Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Simon Caine: Barking Mad

By | Published on Friday 4 October 2019

Are you someone who likes dogs? Are you also someone who likes comedy? Have you been dreaming your whole life of being able to combine your love of dogs and comedy somewhere other than in your living room? Well, then, you might just be pinching yourself at the news that this week there’s a dog friendly comedy show featuring comedians performing with dogs on at the Bloomsbury Theatre.

It’s the brainchild of someone we’re proud to call a recent winner of one of our ThreeWeeks Editors’ Awards, comedian Simon Caine. I organised a quick chat to find out more about the upcoming dogtastic event, and about Simon in general.

CM: Right, let’s start with this upcoming comedy night: what can we expect from Barking Mad at the Bloomsbury?
SC: In short, it’s six of the best comedians on the circuit doing their favourite jokes… with their dogs. The added twist is that the audience – if they want – will be bringing their pups to the show as well. I hope it is going to become the cutest comedy club in London.

CM: Which comedians will be appearing?
SC: Tony Law, Joe Jacobs, Edy Hurst, Lulu Popplewell, Angus Dunican and Katie Pritchard. I will be the MC.

CM: What made you want to do a show like this? Where did the idea for it come from?
SC: I love dogs. I love stand up. I don’t have enough evenings in my life to do both…

Plus I’ve seen a ton of shows like the amazing ‘BYOB’ – bring your own baby – comedy club spring up. For people like me – ie childless, but who have a dog – we think of them as our fur babies. And the look of disappointment you get when you close the door on them to leave the house is painful.

So why not bring them with? And all the money is going to Battersea Dogs Home… so you’re also doing a nice thing.

CM: Is it a one off or do you hope to do more nights like this?
SC: Currently it’s a one off. But if all the stars align I want to roll it out monthly – and beyond London. I’ve been in brief talks with people and places about doing a run at the Edinburgh Fringe near the Meadows on weekend mornings.

CM: You recently performed your much-loved-by-us edfringe 2019 show ‘Every Room Becomes A Panic Room When You Overthink Enough’ at The Bill Murray. Are you planning to perform it again anywhere?
SC: I am! I’m currently touring it around the UK with dates this weekend in Bristol and Swansea. I’ve also just signed up for Australia – Perth and Adelaide – and New Zealand – Dunedin and Wellington – for the first time which is so exciting. By which I mean scary!

CM: Will you be heading up to Edinburgh again next year? Do you have a new show in the planning stages?
SC: I am! I’m intending on bringing back up past show ‘2 Truths 1 Lie’, an extended version of ‘Panic Room’, possibly the dog-friendly comedy night and a WIP of a new show which is currently either going to be a comedy play about a couple where one person is very left-brain and one is very right-brain OR a stand up show about thoughts I wish I didn’t have…

CM: Tell us about your podcasts.
SC: The ‘Ask The Industry’ podcast is an award-winning talk radio show for the comedy industry. I interview influential people from the worlds of stand up, comedy, radio and TV, including commissioners and agents, about how to get stuff made.

The ‘Audio Time Capsule’ podcast is ostensibly about time travel but in reality, it’s a chance for the guests to ask themselves things that no other interview does. Guests leave 20 questions for their future self and then a year later come back on and answer them. I then edit it so they’re interviewing their past self.

CM: Let’s go back a bit now: how did you end up going into comedy? Did you always want to be a performer, when you were growing up? Did any particular performers influence you?
SC: My “origin story” into comedy always sounds super cheesy. I was in a job I hated with people who hated it as well but were better at pretending to like it. I went for dinner with an old uni friend and moaned about it for a solid hour and his reply was “well what do you like doing?” and I said “I mean, I love making people laugh”. He said “do that then”.

I Googled comedy course on the way home and found Logan Murray’s course for beginners. I rang him the next day and signed up the day after with £300 I didn’t have.

I think I always wanted to do something in performance. Most of my comedy tastes and things / people I looked up to as a child I don’t like any more. I like comedy which most people don’t. I like things that stretch away from standing with a mic and talking – something I want to move away from and was a big reason I come “off mic” as often as possible in my latest show.

Currently I’m really enjoying the work of Shit Storm and Frank Foucault. I would plug “really well known” acts that inspire me, but I feel like they’re getting enough airplay.

CM: What inspires you creatively?
SC: Narrative-led comedy really gets me going. Also comedy which has some level of substance or nuance – even if I now sound like a prick! I like it when I leave thinking about some of the metaphors or how relatable a joke was but isn’t obviously embedded in my mind.

For example Jordan Gray did an amazing line when MCing a recent gig about how they “leave the front row alone and pick people at the back of the room because it’s like buying milk – all the best ones are at the back”. Still thinking about that months later.

CM: How did you make a start and how have you progressed in your career?
SC: Oh god… progressed? Do you ever know if you’ve come along anywhere? It’s so hard to measure. I have got better on stage and funnier. I wouldn’t have the confidence to take a show to the other side of the world five years ago. And I’ve done some dire gigs which have helped me become more bullet proof. I guess it’s just a daily push / struggle to get better at the writing part and then better at the performing part.

CM: What have been your high points, since beginning?
SC: Selling out the old Comedy Cafe for my first DVD recording was a high point – that was in 2016. As was getting a five star review and an Editors’ Award from Three Weeks this August – thanks again!).

I also loved it when a friend who was going to quit comedy sent me a text, which I still have a screenshot of, in which he said I reminded him “why he loves comedy”. Oh, and in 2015 I had a joke in my show about how I would love to be called the Martin Lurther King Jr Of Comedy from Broadway Baby – it was so specific, and out of context I can imagine it reads weird. On my mailing list one of the past editors of Broadway Baby – who will remain nameless – dropped me a note:

CM: What aims or ambitions do you have for the future?
SC: I want to gain a strong enough following that I can sell out decent sized rooms enough nights of the year that I can focus solely on writing and performing my own stuff. I’ve been building this “fan base” for four years now… so far, so good (ish).

CM: What’s coming up next for you, in the short term?
SC: The dog-friendly comedy night, and I’m doing a meet and greet for comedians to pitch their shows to festivals, and I’m chasing a very exciting guest – a comedian – for a live ‘Ask The Industry’.

‘Barking Mad’ is on at the Bloomsbury Theatre on 12 Oct. See this page here to book your tickets.

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