Si Hawkins - Circuit Training: From stand-up stage to the studio

Si Hawkins checks in with comics who've journeyed to the darkest depths of development hell - TV, radio, film or new-fangled web ventures - and are still standing.

Simon Evans interview

No. 77: What's Driving Simon Evans?

A long-serving sage of artisanal gagsmithery, Simon Evans has just made his first stand-up DVD - not that he's a fan of the genre. Nor is he fond of one particular newspaper, which he's boycotting. And don't get him started on cars.

Read

Joseph Morpurgo interview

No. 76: Joseph Morpurgo's High Concepts

Published 10th November

Co-founder of the wildly successful improv troupe Austentatious, Joseph Morpurgo's solo work is more audacious, and his new show shares an ethos with some notable musical mavericks. Read

Mark Thomas interview

No. 75: The Further Revelations of Mark Thomas

Published 5th November

For the 75th Circuit Training, our first return visitor, and a suitably epic chat with Mark Thomas. He's on often eyebrow-raising form, about arms sales, corporate spying, conspiracy theories, ISIS, Labour, and, er, clitoral stroking. But is it still comedy? Read

James Acaster interview

No. 74: Station to Station with James Acaster

Published 24th October

He may be 'low energy', a bit ill and standing around at a train station, but James Acaster is in a feisty mood when Circuit Training calls. Reviewers and TV bookers beware. Read

Jason Byrne interview

No. 73: Bouncing Back, with Jason Byrne

Published 17th October

The hugely popular Irishman Jason Byrne endured a rare career catastrophe last year when his high-profile TV vehicle flopped - here he talks turkey, his TV comeback, the 'dangerous' new tour, and a tremendous Ross Noble anecdote. Read

Thom Tuck interview

No. 72: Thom Tuck, Talking Shop

Published 29th August

A mysteriously-curtailed chat with Thom Tuck, about Munnery, Bambi, expensive dross at the Fringe, piles of rubbish on BBC3, and the much-anticipated new Penny Dreadfuls material. Read

Romesh Ranganathan interview

No. 71: Ranganathan Addresses the Nation

Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Published 20th August

Angry and candid onstage, affable and candid off it, ex-teacher Romesh Ranganathan really lets rip in his new Edinburgh show. Here we talk curriculums, closing schools and some handy comedy-writing advice. Read

Stuart Goldsmith interview

No. 70: Unpacking Stuart Goldsmith

Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Published 19th August

He's probably better known for his hugely popular podcast than his performing (for the moment) - so what's Stuart Goldsmith's own masterplan? Why does he turn down 'shiny floor' roles? And which TV job was 'stressful, unpleasant and phenomenally frustrating?' Read

Abandoman interview

No. 69: Abandoman, Still Hatching the Plan

Published 24th July

Freestyle hip-hop duo Abandoman are just about the most roof-raising, impossible-to-follow stand-up act you've ever seen. But are they caught between stools? Or other, more sinister furniture? (Warning, may contain geeky music references) Read

Gary Delaney interview

No. 68: Gary Delaney is... The Gagfather

Published 27th April

Gary Delaney is renowned among comedy folk for his almost mutant punchline powers, and some big names have benefited. He talks pun technique, TV writing rooms and the comedy stylings of a Money Saving Expert. Read

Marcus Brigstocke interview

No. 67: Marcus Brigstocke's Achilles Heel

Published 17th April

A snapped heel, torn cruciate and broken relationship - the last year has been memorable for Marcus Brigstocke, to say the least. He tells CT about crowd-pleasing injuries, tabloid infamy, meeting Amy Childs, not meeting Maria Miller, his forthcoming political campaign and ongoing Daily Show dream. Read

Susan Calman interview

No. 66: Calman Composed

Published 4th February

Plotting her own frank and personal route to household-name status, Susan Calman talks pitching, pessimism, her nascent reality show plan, and lavatory-based encounters with fans. Read

Jarlath Regan interview

No. 65: Jarlath Regan's green card

Published December 2013

After a traumatic two year indoctrination, Jarlath Regan has finally taken to London life and just won an iTunes award for his popular new podcast, featuring the likes of Dylan Moran and, er, Tony Cascarino. But can he still sell the Christmas cards? Read

Jeremy Hardy interview

No. 64: Disturbing Jeremy Hardy

Published September 2013

A much-loved British institution - a Hardy annual, if you will - Jeremy Hardy talks touring, envy, Izzard, TV disasters, Blackadder fame, Father Ted disappointment and the unsavoury Savile business. Read

Bob Mills interview

No. 63: Bob Mills Goes Large

Published August 2013

Best known for his cult ITV show In Bed with Medinner, Bob Mills also worked with the likes of Ray Winstone, Timothy Spall and Michael Barrymore during a busy spell on both sides of the camera. Not all of it went as planned. Read

Patrick Monahan interview

No. 62: Patrick Monahan goes on and on

Published June 2013

Everyone's favourite Irish-Iranian Geordie on some splendidly naive early gigs, how spontaneity stalled his TV career, and comedy crowd-surfing. NB: this may be the first ever Circuit Training where nobody gets slagged off. Read

Andre Vincent interview

No. 61: The invincible Andre Vincent

Published May 2013

A circuit legend, Andre Vincent also helped launch much modern TV satire (but not the 'abysmal' 10 O'Clock Live, he'd hasten to add), before an abortive Robbie Williams experience put him right off. And what happened to his bits on Stewart Lee's recent show? Read

Eddie Pepitone interview

No. 60: The peptic-fuelled Eddie Pepitone

Published April 2013

US comedy's answer to The Hulk, mild-mannered Eddie Pepitone turns into a vein-popping rage monster on stage - and it's made him the hottest ticket in town. Trust me to upset him. Read

Pete Firman interview

No. 59: Pete the magic Firman

Published March 2013

Middlesbrough's own master of the mystic arts, Pete Firman follows a fine tradition of magical British comics. This chat also takes in Ronnie Corbett, David Blaine and the world's strongest [bleep]. Read

Robin Ince interview

No. 58: The Ever-Empirical Robin Ince

Published February 2013

Ploughing his own singular furrow as far as stand-up careers go, the accidentally influential Robin Ince returns with another science-based outing. But how will it do in the provinces? Read

Doc Brown interview

No. 57: Doc Brown is all over 2013

Published January 2013

From Ronson and Winehouse to Gervais and Ayoade, 1Xtra to Radio 4, Doc Brown's life lurched in an unlikely new direction a few years back. And it just keeps on lurching. Read

Glenn Wool interview

No. 56: Glenn Wool is Up in the Air

Published December 2012

Making a brief festive return to the UK, the now home-free Canadian Glenn Wool talks STD's, US TV and upcoming ventures with a couple of comedy heavyweights. Read

Sara Pascoe interview

No. 55: An accident-prone chat with Sara Pascoe

Published November 2012

She's been ranted at by Malcolm Tucker, struck dumb by David Cross and sexed-up by Will Arnett. But this week it's all about the stand-up, as Sara Pascoe: The Musical takes residence at the Soho Theatre... Read

Mark Thomas interview

No. 54: Bravo, Mark Thomas, Bravo

Published November 2012

In the midst of an unlikely new tour, Mark Thomas talks Hillsborough, corruption, construction, The Comedy Product, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, and opera. Read

Lee Hurst interview

No. 53: I Think it's Lee Hurst

Published October 2012

What ever happened to Lee Hurst? Thrust into our front rooms via a popular sporting panel game, he then retreated from TV and sent the rumour mill into TheyThinkIt'sAllOverdrive. Here the touring-again comic gives Circuit Training the full and frank. Read

Dan Wright interview

No. 52: Little Cook grows up

Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Published August 2012

Dan Wright is still best known for his seminal portrayal of the smaller one in Big Cook, Little Cook, but after this year's Fringe, will we all be pointing and saying 'look, there's the Michael Jackson loon'? Read

Amy Lamé interview

No. 51: Amy Lamé, definitely not lame

Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Published July 2012

The cabaret queen and long-time Danny Baker sidekick ponders celeb obsessions, Celeb Air, the legacy of Gaytime TV, plus a few nuggets about the big Baker-scribed new Muppet show. Read

Circuit Training - 50th Column

No. 50: The Flashback Episode

Published June 2012

For the 50th edition of the Circuit Training column, Si Hawkins looks back at some of the most interesting bits from his interviews. Featuring choice cuts from the likes of Dave Gorman, Rich Fulcher, Adam Buxton, Sean Hughes and Richard Herring. Read

Miles Jupp interview

No. 49: In the moshpit with Miles Jupp

Published May 2012

His CV already boasted Balamory, Rev and The Thick of It, and now includes Steve Coogan's new film and a book about cricket. Here Miles Jupp talks disastrous festival gigs, Frankie Boyle and full tosses. Read

Paul Sinha interview

No. 48: Dr Sinha will chase you now

Published April 2012

GP turned comic Paul Sinha is now the Dr Doom of general knowledge, as the newest know-it-all villain on ITV quiz show The Chase. It's having an intriguing impact on his live work, too. Read

Humphrey Ker interview

No. 47: Humphrey Ker is Smashing

Published March 2012

One minute Humphrey Ker is swearing at Churchill, the next he's sticking up for Luis Suarez. We unload a Luger-full of questions at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer and occasional football pundit. Read

Richard Herring interview

No. 46: The Fall and Rise of Richard Herring

Published March 2012

He bounced back from the full Tony Hayers treatment to become one of Britain's finest stand-ups. Here Richard Herring talks ups, downs, turnarounds, podcasts, his old partner and a more recent nemesis. Read

Steve Hughes interview

No. 45: The Unexpurgated Steve Hughes

Published February 2012

We're on the verge of World War 3, human rights are often evil and - most shockingly - the Daily Mail possibly isn't. These are the ravings of Steve Hughes - strap in for the sweariest Circuit Training interview yet! Read

Owen O'Neill interview

No. 44: The oddly unsung Owen O'Neill

Published January 2012

He's been on Conan and Letterman, written scripts for Danny Boyle and Christian Slater, acted alongside Liam Neeson and won awards as a budding director - inside the curious career of Owen O'Neill. Read

Tiffany Stevenson interview

No. 43: Christmas at Tiffany's

Published December 2011

She popped up in several star-laden sitcoms and is now reaping the rewards of a stint on reality TV. Time to talk turkey with Tiffany Stevenson... Read

Set List's Paul Provenza interviewed

No. 42: The Aristocratic Paul Provenza

Published November 2011

Widely blamed for fatally wounding US drama Northern Exposure, Paul Provenza went and showed 'em by making a surprise hit of dirty-mouthed doc The Aristocrats. Now he's bringing Set List to Soho, and scaring the bejeezus out of Britain's best comics. Read

Sean Hughes interview

No. 41: Sean's (New) Show

Published November 2011

What do teen heart-throbs do when they reach middle-age? Whatever they fecking well feel like doing. Here Hughes talks Sean's Show, Buzzcocks, drugs, drink, Hicks and his actively-unsexy new live hour, plus a gentle dig at a couple of comedy untouchables. Read

Dave Gorman interview

No. 40: Dave Gorman has Visual Aids

Published October 2011

Hugely popular across myriad comedic outlets, Dave Gorman also gets some stick for his part in the rise of lecture-style stand-up. Not that he ever did lecture-style stand-up, apparently... Read

Tom Stade interview

No. 39: The Stade We're In

Published September 2011

Once tipped for big-time US TV success, Tom Stade ended up co-writing the infamous Tramadol Nights after numerous neglected years on the UK circuit. So is he, like Frankie Boyle, still being horrid about Jordan's offspring? Read

Michael Smiley interview

No. 38: Michael Smiley's People

Published September 2011

Thrust into thespianism by Simon Pegg and Spaced, Michael 'Tyres' Smiley has been flexing those acting muscles with Luther and now Kill List. So why won't his award-winning wife work with him? Read

Imran Yusuf interview

No. 37: Imran Yusuf, Bringing the Thunder

Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Published August 2011

At the last Fringe he was doing free shows. Now he's selling loads of tickets, has a TV vehicle in the offing, and Michael McIntyre re-quoting his routines. It's been quite a year for Imran Yusuf... Read

Josie Long interview

No. 36: Josie Long, the Agitatress

Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Published July 2011

Fans of Josie Long's likable on-air persona and extensive indie-pop t-shirt collection may be blissfully unaware that she's also a soapbox-mounting Tory-bothering political firebrand. Rabbles should prepare to be roused at this year's Edinburgh Fringe... Read

Ian Stone interview

No. 35: Ian Stone, Staying at Home

Published July 2011

The irascible Ian Stone is suddenly as well known for supporting Arsenal as he is for several decades of solid stand-up: that's podcasts for you... Read

Phil Nichol interview

No. 34: Phil Nichol was a Pretty Naughty Boy

Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Published June 2011

After pushing the envelope at last year's Edinburgh Fringe with the high-concept Welcome To Crazytown, Phil Nichol is pulling it back in with this year's low-concept Simple Hour. Oddly enough it's his most ambitious project yet. Read

Paul Foot interview

No. 33: Paraffin, Puffins and Paul Foot

Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Published June 2011

Loved by fellow comics and an army of 'connoisseurs', Paul Foot is, nonetheless, unlikely to ever become the new Russell Howard. Unless Mock the Week suddenly introduce a 15-minute one-man improvised play to round things off. Again, unlikely. Read

Andrew Collins interview

No. 32: Blue-Sky Thinking with Andrew Collins

Published May 2011

After negotiating practically every job in the media Andrew Collins tried stand-up last year, then instantly retired. Now his first sitcom has reached Radio 4 after absolute aeons, and he's finally broken The Guardian too (well, their website). But doesn't he miss being locked in cupboards with Rod Stewart? Read

Tim Vine interview

No. 31: Tim Vine is Warm

Published April 2011

The Not Going Out star is hardly ever in right now as he negotiates a nationwide tour. But we travel back to the mid-1990s, when Tim's warmth was all the rage, quiz shows came calling and he tried to break America with a chimp. Read

David Schneider interview

No. 30: David Schneider

Published March 2011

David Schneider is cursed to hear shouts of 'Smell My Cheese!' wherever he goes, such as this year's Edinburgh Festival. But how close was he to a similarly-resonant part in Lord of the Rings, and with which massive mainstream celeb did he once form a (frankly surreal-sounding) double act? Read

Kevin Eldon interview

No. 29: Kevin Eldon

Published February 2011

Inhabiter of some of the most memorable comic creations in recent TV history, Kevin Eldon is now back doing similarly-inspired stand-up. So what's all this about Penelope Keith, evil cheese and a medieval dungeon? Read

Stephen Grant interview

No. 28: Stephen Grant

Published January 2011

Jokesmith for hire Stephen Grant has done everything from writing gags at Radio 1 to 'audience wrangling' on QI. So what's Simon Mayo's problem? And why does Tara Palmer-Tomkinson get warmer-uppers so excited? Read

John Shuttleworth interview

No. 27: John Shuttleworth

Published January 2011

It's a good 25 years since John Shuttleworth first graced our screens with his mighty organ, since when he's dabbled in radio, film, even the Eurovision Song Contest, with varying degrees of non-success. Is he bitter? Perhaps just slightly tart. Read

Helen Arney interview

No. 26: Helen Arney

Published December 2010

A festive chat with comic songsmith Helen Arney, whose cunning plan to get on radio is to release an album of Christmas songs and say a little prayer. Read

Adam Buxton interview

No. 25: Adam Buxton

Published November 2010

Adam and Joe's beguiling Mr Buxton on his little-known stand-up non-career, Thom Yorke's weeping fits and how the humungous success of The Persuasonists nearly turned him all Hollywood. Read

Greg Davies interview

No. 24: Greg Davies

Published November 2010

He bestrode our biggest sitcom and was the talk of this summer's Edinburgh Festival. A good year for Greg Davies, then. Read

Isy Suttie Interview

No. 23: Isy Suttie

Published October 2010

The nicest woman in showbusiness, Peep Show's Isy Suttie is off on tour. But will anyone in the audience actually have a clue what she does, when not Dobby? Read

Andi Osho interview

No. 22: Andi Osho

Published September 2010

The Stand Up For The Week regular admits that the right vehicle has yet to pull up, and is refreshingly honest about her TV success to date. Read

Tom Craine interview

No. 21: Tom Craine

Published August 2010

Just a few short years into his stand-up career Tom Craine is coming at us on several fronts. Some people are never satisfied. Read

Rich Fulcher interview

No. 20: Rich Fulcher

Published August 2010

Are you heading up to Edinburgh this August? Do you have a pulse? Then be warned: Eleanor is on the prowl. Read

Lee Nelson interview

No. 19: Lee Nelson

Published July 2010

So what did we make of Lee Nelson's Well Good Show? Really? Blimey. We were going to meet for an in-depth dissection of this much-discussed series, but couldn't be arsed, so Circuit Training texted Lee a few questions and about a month later he texted them back. Read

David Cross interview

No. 18: David Cross

Published June 2010

Think it's tricky getting stuff made on British TV? US comedy icon David Cross scoffs at the very suggestion, having spent years doing likewise in the States. Now he's trying both at once, and finding it all a bit bewildering. Read

Tiernan Douieb interview

No. 17: Tiernan Douieb

Published June 2010

Ask most stand-ups how they started and you'll usually hear lots of stuff about watching Richard Pryor as a kid then getting egged-on to do an open-spot while inebriated. Not Tiernan Douieb. He went to Clown College. Read

Rob Rouse interview

No. 16: Rob Rouse

Published June 2010

Remember Rob Rouse's stint on The Friday Night Project? No? Well, he has been all-but airbrushed from that particular bit of comedy history. Is he bitter? Let's find out... Read

Markus Birdman interview

No. 15: Markus Birdman

Published May 2010

After years of gadding about on the global stand-up circuit, son-of-a-preacher-man Markus Birdman is finally ready for some broadcast business - but will it be in the 'God Slot', again? Read

Bennett Aaron interview

No. 14: Crime Does Pay

Published February 2010

Bennett Aaron's life was turned upside down when cyberthieves stole his identity, but the fallout has given his career a mighty boost. So does the Welsh comic still wish it hadn't happened? Read

Mark Watson interview

No. 13: We Received Answers

Published January 2010

Si grills comic graftaholic Mark Watson on his unsuitability for panel shows, empty-seat anxiety and that contentious cider ad. Read

The Mac Factor

No. 12: The Mac Factor

Published January 2010

A classic case of rising without trace, Michael McIntyre is now just about the biggest stand-up in the UK. Si delves back into his dealings with the comic and searches for signs of that future success. Read

Andy Zaltzman interview

No. 11: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Published December 2009

Comedy cuckold and sometime house-husband Andy Zaltzman on his new Radio 4 show, his old neglected classic, and how he doesn't really fancy America anyway. Read

Andy Parsons interview

No. 10: Trouble Strikes Parson's Topical Paradise

Published December 2009

Mock the Week stalwart Andy Parsons talks to Circuit Training about that Frankie Boyle gag, the plagiariasm scandal and why the BBC Trust are not to be, er, trusted. Read

After Humph

No. 9: After Humph

Published December 2009

Si Hawkins ponders Jack Dee's promotion to the I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue hotseat, and harks back to some unheard Humphrey Lyttelton for a few words of wisdom. Read

Carl Donnelly interview

No. 8: Post-Fringe Benefits

Published October 2009

An interview with Carl Donnelly about how things have changed for him since his Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination. Plus, his experience on Kerrang Radio, his Grouchy Young Men interview, and supporting DJ Yoda on tour. Read

Rhod Gilbert interview

No. 7: The Word of Rhod

Published October 2009

Si Hawkins chats to Rhod Gilbert about his stand-up show, Rhod Gilbert and The Cat That Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst, plus his eclectic TV career, his sitcom pilot, his thoughts on comics' advertising, and more. Read

Steve Hall interview

No. 6: Klang - The Inquest

Published September 2009

With the first run of We Are Klang's sitcom just finished, Circuit Training gently grills Klang's Steve Hall about the road to BBC Three and where he thinks they went right/wrong along the way. Read

The Fringe 2009. Sunday

No. 5b: The Fringe 2009. Sunday

Published August 2009

In the second of the Circuit Training columns from The Edinburgh Fringe, Si reviews Mark Walker's Scorpio and Justin Moorhouse's Seven. Read

The Fringe 2009. Saturday

No. 5a: The Fringe 2009. Saturday

Published August 2009

Circuit Training comes from The Edinburgh Fringe, with reviews of Tom Craine's Comfort Blanket and Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache. Read

James Dowdeswell interview (part 2)

No. 4b: Extras, Edinburgh - and Everett?

Published August 2009

In this follow-up article, Si concludes his talk with James Dowdeswell. He finds out more about the stand-up's comedy heritage, his role in Extras, and plans for the future. Read

James Dowdeswell interview

No. 4a: Fuckula Gets Festive

Published July 2009

Si talks to stand-up James Dowdeswell. The comic is perhaps best known for his scene-stealing appearance as Count Fuckula in Ricky Gervais' Extras. Read

Carr Trouble

No. 3: Carr Trouble

Published July 2009

A look at the broadcasting career of Alan Carr, which is at an intriguing junction right now. Following a rapid rise up the career ladder, the comic is now presenting a chat show that is picking up some tabloid stick. Read

Larking with Eric

No. 2: Larking with Eric

Published June 2009

Si looks at the impact the Ken Loach film Looking For Eric is set to have on Mancunian comedians Justin Moorhouse and Smug Roberts. Read

Circuit Training column

No. 1: Flights of Fancy

Published May 2009

Si Hawkins introduces the idea behind Circuit Training. We'll be checking in with the people who've survived that journey from circuit to studio, in one direction or another, and with those poor souls currently mired in the depths of development hell. Read

Si Hawkins has been interviewing comedians since Russell Brand was a little-known MTV presenter. He also edits the front end of a popular music magazine and pontificates about football for anyone who'll put up with him. He's @SiHawkins on Twitter.

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