Following another storming night of comedic success at the Guildhall this month, Times Reporter Liam caught up with Will Skillington, aka Willtordian Ballorian Edwardian, the enthralling host of Tavistock Comedy Club gigs in the Courtroom at the Guildhall to talk all things comedy.
How does it feel to be bringing comedy events to Tavistock’s new Guildhall for the first time ever, particularly now we’re (hopefully) through the pandemic?
It feels grand! I love the oddness of putting on an event in such a unique and historic building; especially the fact we are in the Courtroom. I imagine some very serious business happened there so hopefully we are balancing this out with some fun and laughter. The pandemic now kinda feels like a weird dream we all collectively had doesnt it!
What’s the plan for upcoming events in the near future? When can we see A Press of Suspects bringing more brilliant acts to the Guildhall? Tell us all the details!
Well I run a few nights in Plymouth and am aiming for a further show in Cornwall, see my website or follow my social media for more details! (see below). The idea is to have a recurring monthly Tavistock event. I have ideas for specific acts for Tavistock but will keep these under my hat for now. The first show was a great success which I aim to repeat - success for me means people who come have a positive experience and feel connected for a couple of hours.
How do you choose the acts you do for the gigs here in Tavistock? What factors into your decision making process?
One of the main drives for me is to offer up variety. I aim to encourage diversity as it is refreshing and informative to hear/see things from a new perspective, whether that be gender, race, sexuality. Comedy has the power to open hearts, minds and bring people together!
Do you have any advice for those who are interested in putting themselves out there as a comedian or wishing to try their hand at comedy in the West Devon and East Cornwall areas?
There’s only one way to do stand up and that is TO DO STAND UP! Just try it, the first few times are terrifying and awful but once you have a good experience it is very addictive! I run an open Mic night in Plymouth for all aspiring comics and there are other open mic/new material nights popping up around these regions - get in touch with me and I can help guide you!
You’re renowned for being a lively, energetic and audience-engaging host with a penchant for owls. Where did this penchant come from?
Well you’ll have to come to my shows for the long answer! In short ‘Owls’ was one of my daughter’s first words and I captured this on Mic. I then made a piece of music with that recording. (https://strangebillythesaint.bandcamp.com/track/owls). The rest, as they say, is history.
The name Willtordian Ballorian Edwardian is glorious. Where did it come from?
This name was invented way before I even started comedy - I wanted to make a statement about my contempt/addiction to FaceBook so plucked that name from somewhere in the back of my head and changed my profile. It was my attempt to “stick it to the man” (the man being Mark Zuckerberg) - when I started comedy I quickly became a manic alter ego, this alter ego needed a name and there it was!
What about comedy (and performance itself) makes it so special to you? Where does your inspiration come from?
My comedy/performance is quite improvised and absurdist - I struggle to write or hone material like other stand ups, I tend to have ideas for set pieces and try them out. I rarely do the same thing twice so there is a risk/fear to each performance. I seem to have a strange desire to put myself in a vulnerable position which may or may not work. When it works it feels great, when it doesn’t it is a humbling experience. Win Win!I absorb huge amounts of culture, when I like something I get mildly obsessed, usually in music, film and comedy. In my day to day life I am surrounded by hilarious people. My colleagues at my other job (nursing) are incredibly funny as is my 4 yr old. She is top fun.
Who are your biggest comedy influences and why?
My biggest influence is probably Michael Barrymore in early episodes of Strike it Lucky. His crowd work is phenomenal. I’m only kinda joking with that statement. I remember watching Whose Line is it Anyway as a child and loving the sillyness of it. Currently I listen to Adam Buxton and Marc Maron podcasts a lot, I feel like they are my close friends. The Shaun the Sheep movies are great works of comedy, like classic Chaplain/Keaton. The kids TV show Bluey is beautifully written. Lately I fell in love with the TV shows Dave, Joe Pera talks to You and The Eric Andre Show: each has a specific unique style and voice, they all feel fresh and lift my spirits. Stand up wise I enjoy are James Acaster, Nina Conti, Tim Key, Ronny Chang, Hannah Gadsby, Stewart Lee, Doug Stanhope, Bill Hicks.
You’re a host, a comic, a promoter, a musician, a nurse and a father of two. How do you balance it all so skilfully?
I’m not sure I do balance it so skillfully! It can be overwhelming at times and I have to make sure I am present for my family. My beautiful fiance Jane is very supportive and understanding and I can’t wait to make her my wife in July (so she can’t run away so easily). I certainly am blessed/cursed with a sometimes manic level of energy which enables me to squeeze a lot in! I have had issues with poor mental health in my past and need to be mindful of when I become too overloaded with things.
What would you like the future to hold for you?
To be honest I am the happiest, most content and settled I have ever been! I am in a relationship with someone I love deeply, have two beautiful children, a job which contributes to people’s phyiscal/mental health and wellbeing and get to show off regulary to roomful of strangers! I have moments of doubt, insecurity and worry like most people but I genuiely feel full of love and gratitude. The future is now!
Head to www.apressofsuspects.com for more details.
Image copyright: Freckle Photography
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