He first rose to fame on the set of British soap opera Hollyoaks, before moving on to the equally popular medical drama Casualty. But there’s more to James Redmond than chiselled good looks and dramatic acting as he has now made a strong name for himself in stand-up comedy. I took the opportunity to interview him when he was in Malta to take part in the last Eden Comedy Club event.
How would you describe your style of humour?
I’m the bloke down the pub, a storyteller really. I like silly situations and observations.
How do you describe your experience on Casualty?
It was great fun, I was back in my home town for five and a half years…erm, learning to act! I’d been a fan as a kid, so playing so many scenes with Charlie Fairhead was brilliant. Derek Thompson, who plays him, is a lovely guy. Very funny and generous.
Any favourite moments from on-set? Do you miss it at all?
My favourite on-set moment was actually on the set of another British soap opera called Hollyoaks, when the lights went out while filming. We froze on the spot, they came back on and actor Ben Hull just clutched his throat and dramatically yelled out… “MY PEARLS!” I do miss it a bit, because I will always enjoy acting. Not that I’ve stopped. In fact I’ve just shot a short film and a sit-com pilot.
Which was the biggest challenge in playing John Denham?
The emotional scenes are always the toughest for blokes, I reckon. Having to go from happy to screaming and shouting or crying, take after take for twelve hours is tough, especially if the last time you cried was watching (footballer Paul Gascoigne) Gazza’s bottom lip quiver in 1990.
You left Casualty to focus on stand-up comedy – how has the experience been so far?
I’m loving it. Learning a new skill is always stimulating and comedians are very supportive on the whole.
Which is most difficult? Stand-up or television?
I’d say stand up is both the easiest and most difficult form of entertainment to get right. You get immediate feedback as you have a live audience. If you can make them laugh every five seconds, it feels easy… but if you can’t it’s more difficult than acting, presenting or playing music, where audiences are far more forgiving and will applaud even the limpest of performances.
Which do you prefer?
What’s the scariest bit about stand-up?
If you lose the audience in your first five minutes, it’s a struggle to get them back for the remaining fifteen or 25. I imagine it’s even harder if you’re doing an hour or more.
How do you describe yourself?
I always find that impossible. Hopefully, I’m just funny.
Triumph over adversity. I’m lucky to have met some incredible people who’ve overcome illnesses, disability or injury to enjoy a full life. That always humbles me and puts my day-to-day problems into perspective. In comedy, I’m always inspired by acts that keep it simple and make it look easy. Some of my heroes are great but I wouldn’t have the first clue how to write how they do, so they’re less inspiring, more spirit-crushing!
What do you believe makes good comedy?
Charisma and a good connection with your audience. Material is important but if you’re not interesting to watch, you’re not a comedian, you’re a writer.
Is this your first time performing in Malta? What are you expecting? Yeah, I can’t wait. My brother’s a regular visitor and told me to expect friendly, down-to-earth people and great weather.
And what can your Maltese audience expect?
A very British sense of humour and a pasty complexion.
If you were not doing comedy, what would you be doing?
Acting or presenting, probably. Or signing on.
Who are your own favourite comedians?
Well, Daniel Kitson’s my favourite on the UK circuit, but my heroes growing up were the Eddies – Eddie Murphy and Eddie Izzard.
And what kind of humour do you find it difficult to ‘get’?
Anything bigoted, to be honest. I’m from a very liberal family and love human diversity. I’ve got huge respect for the comedy talent of Bernard Manning, for example, but have always found it uncomfortable to watch him.
You best on stage moment was…?
Probably following Russell Howard at The Comedy Store in London and not getting booed off. I was also quite proud of slamming a heckler, who misunderstood my gag about dyslexia and complained it was offensive. I told him to stick his complaint in writing but get someone to spell check it.
Any funny mishaps you’d like to share with us?
Forgetting comedian Lucy Porter’s name while introducing her was embarrassing. She was fine about it, but I was a mess.
How do you “keep it fresh”?
I scribble ideas down in a tiny notebook and try them out on better comedians!
Are your acts totally spontaneous or is there a script?
I’m not telling! Fine, okay… hopefully spontaneous if I’m compèring and 50/50 if I’m doing a set.
Do you travel a lot because of your profession and how does this affect your lifestyle?
Perpetually! At my level, we’re on the road four nights a week on average. I live in London but, even in such a comedy-rich city, I struggle to get gigs there more than twice-a-week.
Which is your favourite TV show nowadays?
Match Of The Day. Sorry. Always has been and always will be.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Scottish footballer Kenny Dalglish’s strike partner.
A movie you can watch over and over again?
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Anchor Man.
From all your TV work, which production do you have the fondest recollections of and why?
It’s a toss-up, but Hollyoaks was my big break so I’ll go for that. I learnt so much there and made some lifelong friends.
This interview was published on The TV Guide (The Times of Malta).