Comedy festival finalists tell us their best jokes
November 08, 2012
Razor sharp jokes have been flying back and forth in Reading over the last few weeks as budding comedians battled it out to be crowned Reading Comedy Festival's New Act of 2012.
Stand-up acts from across the south made their way to The Hexagon to showcase their wit in front of a panel of expert judges from Reading Arts.
After three heats the judges whittled it down to 12 hopefuls who competed in a grand final last Friday. We asked the finalists to tell us a joke.
26, Reading and a researcher
My name is Alex, I have grown up in and around Reading. In my time on Earth I have driven a 1989 Fiat Panda to Mongolia, ran four marathons in a year, and been blacklisted from the Kennedy Space Centre.
How I got in to comedy: I took up a new job as a ‘Freelance Astronaut’ in 2010, where I sent over 500 letters and emails to space agencies across the planet offering my budget services on the minimum wage.
Most of these agencies ignored me, some insulted me, others offered me cleaning work (ANASA, Azerbaijan’s creatively named space agency). I didn’t get to go to space, but I did get a lot of amusing responses and experiences as a result of this ridiculous endeavour, so I took to stand-up comedy to share these stories.
Favourite joke: A few checks before I go out: heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.
I’ll stay in, I’m a hideous two-headed, four-legged monster. (My own.)
21, Bristol, works in retail
I now live in Leicester having finished university and am struggling to accept my place in the real world.
How I got in to comedy: I got into comedy to prove that I can do it, and then continued doing it partly to impress a girl, partly because I had no other hobbies.
Favourite joke: I played golf on LSD, it was crazy.
28, Swansea, a researcher
Daryl Perry is clever yet naïve; lethargic but exuberant; dirty-minded but child-like; laconic despite sometimes being unable to put his thoughts into a coherent, short, amusing sentence. Most importantly, he dislikes contradictions. Well, he does and he doesn’t.
How I got in to comedy: I have a passion for hanging round sparsely populated dark rooms for hours on end while people look at me like I’m slightly weird.
Favourite joke: Just won a French mushroom competition. I’m the new champignon. BOOM BOOM. (I’m sorry.)
28, Streatham, a civil servant
How I got in to comedy: I gave into peer pressure and decided that I needed to try stand-up comedy at least once before I died. Although my first-ever gig required the assistance of around seven pints of cider. I had a panic attack in the toilet before-hand and my friends had to pretty much push me on to the stage where I proceeded to insult my mother for the five minutes. Despite the frequent moments of awkward silence from the crowd, I managed to draw out a couple of laughs and that along with the buzz of the experience was enough to get me hooked.
Favourite joke: I was cleaning out the attic the other day with the wife. Filthy, dirty and covered with cobwebs... but she’s good with the kids. (Tommy Cooper.)
30, Woking, web designer
How I got in to comedy: I’ve always wanted to be a comedian, and it seemed like a good way to hide being mental.
Favourite joke: What do you call a pessimistic Dodo? A don’t don’t!
Paul David Collins
41, Berkhamsted, a product manager
I have been performing for almost exactly a year. I’m married, with two children, all of whom like the fact that stand-up takes me out of the house for the evening...
How I got into comedy: Through writing. I took a comedy writing course which turned out to be about performing stand-up as much as writing and never looked back.
Favourite joke: I tried being an optimist last year, but I didn’t like it. Always knew it wouldn’t end well. (My own.)
How I got into comedy: I was persuaded to give it a go by friends and ended up loving it.
Favourite joke: The other day I got so drunk I had a near death experience – I saw the light and I just ran toward it. The next day I woke up in the fridge.
24, London, an administrative assistant in a medium-sized domestic removals firm
Aspiring comedian, 24, seeks forgiving and sympathetic audience willing to take a chance on an unknown quantity.
How I got into comedy: I’ve always loved comedy, but found excuses to put off trying it myself. For a long time I was very intimidated, and pretended that I was focussing on other things. But when, due to a series of very
bad decisions, I found myself working as an administrative assistant in a medium-sized domestic removals firm, I had the time and impetus to give stand-up a try, and I’m really glad I did. It’s been great (for me, if not for some of the audiences I’ve performed in front of).
Favourite joke: I like the joke at the start of Annie Hall about the two old ladies at the holiday camp restaurant. The first one says: “The food here is terrible” and the second one says: “I know, and such small portions.”
25, London, a freelance social media manager
I did my first gig at the end of March 2011, I’ve done over 170 gigs and would love to be at a stage where
I can do stand up for a living.
How I got into comedy: I’ve always wanted to give it a go, so I did a course last year and carried on performing.
Favourite joke: A man gave me a leaflet about origami, not sure what to make of it. (It’s one of mine.)
20, Bromley, a waiter
If I can get to a point where I am making a room full of people laugh for an hour with jokes I’m really proud of then I’d be very, very happy.
How I got into comedy: My first four gigs led me to the semi-finals of both So You Think You’re Funny, and the Amused Moose Laugh Off and it’s been downhill ever since.
Favourite joke: Peter Kay’s ‘Walking to the dance floor’ dance.
And the winner is....
IT worker Pete Beckley was crowned Reading’s comedy king on Friday. CAROLINE COOK found out his favourite joke
Pete Beckley might have been named Reading Comedy Festival’s New Act of 2012 last week but he won’t be giving up the day job just yet.
And that’s mostly because it gives him his funniest material.
Working in the world of computers provides plenty of fodder for the comedian’s stand-up gigs and helped him impress the judges at this year’s comedy festival.
“A few quirky things come out of working in IT,” he says. “My stuff is quite dead pan humour too, sort of similar to Jack Dee or maybe Milton Jones.”
And naturally, when asked his favourite joke, Pete offers something tech based.
“The server was down this morning but I managed to cheer it up by the afternoon,” he chuckles.
The 43-year-old from Staines first realised he wanted to get into the funny business after taking a comedy course in Edinburgh.
“I saw it advertised on a website while I was doing some training at work and I thought it would help me with presenting skills, so I signed up to it,” he says.
“On the second lesson the comedy tutor asked us all to get up and speak for five minutes. I was afraid the other people there might laugh at me but the tutor assured me that they wouldn’t,” he jokes.
Having been bitten by the comedy bug during the course Pete decided to enter the Reading Comedy Festival New Act Competition on a whim.
“I just thought it would be a good experience and I’d never played Reading before,” he says, adding that he has done a few gigs in London and around the south.
“I have always enjoyed comedy but I didn’t intend to carry it on after the course. I was just going to do the course but it seems to be going quite well now.”
Before being named number one newcomer in Reading Pete had already clocked up a few other
‘new comedian of the year’ titles, being crowed King of Comedy in the Costa Light Comedy Challenge and coming second in the Comedy Cafe New Act of
2011 last year.
So what’s next for the mutton-chopped funnyman?
“I would just like to do more gigs, paid ones preferably,” he says. “I also recently started a comedy night in Staines called Two Rivers Comedy so I’m trying to compere that.
“I think compering is a bit harder, you have to interact with the audience more.”
He says his dream gig would be to headline the Comedy Store in London, but for now he’s enjoying his most recent accolade.
“It feels great,” he says with a grin, before heading back to his office to compile some more material.
For more from Pete follow him on Twitter @petebeckley.
We want to hear your best jokes too. Leave us a comment or tweet us @getreading.