After following Pete Beckley’s progress throughout the last year, including his winning performance at Costa Light Comedy Challenge, we sent our newest reporter Lorna Jones to meet him for a chat.
You’ve won various awards for ‘New Act’. How long have you been on the circuit?
About four years now, I’ve taken my time to build my act up slowly perhaps only doing a handful of gigs in my first year of Stand-Up. Its been a long time but I’m at the stage now where its finally coming together which is nice.
Your comedic style is quite surreal. Would you consider yourself to be a character comedian?
Yes I think I think I’m a bit of a character, I base my character on this weird friend of mine who works on a IT Help Desk., Well I say friend… I mean… me.
Do your comedy influences come mostly from traditional stand up comedy or from other forms of entertainment like TV, film or radio?
I watched as much live Stand Up comedy as I could from about the age of eighteen onwards purely because I enjoyed the atmosphere of the comedy clubs. I watched acts that included the likes Adam Bloom, Eddie Izzard, Lee Mack, Paul Tonkinson and many more all before they were well known. I’m sure they all influenced me to a certain degree. At that stage I had no idea I would end up performing comedy and was quite shy. I still enjoy watching the other acts perform today (as long as they are not getting quite as many laughs as me). I think Monty Python also was a big influence on me as well. I was in a stage production of Life of Brian at University which was a lot of fun and made a break from studying Computers. It was my first attempt at performing comedy (or anything for that matter) and probably inspired me to give Stand-up Comedy a try many years later.
Do you get nervous before a set? If so, how do you combat it?
Yes I still get a bit nervous but slightly less nervous than I used to get, I usually combat the nerves with a beer and if that doesn’t work I just pretend its all part of the act. At one gig all that was available was as much free coffee as you could drink. I drank a lot, mainly because I like free stuff and didn’t have any beer to drink, this made me much more nervous than usual. However the gig went well, the only down side was that I was unable to sleep for 24 hours after the gig so spent the time feverishly working on my web site www.petebeckley.co.uk (shameless plug)
What has been your most memorable performance to date and why?
I think my most memorable performance was winning King Gong at The Comedy Store, It was great night. Acts try to perform 5 minutes of material without the judges in the audience holding up 3 red cards, which would mean they had to leave the stage. I had only intended to watch as I was on a date and didn’t want to risk performing in front of her, but they were running out of acts as the audience were particularly hard to please that night. They put a call out asking if anyone wanted to have a go, I signed up in the interval and managed to last the 5 minutes and win the joke off. It was a perfect night, and led to me getting to perform at The Comedy Store alongside big names like Milton Jones, Micky Flanagan and Rufus Hound. It’s always great performing there.
You’ve been playing clubs all over the country. How do the crowds differ in response to your set? Where have you had the best reaction?
So far my set seems to go down quite well in most parts of the country, I think one of the best reactions I’ve had is in a comedy club called Comedy In The Green @ComedyindaGreen its just up the road from me in Englefield Green. It’s in a big Social Hall and attracts a mix of locals and students. My stream of weird surreal nonsense seemed to go down quite well and luckily someone from the local paper was in to review it, which was nice.
How often do you introduce new material into your act?
Not as often as I should, but I do try to include some new stuff each performance. Its easy to lose the trust (and the laughter) of the audience if you try to much new stuff that doesn’t work. Last year I compered a comedy club in Staines for six weeks, which forced me to try new stuff every week which was a good learning experience.
Your appearance has been likened to Wolverine from the X-Men (who can recover from any wound, disease or toxin at an accelerated rate). What would be your super power of choice?
I would quite like the ability to self heal instantly, it would have been particularly handy when I fell over a deceptively flat piece of pavement after performing at Staines Comedy Club last year and broke my ankle putting me in hospital and out of action for two months, and before you ask, no I wasn’t drinking coffee that night.