Simon Evans is bringing his new show ‘Leashed’ to Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival on the 18th of February at Just the Tonic.
He described the show as “superficially about dog ownership. It is, of course, as always, more profoundly about Human Bondage.” Don’t worry though, the show isn’t an hour of a 45 year old man telling anecdotes about dogs and S&M. The “human bondage” Evans refers to is merely self-restraint and control, and specifically his reluctance to control his inner-fogey, which is waiting to emerge. The theme of his previous show, ‘Friendly-Fire’, was, in Chortle’s words, the state that the country had got itself into. Evans describes the theme of ‘Leashed’ as “The Illusion of Progress. The Obstacles we put between ourselves and simple happiness, self-realisation and being. When I say ‘we’ I mean ‘my wife’.”
Evans has the precise eloquence of Russell Brand combined with the blustering voice of Blackadder’s Lord Flasheart. This isn’t, however, the brattish posh comedy of the likes of Jack Whitehall, this is a gentleman of true class. Evans studied Law at university before becoming a stand-up comedian. The two professions seem farcically dissimilar on the surface, but Evans explained that “Au contraire, law is an excellent training regime for stand up. Putting together coherent argument however outrageous the conclusion one is arguing towards is the core skill of a criminal barrister, which is what I originally wanted to be.”
The law degree and the accent which Evans calls “educated” beg the question: is this is all real? Do men like Evans really exist outside the Conservative party or the Victorian age? Evans says that, as with most comedians, his onstage persona is true but exaggerated. He is insightful about the identity management a comedian must maintain. “You can also grow inside to fit the things you say on stage if you’re not careful.
“Many people have observed that the comedian starts by portraying on stage the thing he is afraid of becoming and then ironically creates a space for himself to become those things. I do think people in this country or at least certainly in comedy are terrified of appearing to cherish learning or proper rigorous thought, let alone uncomfortable truths about modern life.”
To give up the healthy wage of a lawyer, to risk warping his identity and to constantly travel alone – something Evans detests about the job – being a stand-up must be pretty incredible. “I love that you can say whatever you like, that the only limits are your imagination, that honing and polishing brings results and is appreciated, that you can demonstrate real élan if you take the time to prepare and you can find an audience for your turn of phrase and your take on the world and bask in their appreciation and it feels great” he said. What’s more, he’s well on his way to the kind of success which grants a support act and a road crew to alleviate the loneliness of the traveling.
Evans also has several writing credits on his comedy CV, including writing for 8 Out of 10 Cats and Not Going Out. Writing offers more sociable hours, which is useful for a man with children, but Evans fears that it also detracts from the amount of creative energy he can put into his own comedy. In the future, Evans would like to make a living from writing books or journalism, but is sticking to stand up now as he’s sceptical about writing’s ability to financially support his family. “We live in a society where technology has nurtured the often unexamined expectation that writing be done for free. Certainly people expect huge amounts of their journalism and similar content to be available to them free of charge on the internet and this certainly doesn’t bode well for anyone who wants to try and earn money as a writer” he said to me before I wrote up this article without a sniff of a fee and uploaded it to be viewed online for free.
If he could be anything other than a stand-up comedian, Evans wouldn’t be a writer. He wouldn’t be a lawyer either. He would want to do something more physically engaging, as he spends too long in his own head. He’d truly unleash his inner-fogey and become a gardener. “Whenever I go to the big National Trust gardens in Sussex – Wakehurst Place and Nymans are my favourites – I see the guys driving around in little tractors maintaining the beautiful plants and hedges and ponds and so on and I fantasise about being one of them. Then it gets a bit chilly and I go inside for a latte.” Before he swaps his microphone for a trowel, you can see Simon Evans in ‘Leashed’ on the 18th of February at Just the Tonic at 7pm.
To buy tickets for Simon Evans’ show, please go to: https://www.curvetickets.co.uk/comedyfestival/Online/default.asp
Tickets are £12:00, with doors at 6pm. For more information on Simon, visit his website at: http://www.simonevanscomedianetc.com/
Follow writer Matt Watts on Twitter: @iammattwatts