The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Tag: English Comedy in Berlin

Gigs in London and fun in Germany

Well Germany, that was fun, wasn’t it? Seven gigs, four headline spots, lots of money and nice big crowds. After two days on tour there came a moment, already having had more stage time than London had given me in fifteen months, with a roll of money in my pocket and two free meals in my belly, when I thought – what the hell am I doing in London? Imagining some German saying to me: ‘Mr. Harris! How much comedy would you like to do tonight? 45 minutes? No, please do an hour! We love you here! And would you like some more potatoes?’

But now I’m back in El Humo and once again working the open mikes and showcases; you can see my upcoming gigs list here. After just over a month round the houses I’m beginning to suspect that the majority of London open mikes could be renamed ’24 year olds talking about their penises’ or maybe ‘White Guy Meltdown.’ There’s certainly some unique angles out there. Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing a young man making an extended analogy between homosexuality and cricket, a comparison based on them both being two things ‘which he had nothing against.’ Your guess is as good as mine – but perhaps that’s what the kids want these days, apart from money and affordable places to live. Later a comedian called an audience member a ‘bitch’ for no reason.

There’s an interesting book to be written about this, about a comedian – it could be any artist in fact – who lives abroad for a long time, acquiring a measure of success in his adopted home, only to return and find that he has to start from scratch. He hauls round open mikes in his new city’s further outskirts, where the producers respond to his allusions to prior success with ‘Big in Germany? So’s David Hasselhoff kid. Now shut up and get sucking!’ Certainly I currently have the interesting sensation of being both a mild failure and a moderate success, a psychic experience which, if not exactly to be recommended, is at least stimulating. To this end it seems entirely appropriate that I was a guest along with the poet Amy Acre on Varjack and Simpson’s new ‘Fail Better’ podcast – you can have a listen here; I think it turned out rather well. What does Harriet Mancy-Barrat know about comedy anyway?

And then it’s the Anti-Slam, another Varjack and Simpson affair, this Valentine’s Day. Time to pretend I’m German again, in my role as Johannes the punctillious scorekeper. Somehow I always end up playing the foreigner. People thinking you’re an idiot is a great place to do comedy from.

German success.  Picture by Dr. Hemmet under the creative commons attribution license 3.0.

German success.Picture by Dr. Hemmet under the creative commons attribution license 3.0.


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

Interview about English comedy in Berlin

My posts on this blog have been non-existent, mainly due to an old-fashioned conventional need to keep the wolf from the door. But my good friend Alan Nothnage recently interviewed me about doing English comedy in Germany and its inherent absurdities, and I’m happy to link to it here.