Funny Looking Podcast is a celebration of all things funny, a look at the stand up, sketch and everything in-between from two discerning customers in the form of hosts Gav Cross and Pete Jones. Featuring interviews with some of the brightest and best names in the business, previous guests have included everyone from Pappy’s to Simon Munnery. Interviews are intercut with discussion, show recommendations and beautifully geeky chat.
Based in the North West, Funny Looking are the official podcast of the Liverpool Comedy Festival, and have produced special episodes focusing on some of the best acts, including interviews with James Acaster, Gein’s Family Giftshop and Robin Ince, plus everything you need to know about the Festival.
We spoke to Funny Looking’s Gav Cross to find out more…
So, tell me a bit more about Funny Looking Podcast?
The idea of Funny Looking is to share our enthusiasm for comedy. It was an excuse to get out of the house and see more live comedy. It’s a chance to talk to people because I’m a nerd and a comedy fan of old.
We don’t review because my background is teaching. If any body stands up in front of an audience with an idea, they’ve passed. That doesn’t mean I have to go and see them again if I don’t like it… but that doesn’t mean I could do that. Or they might be having a bad gig. I think it’s on me to go and see the right people as well. So if I go and see night I’m going to hate, it’s my fault for being there. If everyone else is laughing, then for that night, I’m wrong. What we want to do is curate people in the right direction.
It’s just about signposting and celebrating. It’s the fine wine of comedy! That sounds really up itself. But it’s about what we consider to be quality – I love a trier, I love someone who’s just out there having a go. I can watch a gig and think that’s going to be brilliant. I love preview gigs and I love going places where people are just trying ideas out – I love spectacular failure. In the sense that someone is just jumping of the high board for the sheer hell of it – so I’ll celebrate the fact that they got up there, even if the dive isn’t brilliant.
How did you first start the Podcast?
On my 40th birthday, my wife gave me a present of 10 days in Greece with Arthur Smith on a comedy writing course. He’s a hero of mine. I’m still friendly with Mr Arthur Smith… he’s painfully funny. I came out of that and it enthused me. I thought, I’m going to do this, I’m going to write or I’m going to perform. But it was when I started listening to podcasts…
Pete Jones, who I now work with, had a podcast about music. They were doing something similar, they would play a song and just enthuse about it. I thought, right I’m having that! Turns out Pete doesn’t know anything about podcasts, but he had a pal that did and so we’ve gone from there. It’s always been the two of us going and seeing stuff together and separately. We go on a couple of adventures – we’ve enjoyed going to the Machynlleth Comedy Festival together. I wrote a list of people we’d like to talk to and we’ve got a lot of people on that first list – we’ve talked to some lovely, lovely people. If you’re polite and not too persistent people say yes. You can do things remotely now via Skype and recordings.
There’s a tier of comedy I think that unless you’re hooked in and connected to particular papers and particular websites, you just don’t know it’s there. Everyone thinks there’s loads of comedy, and there is, but actually there’s some really bloody good stuff and it’s down the end of your road – so why not go and see it!
Have you ever performed comedy?
In the 90s a friend of mine had a sketch group and a night, and he said, we need someone to do ten minutes. I did some character comedy. Standard fare of an angry poet, which if I ever tried to repeat, people would say that’s like so and so. Really my aim was just to make myself laugh. That’s my problem as a comic, that if I’m laughing, that’s enough. I became part of this sketch troupe and we had a night in Chester for a few months, but then life takes over.
I compared a couple of cabarets during Capital of Culture. Here in Liverpool there’s this undercurrent of a theatrical cabaret scene. That was the last time I’d done anything big. There’s an itch there to scratch but it’s different when you’re in your twenties and fearless than when you’re in your forties and frightened. So I talk about it. I feathering around an idea of just being old and moaning but everyone’s cornered that. There’s always a possibility…
Are you a podcast listener? Which are your favourite comedy podcasts?
I’ve almost given up radio for podcasts. The fact you can plug in anywhere, at anytime and listen to what you want.
Favourites include Comedian’s Comedian. All the BBC output is good. I’m particularly enjoying Josh Widdicombe’s Podcast at the minute, that’s very silly. Alex Horne’s Podcast. I’m a big fan of some online podcasts, a big fan of Brian Gittins. The Double Special show is an American podcast, which is just people sitting round. I love a rambling nonsense. If I like to pretend I’m having therapy then I listen to Marc Maron. I like No Pressure to be Funny.
An interesting one that’s popped up recently is Sofie Hagen’s Comedians Telling Stuff. It’s a really lovely concept, Sofie Hagen is starting to break through now, a Danish comic, really hard working. She talks to eight comedians and she asks them to tell the same story. So there’s an episode called “First” and 8 comedians talk about their first gig, the next ones called “Worst” so the same comedians talk about their worst gig… it’s a really good concept. That’s a top tip.
And I try to resist, but I can’t stop listening to everything Richard Herring does.
I’m one of those guys. I don’t know what it is. It’s part of that obsessive compulsive behaviour of a fan isn’t it? I’m aware of that. If it was my thing, I’d be a tip top trainspotter. If it was my thing, I’d be a fantastic football fan and I’d go to every game. But I’m not, it’s comedy.
(Links to the inexplicable Me1 vs Me2 Snooker with Richard Herring can be found here, listen at your own peril)
Spreaker is an online community that broadcasts live radio. On top of the more formal podcasts, you release a weekly Spreaker show, Funny Looking Live. What’s the story behind that?
Possible the undoing of us. With the podcast we take it seriously as much as anything. Then there’s this whole Spreaker scene.
Take Brian Gittins – for everything I’ve said about the fact that I’m painfully politically correct and I can’t be abiding anything that is misogynistic, homophobic or just plain aggressive – I can’t justify my love for Brain Gittins because all those boxes are ticked. Brian Gittins is possibly the worst human being in the country at the minute. And yet for whom we have gone on road trips to see. He has a live broadcast on Spreaker, and Pete and I join in. Out of that we started our own Spreaker show, Funny Looking Live. It’s nothing to do with the podcast… it’s nonsense. The idea is, and it’s not necessarily gone in that direction, but we’d like to see if people want to be part of it – it’s a call in show, so I’d be interested in comics who just want to try a character, try a voice, an idea, just calling in. On a Sunday night, we pick a topic and we talk about all sorts of things. Funny Looking Podcast is the thing we’re proud of, and then Spreaker is just painful nonsense.
Find Funny Looking Live on Sunday nights on Spreaker here.
For more coverage of Liverpool Comedy Festival, check out our recommendations and interviews here.