Year of Wellbeing: Laughter is the best medicine

Comedian Josh PughJosh Pugh is warming up for his gig at the Coventry Comedy Festival by doing some decorating.

He is scraping wall paper while his wife is out doing the shopping. It starts a conversation about marriage and division of labour.

“You look forward to being married to someone and then what it’s really like is doing jobs!” he observes, cheerfully.

“I’m hoping the whole Festival will be really good. Hopefully it will get up and running, and will be going for years. They have been doing good stuff in Coventry. I know it well because I have lived in Atherstone all my life, and I used to work for the city council, in the housing department, for a few years.

“There was the Olympics. They were excited about that, and getting the football there. When I was working there they were doing all the Broadgate changes. They have been trying hard.”

So how did he get into being a comedian?

“I just always wanted to do it, but I didn’t know it. I remember watching stuff on the telly like Vic and Bob with my dad and I remember just thinking it was so silly. Seeing grown men doing things like that. That’s the kind of stuff I like. I like being daft.”

Then we’re off into the land of the comedian finding content to talk about in front of a live audience. His latest show is entitled: ‘Maybe the real comedy awards are the friends we make along the way’, which sounds like he’s poking fun at award winning comedy performers. Which maybe he is, as 2016 winner of English Comedian of the Year himself.

Coventry comedy festivalHe’s got some material about St John Ambulance to look out for, he says, and as he only got married a year ago, being married…and doing jobs, obviously. And about going to London, doing radio work.

He said: “It was good fun writing it. It’s only the second time I will have done the show. It is my third show in three years, so I don’t think that’s too bad. Quite prolific.

“I heard a thing the other day about the Bronte sisters and some things they had written as kids, I think I am a bit like that. I am still at the point where I am learning how to do it.”

That means being ready for your audience, with material guaranteed to make them laugh.

“I have stuff that works everywhere. But every gig is different and you have got to approach it differently.”

It’s about five years since Josh got started doing stand up himself, building up to it gradually before one night he just took the plunge.

“First time I did stand up was a Gong Show in Burton, where they get you off if they don’t like you. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it. It went really well. And I won that show. I came back and I woke my mum up to tell her I was going to be a comedian. I was dead excited. She was, like, ‘that’s nice, I’m going to go back to sleep now’ and you can tell me in the morning. But I was just so excited that I had got something I could do with my life.”

A theme for the first ever Coventry Comedy Festival is wellbeing, fitting as 2019 is Coventry and Warwickshire Year of Wellbeing. So is laughter the best medicine? “I definitely think comedy can help with your wellbeing. You can just get completely into it and forget your worries a bit. My dad was a scaffolder and he didn’t mind that, but I know we used to love Vic and Bob because you can just get completely lost in it. It is feel good.”

Coventry Comedy Festival runs from 3-12 May at venues around, well, Coventry. Josh Pugh appears at The Phoenix, 122 Gosford St, CV1 5DL, on Friday 3 May, at 7.30pm.


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