My Comedy Career: David Ian

David Ian

As TV show Live At The Queer Comedy Club prepares to launch, we talk to stand-up comedian and club co-founder David Ian.

Tell us what you do in your job.

So I'm a stand-up comedian, co-founder of the UK's first LGBTQ+ comedy club, The Queer Comedy Club, a TV producer and I also do some work with a green finance consultancy. So it's quite a mix, to be honest.

I started QCC with two of my friends, Kate Dale and Jeremy Topp, and we work together running the club, booking comedians, promoting and all the logistics that go with running a club.

We started a production company, Milli Productions, which has created our first TV show, Live At The Queer Comedy Club, and we're in preproduction on another comedy series which is filming in January as well which involves a lot of script work and organising logistics.

As a comedian I do spend some time writing jokes, in theory, and I gig about 4 times a week.

Probably the biggest misconception is that comedy is all I do, I actually still work as Chief Commercial Officer for a green finance company a couple of days a week. I'd love to say it's to keep me rounded... but it's so I can afford to live in London! And, to be fair, I love the mix.

Live At The Queer Comedy Club. David Ian

How did you first get involved in the comedy industry?

I went to drama school which I loved but my over expressive face used to get me into all sorts of trouble and I had very little success. The roles I did book as an actor were all comedic roles and I seemed to have pretty good comic timing so I decided to do a stand-up course and see where it went.

What key skills do you need to be able to do your job well?

In my combination of work I think that planning and time management are pretty important. All of my jobs require relationship building to be honest, I think getting people to want to listen to me is the most crucial skill I need. Ideally being funny and having a sense of what is funny is useful as both a comedian and a producer.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Without a doubt I think Live At The Queer Comedy Club making it to TV is my biggest achievement.

I'm so proud of it. Not only have we made a TV show but we've also created a platform for 15 comedians to showcase what they can do. Nearly 400 comedians have performed at The Queer Comedy Club - the chance to book those people for higher profile and different opportunities is incredible. Especially given the show is being released globally - such an exciting opportunity we've been able to share with some really talented people. There would just be too much to list what I've learnt through that process but one bit that sticks in my mind is how the legal side of TV production works - getting jokes approved by a lawyer is interesting!

And what has been the biggest challenge/disappointment?

I think that starting the club has sort of put my own comedy career a little on the backfoot, I suspect people sometimes think I am just a producer and forget that I perform - creating my Edinburgh show, filming the TV show and running the club all at the same time this year was overwhelming to be honest and was probably the biggest challenge I've had so far. It was too much at once, but thankfully the three of us make an incredible team and were there to support each other through four months of stress!

Live At The Queer Comedy Club. Image shows left to right: Christopher Hall, David Ian, Su Mi
Live At The Queer Comedy Club. Image shows left to right: Christopher Hall, David Ian, Su Mi

Talk us through a typical day.

The days can be quite different depending on what is going on but, as an example, last Wednesday I spent an hour editing a video of the crowd work I had performed at the previous night's show for social media (something that takes me ages as I'm not good at it and hate doing).

Then I spent about an hour writing jokes based on some ideas I'd had over the last couple of days. Once I've written I try and get out the house to let the ideas settle, so I had a walk and grabbed a sandwich.

After lunch I had a catch-up meeting with Jeremy and Kate where we went through the bookings for acts over the next few weeks and discussed the club's finances.

I then had to spend some time booking pro headliners for about four of our Saturday night shows and then created the artwork to promote them.

I did a little bit of general club admin and then met with the Milli Productions team to discuss logistics for the next TV series we're filming in January.

At 5.30pm I met with OUTtv who are based in Canada (so all our meetings are in the evening) before heading out at six to get to that night's gig.

I sat on the tube, running through the notes of what I planned to say and also jotted down some new ideas for the book I'm writing. The show finished about 10pm and I was home about 11pm - but I can never go straight to sleep, so usually find myself watching some Golden Girls episodes to help me wind down - which I convince myself is homework because Betty White's comic timing is the best in the business.

Tell us a trick/secret/resource that you use to make your job quicker/easier.

Do everything in a team. Our team is greater than the sum of its parts.

David Ian

How are you paid?

It gets quite complicated. I get fixed fees from the finance consultancy and another board I sit on to provide advice. Comedy pays gig by gig, while I get a dividend payment from the TV production work. The club took a lot of money to set up and so, right now, it is just paying its set up costs back and having money continually reinvested to help it grow. I also get paid by the hour to provide public speaking training.

If you could change one thing about the comedy industry, what would it be?

Only one thing?! I'd make Edinburgh more accessible.

What tips would you give for anyone looking to work in your area of the industry?

Do you own thing and don't let the status quo dictate what you create or how you promote it.

Whether that is your style of comedy or where and how you sell your product. We're all on our own journey and I think success lies in embracing your version of that path.

Stream Live At The Queer Comedy Club from Friday 1st December via

Published: Monday 27th November 2023
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