Ed Gamble has done pretty well since his Durham days. Although his CV includes Mock The Week, Almost Royal and a UK-wide stand-up tour, it seems that college stereotypes still don’t die easily in the hearts of Durham alumni.
When asked what life was like as a Hatfield student, he is quick to make his thoughts clear. “I don’t know if Hatfield has the same reputation now,” he asks, “but I want to stress I did not spend a lot of time within Hatfield engaging in Hatfield life. I spent a lot of time mixing with people from other colleges doing other things.”
It was instead in the University’s vibrant comedy scene that Ed felt most at home, and joining Durham’s sketch troupe The Durham Revue helped kickstart his career in stand-up “100%”. “I went to see The Durham Revue in freshers’ week,” he recalls. “I remember enjoying it but also thinking I could probably do better than that, so I went along to auditions.”
[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]Just know that university is a good time to start doing stuff[/blockquote]
Ed considers himself lucky to have started stand-up while at Durham, because he admits that “when you start, you’re terrible” but at university “no one from the outside world really sees you so you can make your mistakes and learn to be okay at comedy. Just know that university is a good time to start doing stuff” Ed adds. “Realise what opportunity you have to get good before you go into the wider world and do as much as you can”.
University was not Ed’s first taste of writing jokes, however. “I was always into comedy” he explains, “I went to see a lot of live comedy before I went to uni”. While he was at Durham, Ed met fellow comedians Nish Kumar and Tom Neenan, who he still considers some of his best friends today. “We spent all our time together,” he says, “we really threw ourselves into comedy, and we still all came out with reasonable degrees.”
This dedication to comedy clearly paid off for Ed, and despite how successful he is now, he explains he doesn’t have a system for writing jokes, but instead lets ideas come to him naturally, and then goes on stage to ‘see if there’s anything in it’. “They always come to me in new and surprising ways, which is occasionally petrifying but always works out in the end.”
[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]More awareness of how what you’re saying can make other people feel is very important[/blockquote]
Ed claims that he draws inspiration for his comedy from his personal life, and when asked what he thinks of the recent movement of political comedy, admits it is already well covered “by bloody brilliant people with amazing political insights.” “I tend to find anything within the political sphere either too baffling or too depressing” he explains.
While his material is more light-hearted, Ed often talks on stage about Type 1 diabetes, and says raising awareness about the condition is a lucky by-product of writing jokes about it. “Its not a topic that’s completely covered” he explains “so you’re telling people about a thing they might not necessarily know about. You have to make an effort to stand out too” he adds. “Comedy is unfortunately saturated with white middle-class men, and my brand is being blighted by Type 1 diabetes.”
[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]I want to stress that I did not spend a lot of time within Hatfield, and engaging in Hatfield life[/blockquote]
Ed believes that increased social awareness within comedy is benefiting the scene, and although he admits there are people who “take it too far”, he says that there are people who “take it too far with everything. “More awareness of how what you’re saying can make other people feel is very important” he explains. “You need to take responsibility for what you say.”
When Ed is asked about his dream future career in comedy, it seems he isn’t far off living it at the moment. “I’m already doing a lot of the things I want to do”, he explains. “I always wanted to be able to tour off my own back, and I am now doing that, which is very exciting.”
[blockquote author=”” pull=”normal”]I think you take it as it comes- you never know what’s going to come along[/blockquote]
One of Ed’s most recent projects is Off Menu, a food podcast with James Acaster, where guests come on and describe what their dream meal is. “It’s the sort of inane discussion we all have with our friends– utterly universal” Ed explains. “James and I already had a shared love of food. We’re good mates and go out for many meals together and can discuss them for hours.” While Ed admits the podcast “won’t change the world”, it’s certainly a brilliant listen. “Food is a shared passion by everyone” he explains.
While Ed says he would love to do more acting in the future, he explains that the good thing about stand-up is, when all else fails, “you’ve always got the gig”. It seems much is in the pipeline for Ed, but he doesn’t let it stress him out, and seems excited about the future. “I think you take it as it comes” he explains. “You just never know what’s going to come along.”
Photograph via Avalon UK