First Gig Worst Gig

Sam Lake

Sam Lake

It was the first of times, it was the worst of times - and now it's time for the pleasingly tache-rocking Sam Lake, who is traversing the UK as we speak. Aspiring DILF is his deep-dive into manhood, and his own boyhood, and toxic masculinity has definitely stayed topical since his run at the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe. Has he reassessed that material, in the meantime?

"I think it all still holds up a year on," says Sam. "Though weirdly, my show opens with a little pre-recorded parody skit of men's rights podcaster-y types. And when Russell Brand did his weird non-apology video before his Dispatches doc came out, a friend sent it to me and said "This is exactly like the opening of your show". Which is a fun thing to explain at the top of the show. What can I say, I'm one for the lads."

That tour is already in full swing - any hi-jinks so far?

"More like hen-jinks. First night of the tour, massive hen do in the front two rows. A gallon of prosecco in them, a half deflated male sex doll left at the stairs to the stage. They were interactive (that's comedian speak for really f*cking annoying) but they were very nice afterwards, I do wish them the best. And annoyingly, I do think a drunken hen do is my key demo."

But how about his first ever audience? Let's find out.

First gig?

I remember it quite clearly because it formed long-term friendships for me within comedy. I did the Comedy Lab course at Soho Theatre, along with Chloe Petts, Olga Koch and Huge Davies, my good friends who I'm now in a little comedy troupe called Joy Multiplication with.

My first gig was on the Soho Theatre Cabaret Stage, which I now realise is a very privileged start to a career which would later be filled with five-minute gong shows in Radlett called Comedy Spunkers or something.

Sam Lake

Favourite show, ever?

I don't know if it's against the rules, but my favourite gig is a heat of So You Think You're Funny?. Not the one I was in. My friends were. It's my favourite gig because it was also my first date with my now husband. Yes, I'm very romantic. Yes, it was a terrible idea for a first date but it went well obviously.

Worst gig?

I'll always say it was a night during my first fringe run with Huge. A midnight show, a drunken audience, a man fully doing lines of cocaine in the front row off the back of his hand. We had men wander onto stage close to vomiting and forgetting which one was Huge and which one was Sam.

We genuinely just cut the last 20 minutes of the show out and then when everyone left, Huge and I asked each other at the same time "I think we're bad at comedy, shall we kill ourselves?"

Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?

Well, in real life it's my mum. I might be saying that as I'm writing my next show, Esméralda, all about her. But I think about her little sayings and mannerisms all the time. She also introduced me to stand-up through the medium of VHS tapes of Victoria Wood, French & Saunders, Bill Bailey. A good sturdy foundation for a budding stand-up.

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

Okay, British Comedy Guide being a messy bottom, we love. I'm obviously not going to name a name here, I genuinely get along with almost everyone. There's only one, maybe two people, who I legitimately think poorly of. And they know exactly who they are. Which is good because no one else has heard of them. *flicks shades down from head, sips a piping hot tea, opens Twitter to check for inevitable firestorm of notifications*

Your most memorable hotel experience?

It's a toss up between my line "Keep your Glenn's Close and your Glenemies even closer" which failed to tickle anyone at a 99 Club new material night. Or the one time I ad-libbed a bit about several men ejaculating on a cake, which my friend told me to keep doing because they thought it was so funny. But it turns out it wasn't, because it's gross. The same friend to this day still says it's their favourite bit of mine.

Sam Lake

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

Recently, someone said to me after a show "You're so courageous for doing this" which is, of course, what we all wish to hear after performing. I asked her what she did for a living, and she said "prison warden" and I thought 'No, THAT'S a brave job'.

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

Right, ok, this question is an absolute bastard. Because whilst I'm thrilled with what I've achieved having never performed, acted or done anything on stage a day in my life before attempting stand-up, I think I spend most of my time silencing a particularly irritating voice in my head that is always complaining that I'm never doing/achieving enough.

And I silence it because the last thing I want is to become one of those sad little comedy boys who is always banging on about how they should be doing Apollo or TV gigs or selling out the O2, like WHY HASN'T IT HAPPENED YET. I have learned to just be happy with what I've managed to achieve for myself (which I'm genuinely very pleased and proud with), and also be happy for my incredibly talented friends.

This industry is an absolute shitter unless you surround yourself with people who you yourself would genuinely want to see succeed; helps to manage that pesky little bit of jealousy we ALL can feel from time to time. The trick is to not let the jealousy make you a monster.

Having said this, I love being a huge bitch in a comedians group chat. So no one's perfect...

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