I was always in trouble at school and left with no GCSEs cos I preferred having a laugh. My idols were people like Jim Carey and Robin Williams who were all unhinged and made a living out of it. So I just thought, “Well, I'm funny and unhinged – I guess I'll just do that” and headed to London.
The mad thing is I always told people I was a comedian before I was even actually a comedian. I would walk around with a piece of paper with thoughts and things I found funny written on them. If I didn't have paper I would obsessively scrawl things up my arm that made me laugh. I was doing that for years even though I had never actually done a gig!
I recently reflected on that and thought “God, how insane!” But then I watched a documentary on the Doors and they said that when the band first met Jim Morrison he was staying on people's couches taking lots of acid and saying he’d been “writing songs for a pop concert he hears inside his head.”
Some people can call it being delusional, other people call it “manifesting”. All you have to do in life is convince the world you are what you think you are inside your head. And I guess that's what happened.
But the main thing to take away from this is that I'm a bit like Jim Morrison.
GETTING SIGNED – 2011
The way I got my agent was quite funny. I was doing a sketch character with my mate Andy and because no one knew us we would use guerilla tactics to get an audience. We put up posters all over town with intriguing questions like “KURT RUSSELL FOR MAYOR”? Then we put our phone numbers on the bottom and changed our voicemails to a message that said “To find out what the hell this is all about come to xxxx address” then people would turn up and go “Ahhhh, so this is what it is!”
Anyway I was putting up one of these posters illegally in Soho with a balaclava on and a woman shouted “Oi YOU”! …so I said to my friend, “Quick Andy RUN”!
Then the woman said, “No, wait I’m from PBJ Management”! [a big comedy agent] So I said “QUICK ANDY, RUN BACK! RUN BACK!”! And that's how I got signed. She had seen the flyers everywhere and thought it was interesting. And then I was off!
FIRST EVER COMEDY MEETING
We went to meet Rupert Majendie at the BBC building and it was exciting because I'd seen the building on Comic Relief and Live and Kicking and, well, everything that was on the BBC throughout my whole life.
He had asked us to come in with any ideas we wanted to pitch. Anyway, we came in unprepared and pitched some absolute bollocks. I think it was an idea about Freddy Kruger going to New York City and hating it because it was ‘the city that never sleeps’. Jesus.
Anyway, I remember Rupert just staring at us and I didn't know what to say. So I nervously said, “So that's funny…” and then moved on. That was pivotal because I thought, “I'm never getting stuck in that situation again.”
EVIL KWEEVIL 2012
Shortly after getting signed, me and my writing partner/mate were bored and we put a maggot in a micro machine and we started taking over it pretending it was talking.
Then we filmed it and came up with the character of a Stunt maggot called Evil Kweevil.
That was quite a big moment I guess as it got me in front of Channel 4 and I learned how the commissioning process worked.
It taught me a valuable lesson to never get too excited about anything until it’s greenlit! A lesson I ignore to this day
ART OF FOLEY 2015
This was very exciting and very crushing. This was the first big proper sitcom script I had commissioned. (They are on All 4 if you want to watch it). It was me and my mate playing 2 foley artists.
After a couple of years of going back and forth and being paid to write scripts and treatments, it was all looking very good indeed. But then at the last minute they decided not to greenlight the series and go with something else. Which is just how the business works, but it was still crushing.
All the excitement and promise and possibility gone in an instant. Yuck. But it taught me a valuable lesson to never get too excited about anything until it’s greenlit! A lesson I ignore to this day.
STARTING STAND-UP/FINDING MY VOICE 2019
In 2017 I had a manic depressive episode that lasted for two years. I was stuck inside my flat. One day my comedian friend Tom Ward came over and said, “If you ever get out of this you have to start doing stand-up. You have the maddest life and the maddest stories.”
So I put a mic in the corner of my flat and invited people over and started talking about my issues and life. People started laughing and the show grew and grew until eventually I couldn't fit everyone in my flat.
Then it started selling out at the Camden Comedy Club and the producer Mick Perrin (of Simon Amstell and Eddie Izzard fame) turned up and offered to take me to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Since then, the show has taken me to LA and now on my very first tour. So yeah that was a huge pivotal moment – finding my voice in stand-up. Life changing, in fact.
Tickets for the remaining dates in Rich Hardisty's Silly Boy tour are on sale now.