Rob Grant Stands Up

Red Dwarf's co-creator takes to the stage.

18 September, 2009

Well, this is an unexpected turn of events. Writer Rob Grant - whose novels Fat and Incompetence give my bookshelf the appearance that I'm essentially only able to read things that are about me - has apparently grown weary of putting words in other people's mouths and is now putting them in his own.

The move into stand-up is both surprising - aside from reverse-smoking in an episode of Red Dwarf he's mostly been a behind-the-camera guy - and appropriate, given the man's comedy CV. Rob let us know how the move into stand up came about:

It's weird: people have been asking me for years if I ever do stand up, and now I'm doing it, people are asking me why the hell I'm doing stand up. It sort of started when I was doing book signing tours. I'd often have to do a kind of 'Evening with...' event, after a bout of radio interviews, and it was a case of cobbling an act together or suffering humiliating silences and embarrassing mumblings.

By the end of a tour, I'd have a pretty polished routine going, and it struck me it was fairly close to stand-up. I missed the instant feedback I used to get from live radio and TV audiences; it's what I live for, really. So I thought I'd give it a whirl. It was a real blast. Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Rob Grant Stands Up

And it will come as little surprise that there are a few familiar topics among the repertoire. Well, that's the glorious thing about stand up: you can talk about pretty much anything. I mostly do observational stuff. I don't talk about Red Dwarf per se, but I do a bit about SF conventions, and another bit about fantasy novels, that kind of thing. It depends on the audience - it's weird how an audience has a kind of gestalt identity. Sometimes, the SF and the technology stuff leaves them completely cold, and you sense you're more likely to succeed talking about fun-sized chocolate bars. I'm not interested in being just another stand up: I want to engage people's minds and make them think about stuff in a different way. Of course, first and foremost, I want to make them laugh.

If this is the first you're hearing about Rob's new direction, you're probably not alone. And it seems that partly comes from a deliberate intention to start out 'under the radar':

I only started doing it this year, and I wanted to make my mistakes in a fairly low-key way. I'm not exactly a comedy novice, but I'm not so arrogant I think I can stand on a stage and be a flawless performer from the get-go. I'm confident enough in the material I generate, but, obviously, I need to hone my presentation techniques. Every show, I learn something new, and get just a little bit better. Fairly soon, I'm sure I'll be able to walk on stage without actually fainting.

So - the future?

I'm doing odd gigs up and down the country right now, in preparation for a very mini-tour of a one-man show later in the year. If that goes well, I'll do a slightly grander tour next year. Tour details [are] on my website. So visit to find out more - dates right now include September 26th (Grantham), October 9th (Hereford) and 23rd (Runcorn), November 14th (Basingstoke) and December 11th (Norwich).

Anything else? Another book, of course. Various other projects in development hell. I'll let you know if any of them escape...

You can check out cast and crew websites via our Links section.

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