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Ask A Comedian: Liam Withnail

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

13th Jun 2023 Humour

Ask A Comedian: Liam Withnail

A comic with over 10 million TikTok and Instagram views, Liam Withnail is set to premiere his new stand up show, Chronic Boom, at Edinburgh Fringe

What comedians influenced you growing up and what stand-up/film stands out as making you fall in love with comedy? 

I'd love to tell you it was something intellectual like Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove. The truth is that in 1997, Jim Carrey's Liar Liar hit the screens and to me, the funniest man alive was revealed. His rubber-faced baffoonery led me to ask my parents to take me to a drama club, and the rest is history!  

What do you remember about your first time doing stand up?  

Well, I first did stand up aged eight as part of a talent competition at Haven Holiday camps. What I mainly remember is telling some jokes my dad knew and lots of old ladies pinching my cheeks. Probably the best gig of my life, in retrospect.  

What is the weirdest heckle you've ever heard and how did you respond? 

In Glasgow I once had a drunk woman ambush the stage and throw a gin and tonic over me. I was in the middle of a fairly inoffensive routine about a takeaway, so I’m not sure why!

"I came on stage with an umbrella, for protection from other flying liquids"

The gig was stopped and when we returned I came on stage with an umbrella, for protection from other flying liquids.

What is the weirdest job you've ever found out someone in the audience does for a living?

I recently met an artist who paints canvases using toy cars instead of paint brushes. It turns out lots of high-end car manufacturers have employed him for custom artwork! Luckily, we were filming and managed to get a viral clip out of the discussion.

Liam Withnail comedian

What has been your most ridiculous live show experience? 

As part of the Edinburgh comedy collective Viva La Shambles, we had monthly shows with "stand up challenge" sections.

"You would have to perform stand up while undergoing some sort of ordeal"

You would have to perform stand up while undergoing some sort of ordeal, like eating the UK’s spiciest hot sauce, having elastic bands pinged at you or, my favourite, being electrocuted! 

What is one thing you've found out about a famous comedian you've met that surprised you? 

I was recently at a skiing comedy festival in Austria with Dylan Moran. The thing that surprised me? How he's exactly the same in real life as he was in Black Books.

"[Dylan Moran] is like an alien that has just landed on Earth, watching humans from afar"

Most comics are playing up to it at least a little bit, but he is like an alien that has just landed on Earth, watching humans from afar. 

What's the funniest album you've ever heard and why? 

A good question for a comic with a music-based podcast. We recently covered the Arctic Monkeys knock-off The Reytons, and it was hilarious for all the wrong reasons. Subtlety is not their strong suit. 

What is your funniest memory ever? 

One of the aforementioned Shambles shows—seeing my friend, the great comic Gareth Waugh, being electrocuted while attempting his stand up set. The yelps of pain will stay with me forever.  

What is your new stand up show about?

It's jokes and stories about learning I have a chronic illness. Funnier than it sounds!

Find Liam on Instagram at @liamwithnail. Liam Withnail’s new stand-up show, Chronic Boom, premieres at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. Enjoy An Album podcast is available on all usual podcast platforms.

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