In The Middle with Ed Gamble

As Ed Gamble hits Leeds this evening as part of his ‘Mammoth’ tour, Martha Sanders takes time to chat with him about everything from jokes too rude for older punters to his comedic journey.

Although he claims that ‘British comics are so bad at promoting themselves’ Ed Gamble inadvertently promotes himself proficiently by being engaging, affable and most importantly funny. Gamble is currently touring the UK on his Mammoth tour and is set to appear at the Leeds City Variety. Speaking of his current tour he states that it ‘Seems like a real step up from last year’s tour [which] was fun, but it felt like the majority of the audience were coming along to see a comedy show or they were coming along to support the venue whereas this year it feels like people are coming to see me which is a lovely feeling.’

There is something endearing and unassuming in Gamble’s sheer delight at his increasing audience yet his rising popularity does come with some difficulties. As his numbers have grown Gamble has noted a larger percentage of older people at his gigs. When I ask about the demographic of his audience I’m told that he has ‘a real range; sometimes a lot of older people which isn’t ideal. I had that in Maidenhead the other night […] it’s quite a rude show in places so it took a little bit of coaxing.’

Although Gamble is now gracing the screens on shows such as Mock the Week and Russell Howard’s Good News and Drunk History his comedic career began while he was a philosophy student at Durham university. When I ask him about his time at university he just laughs saying ‘it was great’ because he ‘really just did so much comedy. I ended up being in a sketch group for the whole three years, so we ended up just doing a lot of sketch writing during the day and rehearsing and putting on shows’. Although for any aspiring comedians Gamble does note that he ‘wouldn’t aspire to that, I would maybe focus on the course a little bit more. But it worked out fine for me.’ Having spent so much of his time at university writing comedy he hasn’t ever written much based on his time there despite telling me that he ‘was probably the horrible housemate’ not because he was horrible but because he was ‘actually tidier than everyone so I’m the one who can’t put up with the mess.’ Instead his current tour reaches further back and probes his school days in London. ‘There’s a lot in the show about me not wanting to be the sort of person that I was brought up to be, I’m quite posh and privileged and I don’t really want to be associated with that or thought of in that way’.

When I move on to the subject of Leeds it is clear that Gamble has many fond memories of the place. Having missed the city on his last tour Gamble states that ‘Leeds is definitely one of the [tour dates] I’m looking forward to the most in terms of venue. My grandparents live nearby so I’ve spent a lot of time there and I love it as a city’. He also has fond memories of visiting friends at the university having nearly chosen to study here himself. ‘I’ve always done some great gigs in Leeds especially for the students, my friend used to run a gig that was in one of the bars in the union, that was always really good fun’.

As the conversation continues I ask about Gamble’s writing process which he finds quite difficult to answer as, due to the tour, he’s not currently in ‘writing-new-material mode’. However, when he’s in that mode he describes his method as ‘switch[ing] record on in your brain so anything that happens you’re sort of looking for it to try and twist it into some sort of funny angle. He goes on to say that ‘a lot of the time I’ll be honest I’m standing in the shower and I’ll think of the joke, that’s pretty much the place where I get the majority of my writing. On more than one occasion, I’ve scribbled a joke in the condensation in the shower window.’ When it comes to inspiration he states that his circle of friends who are comedians don’t inspire him so much as they motivate him. To put it in his words, these friendships are ‘semi-inspirational and semi-put-a-rocket-up-your-arse-to-get-more-work-done’. Seeing companions working hard and doing well ‘naturally […]gets your blood pumping, like you need to be doing a little bit more, less inspiration, more a mix of necessity and jealousy’.

As the conversation draws to a close we chat about some more trivial matters. Gamble is a big Bake Off fan, as well as Apprentice and Game of Thrones, ‘all the standard’ stuff. However, there is nothing standard about Gamble; his career is going from strength to strength and at the heart of it he is an amiable and down-to-earth guy who does his writing while in the shower. I ask him to sum up his show to which he replies ‘I would say it is very funny, a lot of fun, you’re not going to learn anything, and you’re not going to walk away a better person but it’s almost certainly worth the ticket price.’

Martha Sanders

(Image courtesy of Stampede)