One of Britain's most brilliant comic minds, and bodies, who was actually brought up in Texas but resides here, Ben Target is now doing the nation's capital a regular service. He's enlivening Mondays, once a month, with a splendid cross-section of similarly unique comics - if 'similarly unique' makes sense. Anyway, do tell, Mr Target.
"The Night of Nights is four of the most exciting comic talents (and John Kearns) joining forces," he explains. "Each month, we - Adam Riches, Stevie Martin, Daniel Cook, Ben Target (and John Kearns) - will each present a brand new ten minutes of gut-punching comedy, or die trying. We have a show-biz number to kick it all off. And we will draw lots to keep the running order from getting stale. And we have bought an expensive clock that will tell the audience when to heckle us off stage. We hope to make the money back on the clock (and John Kearns)."
For a flavour of Ben's own work, you would be well advised to check out his show Discover Ben Target on the streaming service NextUp, which packs a bewildering number of big ideas into an hour or so of stage time. Not that he's on stage for sizeable chunks of it. And his most recent show, Splosh!, is a lovely thing, which will hopefully re-emerge in the near future. Meanwhile Target co-runs another regular spirit-lifting event, in which a couple of recent FGWG guests appear, too.
"I am also making a comedy show for people living with dementia called The Care Home Tour," he says. "It is brilliant, and was cofounded by fellow comedian Liam 'Pope' Lonergan. We are making it with a fantastic troupe of some of our favourite comedy performers: Helen Duff, Kathryn Bond, Nathan Lang, Lucy Hopkins, and Adam Riches. And we are currently developing it through our residency at the wonderful METAL in Southend on Sea."
It's good to have him with us, regularly. Now - the past!
The Kings College London Student's Bar in 2009. The building has now been demolished. It was a 'music and performance' open-mic night. I was the only person doing 'performance'. Everyone else was doing 'music'. Because of this I was always going to be, at best, jarring.
I wore some skin tight, silver leather trousers I'd found in a skip - because I thought they'd give me some of that showbiz pizzazz. The waistline was two inches too small, which meant I couldn't breathe and started sweating profusely. As I took to the stage, they slid off me. Five people thought that that was hilarious, and I mistook their laughter for thinking I was funny.
I was only on the bill because I knew a budding comedian called Tom Rosenthal who was studying there, and I lied to the security so I could get into the comedy society, by claiming I was doing a masters. Two years later, Tom and I both won the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year competition, almost like we'd planned it from the start! He's a lot more famous than me at the moment, but I can grow a fuller beard.
Favourite show, ever?
It's still to come. But a special show was the one I did the day my former management told me that I'd received an Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination. Later that day, my former partner told me that we were separating. Rota Fortunae.
The day after Brexit was announced, I was booked to headline a gig in a place that had voted overwhelmingly in support of the Leave campaign. I walked on stage and said "Alright fuckers, we've got a country to fix, let's begin with your apologies". Three large men in the audience stood up and escorted me from the building. And the promoter refused to pay me.
What's the most splendidly surprising thing you've ever seen on stage?
When I was at school, I had an early morning job as a cleaner in a theatre. One day I saw two mice making love centre stage. It was tender and surprisingly loud.
Who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?
The voice in my head that yells abuse at me right before a show. It tells me that I'm an awful person, and that nothing I make will ever be good. I'm getting better at placating it, but occasionally it seeps out of my face in a tide of self-doubt and forms a sickly swamp of insecurity that threatens to trap me before I make it to the stage.
Its existence is why I prefer to spend the hour before and after a show alone. I wish it wasn't so, because I hope to be able to share the moments I have doing what I love with the people I care for. But when they witness me in this irrational headspace, I am overcome with a bowel emptying terror that they will be so appalled by my very existence, that I'll never see them again. Ridiculous, I know, and so I'm working to overcome it, and someday I hope I will.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
I did a two-person re-enactment of Starlight Express with Weirdos head honcho Adam Larter. Except, we'd never seen Starlight Express, so it was just guesswork in hot-pants on rollerblades. We weren't invited back. I still haven't seen Starlight Express.
What's the biggest mess you've made onstage, and was it artistically worth it, looking back?
My comedy baë Matthew Highton and I did a sketch as two cowboys who refuse to die, in an eight-minute death sequence. We used 20 litres of fake blood, which flooded out across the tarpaulin we'd put down to protect the venue, and onto the shoes of the front row. It took us about an hour to clean up, which we did in our underpants. No regrets.
The most memorable review, heckle or post-gig reaction?
Some kind soul left me a shopping receipt after a show that read "I'm sorry, I don't have any money for a ticket, but I think you're fucking brilliant". Thanks lovely person. I keep that receipt next to the first pound I ever earnt doing comedy, and look at them both if I ever feel like I should give it a rest.
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?
I'm in love with making work, and I'm going to keep finding a way to keep going.