In the festive spirit

Talking to Birmingham comedian Lindsey Santoro.

You played the Reading Festival last week. Did you burn your tent?

“I didn’t stay over. I can’t cope with camping, I hate it. Go to bed freezing and you wake up boiling hot. They’ve got all these stages and they had an alternative tent that did comedy which was open with a roof on it. I was walking round the site and thinking ‘This is good, there’s a lot of people here’ then when you go backstage it’s like a different world. You can’t hear anything and there’s all these wooden huts like when you put an office in your garden, there was loads of them with sofas, tea, coffee, croissants. I was going round robbing the croissants.”

This week you’re doing Moseley Folk. That’s not really a tent-burner either.

“It might be after I’ve been on. I’m looking forward to it. I keep meaning to go and I never get round to it but if I’m playing there it gives me a good excuse. I need to have a little look what’s on.”

You’ve got Carl Chinn supporting you.

“I know. How am I supposed to follow that? I don’t know what to expect. I’m looking forward to it and everyone I know who goes seems to have a good time. Ivo Graham’s doing a bit then I go on.”

One of the things I’m now shamefully ignorant of is the Birmingham comedy scene. What’s it like these days?

“I’m just as ignorant and I’m in it. At the moment here’s an act called Josh Pugh. He’s just done Edinburgh and done really well and won awards. He’s great and he’s such a lovely bloke and he’s also got a new baby. The scene is lovely, everyone’s just lovely, especially me. I wouldn’t say I’m a good ambassador for it though.”

You’ve been doing the circuit for a few years. How did you get started?

“James Cook does these comedy courses. My mate signed up and talked me into it. I wasn’t taking it seriously and at the end you do a showcase. I thought that wasn’t too bad then I did nothing for twelve months, but I saw a poster for a five minute spot in Kings Heath so I rang up and did it. That was really good and I thought I might as well carry on. My next gig was terrible but I stuck at it.”

Is there a bit of snobbishness towards comics who do courses from the ones who started out the more traditional way?

“I’ve not really noticed but maybe I’m too ignorant to notice. Either way it’s the same thing whether you do a course or not, you still have to do the open mic nights. You get a nice platform to do your first gig.”

Years ago I spoke to James and he said when the showcase starts there’s always this massive burst of relief from people who’ve been roped in to see their mates and realised that it really is funny and they don’t have to pretend to laugh.

“It’s a bit nicer because everyone there is willing you to do well, although later on it’s worse when you do a gig and someone you know has told you they’ll be there. You think you really have to impress them.”

You do have one advantage over most comics starting out. Living in Northfield must give you such a rich vein of comedic material.

“It’s just so culturally rich. We’ve got a library, somewhere. I don’t know where it is. And we’ve got that downmarket version of Gregg’s that sell those really long baguettes that shouldn’t really exist. We’ve got to eat, there’s an economic crisis on the way.”

Which most comedians are trying to find material from. You do stuff about getting obscene photos and going home pissed.

“My concern now is if nobody’s got any money, nobody’s going to gigs. That’s going to be it for the rest of our lives. If we don’t do it now, we’re never going to do it. There might be another lockdown, nobody’s got any money, the world’s on fire, there might be an asteroid hit us.”

You’re doing the Kitchen Garden Cafe in November and Symphony Hall a month later. You must be sure your career’s going to take off at the back end of 2022.

“It’s not the proper Symphony Hall. It’s a Bring Your Own baby gig in the foyer. They’re really good, I did one before, When you’ve just had a kid you haven’t got much to do so you want to go to stuff but as a comedian you go on and you will get heckling. It’s not the parents, it’s the kids screaming. Just get on with it. Don’t engage with the kids because that’s the worst thing, you end up sitting on the floor playing with them.”

For those gigs do you do your usual set, which is basically filth throughout, or do you tone it down a bit?

“Yeah, yeah. They tell you to do your usual set because the kids are too young to know what’s going and the parents just want a bit of normality.”

You really should be ashamed of yourself.

“I don’t think I’m that bad, it’s not that graphic. I asked the lads running Moseley if they’ve seen my stuff because it’s not PG and they’re ‘Fine, just no swearing,’ and I was like, ‘On your head be it….’.

“I’ll just make up a few swear words, be a bit inventive. It’s like when I get to the punchline and I think, ‘I do a big swear here’. I’ve done a few festivals and you have to think up some new words. I’ve done some when they say ‘Don’t be too graphic, there’s kids’ and halfway through I think ‘Sod this’ and do it anyway. “

Do you get invited back.

“Yes, oddly.”

Lindsey Santoro plays the Moseley Folk & Arts Festival on Friday 2nd September. Tickets