First Gig Worst Gig

Nathan Caton

Nathan Caton

It was the first of times, it was the worst of times. And thankfully, fingers crossed, it's finally time to get outside.

After an interminable winter we're ready for outdoor-show season and there's a classy affair at Northampton's Delapre Abbey next Friday, as a couple of local promoters combine to take over the 900 year-old neo-classical mansion - or its grounds, anyway. Like a comedy Game Of Thrones, but set in the Northamptonshire/Bedfordshire comedy scene, and nice? Exactly.

At the abbey that evening are Zoe Lyons, Gary Delaney, compere Paul Revill and our guest today, Nathan Caton. Do grand gigs like this have a special place on his calendar?

"I'm always happy and grateful for stage time," he admits. "But I know the guys at Comedy Castle and Comedy Crate and they run lovely gigs, so should be a good one."

And he knows his onions; as we'll explore below, this summer the Londoner celebrates 20 years in the business. So what else is he up to, away from neo-classical mansions?

"Next few months I'm preparing for my tour which kicks off at the start of 2025", he says. "So at the moment I'm in the clubs working on new material. Some of it has been great. Other parts... next question."

Right - here are a bunch of them.

First gig?

It was the summer of 2004 in a shabby bar in Old Street. The bar is no longer there, I think it's a Sainsbury's Local now so serving a much better purpose. I remember the room was split in two parts. One part was the gig. Then behind the stage was a curtain and there were guys playing pool and during the gig you could hear the noise of them playing, not disrupting at all!

My set was awful. I had no material. I was just a confident 19 year-old trying to be charming and cocky on stage. What a bellend!

Favourite show, ever?

Probably doing Live At The Apollo. Do I really need to explain why? It's Live At The Apollo.

Live At The Apollo. Nathan Caton

Worse gig?

Where do I start? A lacrosse festival where I went on after a hardcore rock band where people were in a mosh pit and then I tried to get them to calm down and sit... didn't work. After, while I was outside, I heard someone jump on the mic and say "I'll do some jokes as that comedian was shit".

I've done a football fans show launch where they wanted me to do comedy even though I was adamant that it wasn't necessary. They're football fans. Just let them sing their team's songs to each other.

Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?

Hard to pinpoint one person. Probably between my grandma, my mum, my brother or my wife as I do most of my jokes about them.

And who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?

Any punter who comes up to me and says "It's my mate's stag/hen/birthday. Could you rinse them for me please?" Nope! There's 100+ people who've paid to hear comedians' jokes. This isn't about you.

Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?

Have you been to my recent new material gigs? I'm prepping for a tour, ok? It's not all going to be gold!

Nathan Caton

Any memorable outdoor gigs in the past - ever gone up against a rock band?

[I'm] always competing against a band when doing festival gigs like Glastonbury. My first gig after lockdown I was outdoor performing to people in their cars, and instead of laughing people would toot their horn. I guess if they didn't like me they would've reversed out and left.

Which reviews, heckles or post-gig reactions stick in the mind?

I don't really pay attention to reviews as they don't have the balls to do my job, or are failed comedians themselves - you know who you are!

I've had someone throw up at one of my tour shows. Right at the start of the night too. We had to stop and then clean up. Didn't know me walking on stage could get that sort of reaction.

Post-gig reaction that stands out was my brother, first time I did Apollo. He's a very laidback guy but after my set even he was like "That was funny!"

How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?

I thought it was ok, but this question is now making me question things.

Nathan Caton appears at Delapre Abbey on Friday 17 May. Tickets

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