The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Category: Stand-up

‘The Comedian’

Can Huang, a documentary filmmaker in London, made this lovely short film about me. I think it ably captures the melancholy of the London open mic circuit! Thanks to G&B Comedy and Memoirs of the Geezer for locations.

News from gruntville

Hope everyone has had a good start to the year. It’s been a bit sticky, hasn’t it really, with cold weather and Bowie dying. I’ve been listening to a lot of his back catalogue, particularly ‘Lodger’, an album I always want to be better than it is, given how much I love it. He recorded it when he was close to my age.

Still, I’ve been busy as my ‘artistic season’ comes to an end and I gear up to go tour-guiding again. Firstly I’ve done several podcasts so far this year. I was featured by the charming Richard Wolfenden on his comedy one, and am linking below to Paula Varjack and I being interviewed by Dave Turner for his Lunar Poetry Podcast. In this podcast I read an extract from my novel Midlands. Yes, it’s done!, and I’m now actively submitting it. In fact it received its first rejection the other day; I should really open a sweepstake on how many it’ll end up with. In this respect Marlon James is an inspiration to us all. Anyway, for now my faith in my manuscript is undimmed. Ask me in a year though.

Comedy is ticking along as ever, and in January I reached the final of the Max Turner prize, so I can finally write ‘Competition Finalist’ on my comedy CV. I also did my first ever show in Spain at Gordy’s Comedy Night, Madrid. Despite having a cold, it was a blast, and they’re real nice folks! In London, I’m basically performing the same set night after night, which isn’t how I like to work, but hopefully I’ll be able to spread my wings soon over a longer set. After all, I’m off to Edinburgh this summer with Andy Quirk, Nick Purves and Andy Onions so I better have 20 ready by then! I’ve also started helping run the Monday night ‘Famous First Words’ open mic  along with Andy and Nick in Finsbury Park, and I’m hosting my next one January 29th: there are still slots available here. And you can see all my upcoming shows here.

I’ve also got to find time in all this to make a living. To that end, I’m pleased to say I’ve been accepted onto London Metropolitan’s Interpreting MA and will be studying to be a German, French and hopefully Russian interpreter part-time for the next two years. Potential better remuneration awaits!

Phew, having written all the above, it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling a bit knackered and, to be honest, disgruntled. What I’d actually like to do is crawl in bed with a beautiful woman and not surface until May, emerging only occasionally for champagne and toast, but duty, and specifically the duty of heading to Brighton to do Stand Up and Slam, calls.

In the meantime keep going everybody – all manner of beautiful things await us in our lives! Keep your pecker up, as the great Harold Pinter once told me.

Stand up Tragedy: ‘Tragic Fall’

I was delighted to recently appear as a guest on Dave Pickering’s Stand Up Tragedy podcast. The results are here, and they turned out pretty well I think. Have a listen below. Meanwhile thanks to Dave and all at Stand Up T; they do a lot for storytelling, comic or otherwise, and I hope the event returns soon.


I had a writing year. I leave 2014 with a finished full-length novel, a short screenplay, and a three-part radio play on my hard drive. Good Lord, I even managed to write a few things on this blog. Of course, I’d rather have a radio play awaiting production, a novel accepted by a publisher and a screenplay in the hands of David Gordon Green – but you can’t have everything. Or, frequently, much.

Nonetheless, what I do have is a raft of stand-up gigs booked for the new year. The full list is here with some highlights below.

Jan 13

TNT Comedy
The Vine

Feb 06

Work-in-progress show
Bar 1820, Berlin

Feb 14

The Anti-Slam Valentines Day Special
Hackney Picturehouse Attic

Feb 15

Angel Comedy
Camden Head

April 24

Rome’s Comedy Club
Rome, Italy

April 29

Strictly Stand-Up
Quatsch Comedy Club, Berlin

Further gigs will of course be added. I have a new fifteen minutes for London which I’ll be taking out and developing, and at the end of January/start of Feb I’ll be doing some of my German greatest-hits back in the Vaterland. I’m looking forward to getting on the comedy pony again.

See you on the road.

Various photos 1162

New interview

Thanks very much to Mike Trupiano and the lovely folks at Station to Station for interviewing me about stand-up here.