What to wear on stage – a new comedian writes

Flickr: Doug Hay

Some of you who follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, friends on Facebook or anything like that, might have noticed the messages saying I’m having a go at stand-up comedy on Monday evening (9th July, Dirty Dick’s on Bishopsgate opposite Liverpool Street Station, 5 minutes as one of the open mic slots, which start at 7pm). It’s a long story that started as part of a course in sharpening my general presentation skills.

So tempting to think “right, get an outfit together to fit the blog, something a little bit humorous, a bit edgy perhaps” – then I got a corporate gig during the day, there won’t be time to nip back and forth home to change, so ‘suit’ it is. The tie, if I’m wearing one for my meeting, will come off and that’s about it.

But then, that tends to be what most comedians wear anyway. Have you seen Michael McIntyre recently? Or not recently? He always looks completely sharp and is very well tailored. His shape has changed substantially over the years (he’s currently looking pretty damned healthy) and everything is always an immaculate fit. Jack Dee, too, has always opted for the ‘sharp’ look and mostly tops it with a tie. He is also a tricky shape as a small man; my guess, once again, is that he goes bespoke.

Younger comedians are a bit more variable. Russell Howard goes for jeans and t-shirt. Russell Kane would make a suit look conspicuous with that hair – and it’s not just the younger variety, Paul Merton’s shirts on “Have I Got News for You” could give EastEnders’ Alfie Moon a run for his money.

So I’ll be aiming for ‘inconspicuous’ for three reasons. First it pays to be age-appropriate unless you’re as talented as Paul Merton. Second, I’m only doing it for five minutes, you think I’m going to dress up? Third, if it did go any further – and that’s not the aim – I might as well start with a look that’s not going to make me shudder in future!


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