Published May 18, 2017

Interview with UK Comedian - Russell Howard

Ahead of his May 25th Shanghai show

By Dan Entwistle


While the UK is home to many great stand-up comedians, very few manage find success in international markets. Back in the late 60s Monty Python broke America with their Flying Circus. In the 70s former Python, John Cleese, found success with Fawlty Towers. In the 80s and 90s Rowan Atkinson amazed with Blackadder and Mr Bean, followed soon after by Ricky Gervais with The Office and Extras. Nowadays another British comedian is using his BBC-produced show to launch himself to international stardom. We sat down with Russell Howard, stand-up comedian and host of Russell Howard’s Good News, ahead of his Shanghai show to find out what his worst moment on stage was and what you can expect to see from him on May 25th.


SHEX: What’re you most looking forward to about playing Shanghai?


RH: I'm looking forward to exploring Shanghai and then having a chat to the audience about it.


When I told my Mum I was doing a gig in China she said "in English?”  to which I replied “probably.” I love the fact that my mum thought I had hidden my ability to speak Mandarin!


SHEX: How did you get into comedy?


RH: I was obsessed with comedy as a kid and had been writing jokes in a tatty notebook for years. Then one day when I was 18, I went into Bristol and asked to perform that night. They let me on, the gig went great and my world changed forever.


SHEX: What prompted the world tour?


RF: The madness of the world! Every day it seems like another absurd or shocking story seems to fly out of the TV into my face, and stand up is the best way of making sense of all this mania.



SHEX: How do you feel about performing here and why did you choose to play Shanghai?


RH: I feel very excited, I just hope my humour travels. I've performed in England, America, Canada, Scandinavia, Australia so why not give Shanghai a whirl?


SHEX: Stand-up is a fairly new concept in China. Do you feel you’ll have to adjust your material/format for the expat audience?


RH: I'll just do my thing and we'll see how we get on. It’s got me this far!


SHEX: What’s the biggest you’ve ever bombed?


RH: The strangest moment was when I was doing a Christmas show in Essex and a woman threw a sex toy at me. I had a penis shaped bruise on my face for a week, it was like the strangest battle scare ever. I haven't bombed for a long time. It’s pretty hard to die at the o2. If there is 15,000 people there to see you, it’s going to be ok.


SHEX: Are there any subjects that are off-limits when it comes to stand-up?


RH: Joking is often how we deal with tragedy isn't it? So nah, nothing’s off limit.


SHEX: Why does the UK produce so many good stand-ups?


RH: Cos it rains a lot and there is a lot to moan about.


SHEX: How would you describe your style?


RH: Hopefully comedy with a bit of soul. I did a bit in my last show about a kid that had cancer who wanted me to go to his funeral dressed as a giant dildo. It was really funny and rude, yet also uplifting. That’s the comedy I enjoy the most.


SHEX: Why do you think you’ve had such appeal in a wide variety of countries?


RH: No idea really. I just keep churning it out and people seem to enjoy it.


SHEX: What’s been your worst heckler ever?


RH: The worst was definitely the lady that slung her sex toy at me. A friend of mine was also once given a noose by somebody at a festival.


SHEX: What’s been your toughest crowd?


RH: Toughest crowd was Nashville but we got there in the end. My favourite place to play was probably Manchester in England - we had 18,000 people in and my dad was there too, so that was pretty amazing.


SHEX: What advice you wish someone had given you before you started comedy?


RH: Don't get nervous when you’re young, just enjoy it.


Tickets for Russell's first Shanghai show are available here.



Big thanks to Kung Fu Komedy for helping to arrange the interview.