They say you should never meet your heroes, and most of the time this maxim holds true. However, little does he know it, but Stuart Goldsmith is high on my list of contenders for Nicest Man in Comedy, and today could have been the day my hero worship (and faith in human nature, no pressure) was blown out of the window.
Fortunately Stu proved himself to be a lovely fella, introducing himself to my friends, apologising for the three minutes that he was arguably late and being very understanding that we couldn’t record our interview down a Soho back alley, as I was still clutching my pint. As a result, the following exchange took place next to the bins by the Soho Theatre back entrance. Never let it be said that I’m not a class act.
I asked Stuart to answer three questions in three minutes, and here are the results of our speed interview (anyone who can do maths will be able to spot my sneaky extra question).
Jay Jay: When you write your material, who are you writing for?
Stuart Goldsmith: I am writing for…OK, I’ve got two answers for that. The first, clever clogs answer, is that I’m writing for myself. I’ve got to make myself laugh, if it doesn’t make me laugh, there’s literally no point in doing it.
Then, I suppose, in terms of who my audience are…no, actually, I suppose just for me, for my wife, I like making her laugh…
JJ: But when you write a gag, who are you thinking about laughing…?
SG: Me! I’m thinking about me…my favourite line in the show tonight [Compared to What, which Stuart is about to perform] is looking at someone, and thinking to yourself “you have clearly spent your life making a series of fascinating short term decisions”. That’s my single favourite line in the show. And I love that line because it makes me laugh. It makes everyone else laugh, but it’s a really strong line in the show. And when I wrote it, I was like “Yes! That’s got to work!”.
Very self indulgent, I think you’ll agree! I do visualise an audience laughing, but they’re an amorphous blob…its not like “I’ve got to get those sixteen year olds on board…”
JJ Or like “I know I’ve got this kind of lefty fringe audience…”
SG: Not really, no, I mean…you tell me who my audience is, I feel like I’m not very mainstream; I feel like I’m too mainstream to be a proper curveball left wing comic, I’m not really mainstream enough to be a mainstream comic…I’d go mental if I’d tried to work out who my audience is.
JJ: What do you wake up screaming in the middle of the night?
SG: Nice…I like how open-ended that question is…I suppose, if you’re asking me what I worry about in the middle of the night, I sleep pretty soundly, and I sleep the sleep of the just…no, no I can’t say that!! I sleep well, and I like waking up in the middle of the night cause when I go back to sleep again, having been woken up, I tend to dream better.
If you’re asking what I’m obsessed with, what preoccupies me, when I’m worried I suppose its the usual – getting old, death, what it’s going to be like when my friends start dying…
JJ: Has this all become more pressing since you had your family?
SG: No, I’m so much happier now that I’m a dad, now that my family is a big sort of solid core.
JJ: Well, this leads us on to the final question then…are you happy?
SG: Yeeeeaaaaah!! You can ask me that. I’m really happy. I have almost everything that I want. And I’ll tell you what the cornerstones of my happiness are; recognising what makes me happy, and I learned this nearly forty years ago…you know that phrase, “It’s better to travel hopefully that to arrive”? I love travelling hopefully. Arriving is no great shakes, every time you get a thing, you think “oh that’s great”, and then that moment’s passed.
I was very lucky, I won a best new show award at Leicester Comedy Festival this year, when I heard that I was like “no way!” and then I stopped thinking about it completely. I was like, oh that’s nice, but it doesn’t mean anything.
Trying to make a thing happen, is really good fun and engaging. So with the podcast [the Comedian’s Comedian], I have this thing now where it always keeps me on my toes, I haven’t been bored in twenty years. I’ve recognised what makes me happy and what makes me happy is pursing a thing. That’s great! I can pursue a thing until I die! Getting the thing is of less value, so I don’t any more suffer from that kind of “I need the thing”. The pursuit of the thing is what makes me happier.
JJ: Thank you so much. We’re finished now, but I have to ask you a subsidiary question. What’s your favourite service station?
SG: Ooh! Leigh Delamere!
JJ: Brilliant! Thank you very much.
And with that, Stuart elbows his way back into the seething pit of Soho Theatre bargoers, in readiness to do one of the final performances of this show. If you’re really quick, you can snap up tickets to the rest of the run here.