An exclusive interview with Paul KERENSA

Just in time for our very popular and sold out event Comedians & Carols, here is another one in the series of exclusive interviews by Pete Austin.

Event Date: Tuesday 22nd December – Tickets £10 (Concessions £7) – Sold Out!

Doors open 7pm – 7.30pm start

Paul Kerensa 2011 2An exclusive interview with Paul KERENSA or (in a turn of phrase) – A Portrait of a Comic as a Young Dog, all will be explained later

On December 22 the comedian and writer Paul Kerensa will once again be hosting the Comedians and Carols event at Kettering Arts Centre. It is a gig he has been doing now, pleasurably, for more than five years. He has also organised many of the acts who have appeared at the monthly Rolling in the Aisles Comedy club nights. He is relinquishing this role at the end of December to allow him to concentrate fully on an increasing number of projects.

As a way of thanking him for his support over the years I thought it was an opportune time to talk to him and in doing so, present an insight into the host whom you may have seen many times  but know little about the man himself.

Our telephone conversation took place whilst he was sipping his coffee at a Starbucks (other brands are available). My coffee cup was empty, I didn’t want to knock it over and ruin the notes I was making and it was Paul I wanted to spill the beans, not me.  The following, I hope, will satisfy your curiosity.

Paul Young was born in Cornwall and although making regular return visits to see his relatives, has been living in Surrey since the age of five. The fact that Cornwall makes regular ‘appearances’ in his act can be easily justified.

Comedians & Carols - Paul Kerensa“Surrey is boring compared to Cornwall in terms of comedy material,” said Paul. “There is no other county that can boast a south, north and a west coast. My roots are in Cornwall and I would like to go back there some day but in terms of travelling, it is a long way from everywhere. It would involve a lot of hours driving to and from gigs so is not really practical to live there at present.

“However, my first professional gig, I was 21 at the time,  was in Newcastle which meant a seven hour drive there and a seven hour drive back. I was asked to do the five minute opening slot and I got zero laughs but when you are starting out you do those sort of things, you do a lot of those sort of things.”

Starting out was attending drama school as a young lad, during which Paul took part in several comedy plays but it was not for him.

By way of explanation he said: “I was never very good at learning lines and in one play I skipped a few pages and had killed off one of the characters who was not yet dead, receiving the ‘Thank you very much for stealing my death scene from  me’ comment from the actor in question.

“I thought I’d try stand-up and loved it from the start, so I said to myself to forget acting. With stand up there is no script to follow and no other people to worry about, you only have yourself to deal with.”

It was at drama school that Paul decided to make comedy his career and had to find aComedian-Paul stage name under which to perform – there being a Paul Young already on the books (Google it and you will find a singer and an actor under that name). This leads me to the sub-title to this interview – please see above if you have forgotten.

Paul said: “Kerensa is a traditional Cornish name. I needed a stage name so started off with my mother’s maiden name, but that didn’t work, then I tried my grandmother’s maiden name and when that didn’t work either I asked myself  ‘Just how far back do you go? So looked elsewhere’.  Believe it or not Kerensa is my mum’s dog’s name. It is actually a girl’s name but so what, Hannah is a girl’s name and you have John Hannah. I may be wrong but I believe I am the first to use that name.”

In addition to his stand up routines, where he has appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as all the leading comedy venues across the UK Paul is a script writer for other comedians, having worked on scripts for BBC’s Miranda and Not Going Out series. He has also published two books and, given the time, has ambitions to write a novel. Talks with a publisher have already taken place about the latter but for the man who says he is good at starting things and not always finishing them, it may be some time before that project comes to fruition. A tentative year to 18 months has been muted, in the meantime, Paul has much to keep him occupied.

“I am currently writing for the Chris Evans show TFI Friday which is something very different for me, it being a live show. With sit-coms I have around six months to write material, with this it is working three days a week before the show goes out.

“In the early days my wife used to say to me ‘That’s one of your jokes’ when she was watching a show in which I had written part of the script. That doesn’t happen so much now.

“It is different writing for someone else other than yourself. I usually put a lot of stuff down then work through it. It helps getting into a person’s character when writing material, thinking ‘How would they say that’. Miranda is very visual comedy so you have to write with that in mind.

“I cannot sit at home and be creative, I have to be out and about, that’s why I am in Starbucks at the moment. I pick up on situations, a turn of phrase, a conversation – you need to be around people.

paul-kerensa1“Like every comic, when I started out there were jokes about being single and being dumped by a girlfriend, then it was the marriage jokes and now, having my own family, there are jokes about kids.”

According to Paul being a comedian has become harder since the advent of social media and web site such as You Tube and even cable programmes such as Dave.

“People have expectations now,” he said, “before there were only a few stand-up types of comedy shows on television, such as Dave Allen. Now there is so much more. If I have been to a venue before I try to add something new but it is the atmosphere of a live show that makes it different, even if you are using material with which people are familiar.
“The Comedians and Carols is a good example. Although people may have been to this event in the past I do book different acts but I am still the compare. I try to think of what new jokes I have written during the current year but I will also probably include some older material as well. It is more like hosting a Christmas party than a comedy club and I try to make it as such. It’s my last gig before Christmas so there is magic in the air it’s just trying to create a fun event for everyone.”

As our conversation drew to a close and he went back to people watching and contemplating another new project for early 2016 “I will be starting work on a new show with a well-known famous person from the world of comedy, but I can’t say who” I asked Paul to describe himself in five words. He answered “Tries to be funny, but…”

For a full description of this event please click here for details.

The stand-up comedian and award winning comedy writer, Paul Kerensa (Miranda; the Lee Mack Show; Dead Ringers), will host this evening and will be introducing some of the UK’s best comedy acts to the stage. These will include Wes Zaharuk, Otiz Cannelloni, Andrew Bird plus singer/songwriter Paul Bell who appeared at the 2015 Greenbelt Festival. Continue reading…

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