Callum Oakley is a young comedian who had his first glance of fame during Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, progressing to the semi finals. He can undoubtedly have crowds in stitches, performing all over the country and showcasing his incredible talent.
In this interview, Callum talks about having a passion to make people laugh from a very young age and even doing stand up comedy in front of old women shopping for underwear! Who wouldn’t want to take a further read?
What encouraged you to first go on Britain’s Got Talent?
I don’t know really, it was a long process of doing it – it was more of my family wanting me to go forward for it. They thought it would be a great stage to go on to show everyone what I was capable of doing because I started comedy at a really young age.
What did that experience teach you?
It kind of taught me that I could push myself to do bigger things than normal things in life, like a normal job. Obviously going on stage in front of millions of people and doing stand up comedy are really different things to do, especially as a 16-year-old lad. So I guess it kind of taught me that and gave me a lot more confidence in what I could do with myself.
As you were quite young, were there a lot of pressures involved with being on a talent show?
I suppose, in a way. Maybe more with the comedy side with Britain’s Got Talent because you’ve got such a short period of time to get across jokes and stuff. As a singer you have a song to sing with, like a backing track. As a comedian I had jokes to get through and then I had to wait for laughs and applause and stuff. It was kind of hard to work that in with the time slot I had. But being young and doing it was hard as well because I don’t think anyone would’ve took a 16 year old lad trying to make people laugh serious.
Did you have a lot of experience before that, or was it quite new to you?
Both really because I started when I was about 14 and for two years I did a lot of charity stuff and a lot of low key gigs, so it was kind of both I’ve done stand up before Britain’s Got Talent but obviously not to that kind of scale.
Where would be your dream place to perform?
The dream would obviously be in Liverpool, the Echo Arena. That’s the biggest stage for me personally, that I’d love to get to.
What interested you in being a comedian?
The one thing that got me into it is that I’ve always wanted to make people happy. So I think that the one thing that makes people happy is laughter, so that’s what made me really want to do it.
Is that your favourite thing about performing, or did other things interest you?
Another main thing about it is that you never know what will happen when you do stand up comedy. I did one once which was really makeshift for a charity and it was in a shop. It was really awkward; there were all of these old women shopping around or bras and knickers and I was standing there trying to tell jokes and stuff. From a young age that’s what I’ve always loved about it because there’s always random stuff that goes on. So that would be the main thing because you never know what happens.
Is that quite nerve-racking to not know?
Yeah I suppose because you could have your set list of what you’re going go to talk about and that never goes to plan. Literally, anything can happen. You could be half way through a joke and someone really drunk could heckle you and try to join in and it’s not really how you want it to go, or something could happen and make the show amazing.
Has there been anything particular, such as heckling, that’s shocked you?
No, not really. The one thing I love about the heckling is that I love getting involved with the audience and getting them involved with what I do. So, it kind of makes everyone at ease because everyone is a bit more interested in what’s happening. Not everything is written, so you can deal with things. Sometimes you can make things up on the spot and the audience seem to connect with that more than if you broke down.
Where has been your favourite place to perform?
Probably my favourite gig I’ve done was at the Manchester Comedy Store, which is a big thing to get to as a comedian. I did that with John Bishop, who is a big idol of mine. I got to sit backstage with him and I was fangirling because he knew my name and I kind of freaked out. But probably doing that gig because I did it with him and he gave me a lot of advice and big confidence boost as well.
How does it feel to follow in the footsteps of someone who is influential in that way?
It’s a great thing to do. Obviously doing the same gig as him is a great honor. I went on before him as well, and obviously if I’d went on after him it would’ve been a lot harder because he’s amazing. But just being in the same building as him and also having a chat with him was a great confidence boost.
If you could perform with anyone, who would it be?
Lee Evans would probably be the main person. He’s the biggest comedian in modern comedy. I’d love to gig with Jack Whitehall as well because he’s more of the age group that I’m for now.
Do you think that you’ll always want to continue comedy as a career?
I’d always like to do comedy; comedy is the main thing I want to do. Stand up comedy I’d always love to do, comedy acting as well, anything comedy based. As I said I love making people happy and that’s the one thing I enjoy doing.
If this didn’t work out, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be working with my dad on a construction sight. I’m really dopey with that; he sacked me three times once in one day. So I don’t think that I’m supposed to be on a construction site.
Who inspires you, in comedy, or generally?
Id say a lot is family based, who inspires me. I’d say all my family, like my dad and my brother, my granddad and stuff. They’re all kind of characters in their own little way and they’ve all got banter and stuff. I’d say family for me is a big part of my comedy.
When and where are you next performing?
I’m next performing in various places, but my next big one is my own show. I’ve got my own show, the big main thing that I’m doing, next year, on the 2nd May. It’s a home town gig at the Floral Pavillion which is a big stage where I think it fits hundreds of people, so that’s the big step for me really.
What were your favourite subjects at school?
I’d say drama and music because I play the guitar and drums, which was it really – I was bad at everything else. I got taught a lot of other subjects but they were the main ones that I was good at.
Were you known as the class joker?
I guess so, I got labelled that. I never tried to be it, but that’s what I was, but that’s what I got told quite a lot.
Do you think that it’s better to start when you’re young?
It works either way really, I started really young. There are a lot of comedians that have started really young, and there’s a lot that have started really late. John Bishop started in his late 30s I think and he’s broken through now and he’s earning millions from doing it. So I suppose everyone’s got a fate, what’s going to happen to them, but whether it happens quickly or in a long process, it’s up to the person.
What advice would you give to a young person aspiring to become a comedian?
Just to go for it really. Never knock back gigs because as I’ve said, I performed in front of old people shopping for bras and knickers. You learn a lot as well, from any gig, so do everything and get as much experience as possible.
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