with regular appearances on TV and a pretty full diary, he’s now just keen on ploughing on and enjoying what he’s doing.
He’ll be playing Glasgow’s Strand tonight (29 March), which he’s no stranger to. The audiences, he says, “are up for a good old laugh”, compared to their Edinburgh counterparts who may seek something a little more highbrow – an observation that both cities will likely take pride in. Growing up in the North of England is an integral part of his set, which transfers pretty well to Scottish audiences, he says. Though it is not always so easy, as he found out when trying to make a joke about a verruca sock in Australia. Night after night, he persevered until someone put their hand up and asked what a verruca sock was. He hypothesises that the climate must not be right for them over there.
On the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Reece is already getting himself psyched up for his show Evermore, which forms the final piece of his trilogy of shows at the Fringe – though he stresses you don’t have to have seen any of the previous to enjoy this episode. Reece says he remembers the faces of those who come along year after year and he is enjoying building his audience. “It’s a lot better than in the early days when you’d go to a rugby club and the audience would say ‘Well, this isn’t for me’ – so it is nice to have a pretty loyal crowd at this stage”.
He says that being named English Comedian of the Year in 2015 was a welcome boost for someone starting out in such a saturated field. “Being a straight, white man, while there is so much – necessary – emphasis on diversity in comedy, it was really nice to be recognised as being apart from just-another-white-male. It definitely helped progress offers for television and for tour dates out with the UK”.
As a trained actor, you may think Reece is keen to spread his wings and take on some serious acting roles. “I’m at the stage now where I am starting to write bits and bobs, but nothing major. I’ve never had that five-year plan that so many others do. I’m kind of too grateful just now for having a job that I like!”.
Brennan Reece proves to be incredibly down to earth for someone with his success so early into his career in comedy and the future is clearly bright for this young up and coming comedian. As he heads off to Australia after his next round of UK dates, we hope he isn’t packing his verruca socks…
Brennan Reece is at The Stand, Glasgow on March 29 and touring. More information and tickets http://www.brennanreece.com/
Fraser MacDonald | Image: Contributed