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I TALK TO Jack Gleadow

"It's all about how I want to be the next Bruce Forsyth."

Jack Gleadow was part of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve in 2018 which meant he was able to share the bill at the Pleasance Dome with three other up-and-coming comedians hand-picked by The Pleasance. It's also that year that he was named Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year.

No stranger to competitions, he was runner-up at Leicester Square Theatre's Comedian of the Year competition, runner-up at Chortle's Student Comedy Awards and was named Hull Comedian of the Year in 2016.

But 2019 is already shaping up to be a great year for Jack as his debut solo Edinburgh run follows recent nominations for Chortle's Best Newcomer and Leicester Comedy Festival's Best New Show and I caught up with him to find out more about what audiences can expect from his debut, his style and his ambitions for the future.

Last year you were part of the Pleasance's Comedy Reserve, what was that experience like?

Oh it was great! I applied for the Reserve two years in a row as it was something I saw when I first went to Edinburgh and thought it would be a brilliant thing to be a part of. After I applied I assumed it was something that was never going to happen.

To get the audition was great and to do it was amazing. I was doing the professional Fringe for the first time so I got to experience what that's like if I was to do my first hour. You get to know the ins and outs of it, performing in a professional venue, getting different audiences in every night and being part of such a great line-up. It was an honour really.

I treated it like a month of homework really, preparing what I was going to do the year after.

So were you always going to debut this year?

Yes, I think so. There were some discussions about me taking a year out and do another year but I spoke to a few people who told me that I could do that, or I could just get on with it.

I'm glad I made the decision to do it this year because it's made me knuckle down a bit and focus on getting it over and done with - in the sense that once I've done my debut, I can focus on the next stage, not being a newcomer and doing my other hours.

How long have you been doing comedy for?

I had my first gig in 2012 and did the odd gig a few times a month, but properly it's probably been two years since I decided to start taking this seriously.

How would you describe your style?

A lot of people call my style "old-school" and I don't think it is. I like it to have a bit of everything in it, but mainly it's stand-up with a bit of music, props and silly bits. I'm from the mindset that if you're going to perform, it should be a piece, a show - something that makes it a bit different from one person talking on stage.

What can people expect from your show?

It's all about how I want to be the next Bruce Forsyth. Different probably to what other people are talking about probably! It's the story of what it takes to be an all round entertainer - the type of stuff people were doing in the seventies and eighties.

I also talk about being a magician when I was younger which saw be banned from The Magic Circle! And it was because of that, that I decided to pursue comedy.

It's a stand-up comedy variety show really that also tells the story of comedy and variety. I want the show to be an introduction to my style and to let people know what I want to be doing which is host gameshows.

Do you feel like that style of entertainment has disappeared from television ?

It has and I don't think that's because people don't want it, I think it's because it's because other things have taken its place like reality TV, which will eventually come to an end. Drama is making a big drama especially with Netflix and Chernobyl, so I think everything comes in waves.

If you look at magic, that was huge on Britain's Got Talent this year so I think magic's going to come back and I do think that entertainment style is slowly edging its way back and it's one of those things that will always be there.

Why did you decide to call the show Mr Saturday Night?

I called it that because that's the description you give to an all round entertainer I suppose. For example, when Rob Beckett was made host of All Together Now on BBC One the headlines read "Mr Saturday Night" because that's the pinnacle of a male comedian's career.

Also, because Saturday Night by Whigfield was the song that was number one when I was born so it all ties in together!

How long have you been writing this show for?

I first previewed a version of this show two years ago, but the show itself has been a work-in-progress since about November. I've constantly been re-working it and it's changed loads since then!

How have you found having to fill an hour?

I've found that I've had too much material because I've written lots of new bits as well as going back to some of my set stuff because I really want to make this show a 'Best of' of all my material as well as telling this story.

It's good to have a show that can standalone, but since it's my debut I might not have the chance to do some of this material that I've had for years again. If you carry on doing bits of your set three shows in, people start to question if you have anything else.

How have the previews been going?

Really good. I did one in January to 200 people which was good, but gave me a false sense that my material was good. I really noticed and realised what parts of my show needed work when I played to 40/50 people which is how many I'll be playing to in Edinburgh.

And also, when I play to just nine people, I think if it works then you know the material's good. Each time I preview it, I change the show. I change the order of it and the segments I do so that I can build out the best bits that work. Rather than preview the show for seven months. I try and chop and change it as much as possible.

You've won and been nominated for so many awards prior to your debut. How do they make you feel?

They do help give you a confidence boost and they definitely helped me get onto the circuit and turn this into a job as it gives you an in when applying for gigs. So in that respect it helps, but at the same time people compare you to the other comedians who have won the same competitions - which is great, but doesn't really mean anything.

Just because they've won it and have gone on to do great things doesn't mean you're destined for that. You still have to work hard and put all that effort. You don't get handed anything. It's nice to get the award but there are plenty of comedians who have carved out excellent careers without winning awards.

You can't let them get to your head or make you believe that you deserve anything because of them, because you don't. It's just about working hard, taking the achievement, adding it to your CV and carrying on and continuing to develop your comedy.

What are you most looking forward to about Edinburgh?

Working, I suppose. I've decided not to drink this year which will probably end up being famous last words and you'll see me on day three in the bar but it's a job at the end of the day so I want to focus on the show and make sure it's the best it can be.

I want to spend that month learning and enjoying getting better at comedy for a month and making sure those who come in to see it, enjoy it.

Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?

Funny, silly, something for everyone.

Jack Gleadow: Mr Saturday Night runs from 31st July - 25th August (not 12th) at 5.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard (Below). Book tickets here.


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