Shropshire Star

Having a laugh? Star reporter wrestles nerves to deliver stand-up routine

It’s the person performing before me and I’m stood there at the entrance door, with the butterflies flapping like crazy and the nerves kicking in.

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James's performance in June followed eight weeks of training and raised more than £500 for charity

I’ve been able to perform in front of people for years as a professional wrestler, wrestling as the Iron Serb Ilya Dragovic, but that’s a whole different ball game to what I’m about to do, going out to perform a stand-up comedy routine.

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, always admired those who do it well and always loved to watch, but actually going up on stage to make people laugh was always a dream, never a reality.

That was until I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and saw an advert for an Ultra Events Stand-up Comedy night. This is the same company that puts on white-collar boxing, mixed martial arts and dance events, with the first two not appealing as, funnily enough, I’ve already had my nose broken and didn’t fancy it again and the third as I can’t dance.

James on stage. Credit: Ultra Comedy/YouTube.

I was, however, interested in the comedy show, where you do eight weeks of training, then do the show, so I signed up even before I knew what the charity was.

Once I found out it was Cancer Research, that sealed the deal as I have a friend with terminal breast cancer, plus I have lost at least three former work colleagues and a couple of friends to the disease, so it was worth any pain on my part to help raise for them.

After an initial meeting to find out what it was all about, including the news that you had to raise at least £50 and sell a minimum of 10 tickets to be able to perform, I started my training journey, every Tuesday for eight sessions, then the big show at Rosie’s on Broad Street in Birmingham on Sunday, June 25.

With each group of trainees for the show, you are provided with free training and a professional comedian to help you work out your routine, teach you the art of comedy and guide you throughout the course to be as ready as you can be for the show.

Our comedian, in this case, was James Cook, a veteran of the Birmingham comedy scene, Edinburgh Festival regular and teacher of dozens of the Ultra Events courses, so we were in good hands.

The first session saw us go through introductions, what different types of comedy there were, and a chance to speak about things we liked and things we hated in a positive way, and built from there, with week two meaning more games and more chances to learn about keys to comedy.