Tape Face, aka Sam Wills, has come a long way since breaking through at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe. Actually he'd come a long way before that, having started out in his native New Zealand, and the jet-setting is certainly working: last year he made an impressive (if silent) impact in the States by reaching the latter stages of America's Got Talent. And now he's back for a lengthy stint in the UK, a seven-week run at London's Garrick Theatre. The bloody West End!
"The London show is what I consider my best work," Tape Face tells us. "It is the best of Tape Face and has all the bells and whistles that we could never add to a typical Fringe festival show. The classic favourite routines as well as some new little treats taking place on a beautiful set that places Tape Face in his natural environment, backstage."
Intriguing. Speaking of backstage, let's take him back to some older stages...
My first show with tape on my face was in 2005 in New Zealand at The Classic Comedy Club. It was a night called 'Big Wednesday' where comedians got five minutes to try out new ideas. They were and still are popular nights and it was a full crowd who saw the very first incarnation of the character. I am actually still friends with the first Tape Face volunteer I ever had!
Favourite show, ever?
I'm not sure that I've had it yet. It will probably be the last one, as that's what I'm working towards.
The worst gig I have ever done was completely my fault. As an act that requires me to stick tape to my face it means that I need to shave every single day. I was at a festival and I had forgotten my shaving cream so I improvised and just used soap. What I discovered onstage was that the slightest bit of sweat would react with the smallest soap residue and then it would cause the tape to slide off my face.
I was booked to do an hour and after five minutes I felt the tape sliding off my face. I ended up having to wrap a large piece of tape over my face and around my head through my hair which was a joy to remove later. The audience were very confused and it made for an incredibly awkward hour.
The weirdest gig?
I did a show where I dressed the volunteer as a stripper and then played the music for him to remove the costume. He took off the costume and then carried on and took off his own clothes. Glasgow obviously.
Who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?
I worked briefly for a guy called Vinyl Burns. He once booked me for a gig with another act called Joey Delaware who had a phobia of wolves. He said the gig was going to be great exposure for an international audience and it was when I turned up to the Cafe Nero in Terminal 4 I knew it was going to be awful.
Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?
I used to have a routine where a sock puppet went inside a shoe to the music of Barry White. It was a little much for some people but it always made me laugh.
What's your best insider travel tip, for gigging comics?
Pack light. We live in such a disposable society that whatever you need can always be found if you really need it wherever you are.
The most memorable review, heckle or post-gig reaction?
I once got sent a comment from YouTube which was 'Tape Face would only be funny if he set himself on fire.' I always loved that.
How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?