EP30 – James Alderson – How to go full time in less than two years and start your own comedy competition

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EP30 – James Alderson – How to go full time in less than two years and start your own comedy competition



Total run time: 1 hour 03 mins 58 secs.

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About James Alderson…

James Alderson (@comedyjames) fell into a  career in comedy after some personal circumstances made him want to give it a go. Two years later he’s a full time professional club comic. I spoke to him about how he found a way of starting a career in comedy later than most and how he managed to start making money from it so quickly. 

James also founded and runs the South Coast Comedian of the Year award. We discussed this in detail including why a comedian would want to run a competition, what he gets out of it and the negative results of putting your head above water to try and help out fellow comedians.

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Here’s a list of questions we covered… 

South Coast Comedian of the Year award…

  • Why did you begin it & why? [47 mins 20 secs]
  • Has it negatively impacted on your career or burned any bridges? [47 mins 32 secs]
  • How did you make it established because anyone can start an award. That’s the interesting thing and why there’s so many. We could start an award right now. [47 mins 32 secs]
    • Was your choice impacted by the fact there are less and less for people who start comedy later in life like you did?
  • Sponsored by Fosters… does this impact your choices? We talked to Kate Copstick who went into detail about how the Fosters award in Edinburgh has politics behind it. Do they have a say in yours? [51 mins 31 secs]
    • Copsticks Podcast
  • What do you get out of running a competition? [50 mins 06 secs]
  • Who picks the wildcards? [43 mins 49 secs]
  • How do you pick the panel of judges? [54 mins 50 secs]
    • Angela Barnes
    • Aidan Goatley’s podcast

The Portsmouth Comedy Circuit…

  • You said there isn’t one? [4 mins 30 secs]
  • Travelling as a performer. [11 mins 05 secs]
    • Sarah Calihan
  • Making a name for yourself outside of London. [4 mins 30 secs]
  • Being a uni town, help / hurts the circuit? [6 mins 35 secs]
  • Do you think bars can make more money from drink than art? [6 mins 35 secs]
  • Your gigs and an overview of the circuit in Portsmouth / the coast [8 mins 05 secs]
    • Joe Wells
    • Simon Fielder
    • Simon Wozniak
  • Why would you stay in Portsmouth if there’s no circuit? [9 mins 48 secs]
  • Going pro after only 2 years in comedy. What does that mean to you and how did you do it? [12 mins 42 secs]
  • At what point did you know you could go pro? [13 mins 42 secs]
  • Why he chased the club gigs rather than the show circuit. [15 mins 03 secs]
  • Do you find it creatively fulfilling to do the same club set over and over again? [19 mins 43 sec]
  • How do you pay the bills with only 3 – 4 nights a week? [22 mins 12 secs]
  • How do you pitch / brand yourself at gigs? [24 mins 13 secs]
  • Is he stereotyped as an “old man” on the bill? [27 mins 20 secs]
    • Hils Jago
  • Thoughts on being pigeon-holed for what you look like. [30 mins 20 secs]
    • John Bishop
    • Michael McIntyre
  • What thoughts did you put into your look / material / persona? [33 mins 30 secs]
  • Advice for comedians on how to look like a professional comedian. [35 mins 30 secs]
  • What do you mean by the term “turn pro”? [56 mins 40 secs]

Chortle Correspondence Article [link]…


  • Why did you write it? [38 mins 25 secs]
  • You seemed to have a little dig at free comedy nights, do you think they’re not worth doing? I’ve done good ones like Angel. And I’ve done bad ones which charge… [40 mins 47 secs]
  • Do you think the comedians union will help this? [44 mins 02 secs]

Family / Personal…


  • Do you find it’s caused you issues? [16 mins 30 secs]
  • His previous career and chance in job. [16 mins 30 secs]
  • Why is he in comedy? [18 mins 08 secs]
  • What did you do before comedy? [32 mins 40 secs]
  • What advice would you have for a performer who asks you how to make it? [57 mins 49 secs]




Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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