2019 could be a big year for stand-up comic Darren Harriott as he embarks on his first-ever tour, Visceral, including a date at Brighton Komedia on March 11.
After being nominated for Best Newcomer at 2017’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Darren will be telling us about gangs, grief and guts, tackling his childhood, his time in a gang during his school days and how life has changed for him with the expectations he now puts on himself.
“There is grief in there – and also gangs. Me and my mates wanted to start our own gang at school. This was early 2000 to early 2001 and So Solid Crew came out. We were heavily influenced by them, so we wanted our own gang at school. There was no internet back then. Or at least, it was just housebound and whenever you mum allowed it.
“I grew up with my mum. My dad passed away when I was small. All my family was on my mum’s side, and I grew up with them. I finished school and then I went to college. I thought it was going to be a free for all, but it was just like school and I never really enjoyed that. But I remember there was a flyer for a talent show that was happening. Around that time I was watching a lot of stand-up. Around about that time Chappelle’s Show was happening, and it was one of the biggest-selling DVDs. I was influenced by all that, and so I went for the talent show. I just applied.
“I remember thinking that you had to be 18 to do stand-up comedy, I think because it was in a pub. I was 17 and the show was in December and I turned 18 in the September, so I did it. But I knew nothing. In my head, I thought that every time you did stand-up, it was all new material. I did the audition and it went well and then when it came to the performance, I did completely new stuff. I remember being very sweary, and I got my first heckle. Someone shouted out ‘There are kids here!’
“I must have looked like a little kid. I was only 18 and I was trying to find my way, trying to work it out, but as I went on, I could feel myself enjoying it. My friend says that I had to be pushed on the stage. I was almost bottling it, and I had to be pushed. But I enjoyed it. Someone says that you get trapped in comedy, and ever since that day I have been trapped in comedy.
“The current show is me talking about my youth and how me and my friends started that stupid gang. In the first show, I talked about my family, and in this second show, I am talking a lot about how it influenced me and how I became how I am today. It is like a continuation. I am looking forward to it. It is my first tour. I was nominated at Edinburgh, and things got really busy, and I had a lot more TV stuff coming up. I decided to push this tour and then we will make it bigger in the autumn.”
Originally from Birmingham, and now living in London, Darren is a regular at clubs such as the Glee, Top Secret, Backyard Comedy Club, The Boat Show, 99 Club and Up the Creek. His TV appearances include Live at the Apollo (BBC Two), Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central (Comedy Central), Comedy Central at the Comedy Store, Achievement Unlocked (Comedy Central Online), and The Great Xmas Rant (ITV2) as well as featuring on BBC 4 Extra Stands Up (BBC Radio 4 Extra), Best of the Fest, The Now Show (both BBC Radio 4) and Fighting Talk (Radio 5 Live).