Lewis Costello, Eddie Izzard, Thom Yorke, Russell Howard, Doug Stanhope - Stand Up & Be Counted: Lewis Costello
Lewis Costello 25/10/2010
Lewis Costello is a seventeen year old stand-up comedian. Since his first performance at the age of fifteen, he has supported Ed Byrne on tour, been a writer for Russell Howard's Good News and performed with circuit legends from Brendon Burns to Simon Munnery and Mark Steel. Now, having performed in New York and featured regularly alongside Johnny Vegas, in August Lewis perform his own show at the Leicester Square Theatre.
Lewis Costello left his year long tenure on BBC Radio Lancashire to focus on stand-up and after performing at this years' Latitude Festival and gearing up for a run supporting Doug Stanhope in London, he debuted his first solo effort this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. Lewis gives GIITTV an exclusive look behind the scenes and into the world of such a fast rising young comic, and the inspirations behind his talent:
I've always really admired Eddie Izzard, for quite a few reasons. In most of his specials, he walks on stage in full transvestite mode and proceeds to do a show in which he rarely, if at all, mentions the way that he is dressed. He isn't using his transvestism as a hook; he is just being himself and writing the material he wants to write. I think that's pretty inspiring. It certainly had an effect on me; I started performing at 15. I never really wanted to write routines based on my age, or even address it. I had a throwaway line that I would use at the beginning of performances, and that was it.
In the midst of being referred to as a 'teenage comedy jester' in a newspaper and a 'very young comic' by most MC's, an image is formed for you. I was once asked this in a radio interview, verbatim; "So what is your stuff then, is it all about PlayStations and your family?” That kind of sums it up. I know some comics would love to have such an obvious hook, but I don't think it has ever really done me any favours. It restricts what you can talk about. I decided I didn't want the gimmick pretty quickly, but still, it was interesting to start performing at such a young age!
It seems every three months or so, I look back and see what a stupid fuck I've been. Emailing long winded CV's, booking insane gigs, recording a video of my act in Salford without legible audio and actually using it... Yep, I'm an idiot. But at least I'm gradually realising it. Doing comedy based on life experience gets a little tricky as well, considering that I've only had about four life experiences in all.
I once did a gig in my hometown, performing some tried and tested material to a crowd of around a hundred. The MC, whose name I forget, introduced me - "Next up is a very young local comic! He's only young, so are you all going to make him feel welcome? Excellent! Please welcome to the stage, your very own Lewis Costello!” And it wouldn't have been so bad, but my set was about evolution and rape alarms. I think I forgot my routine about a wacky family having fun on the PlayStation. I didn't go down so well. After the show, the venue manager came up to me; "I think that they didn't approve of someone your age knowing about rape." He knew it was stupid, I did too, but it was true. In an ideal world, rape is a secret until it happens.
It's not all bad, though! Firstly, stand-up money for a student is pretty good. I have quite a few friends who are struggling to get the very worst jobs at the moment, so I really was in the right place at the right time. I'm still pretty poor, but that's because I get in around an hour's work per month. I get by, which is cool. And it doesn't get taxed, so in my mind, I'm sticking it to the government and beating the system. Fight the power.
I'm still young enough to not be jaded by it all, as well! It's taken me to New York, London, it's snuck me into festivals... I owe it big time. It's so weird, really. As hard as it is to convince people, I'm shy. And unless I have a drink in me, I am pretty awkward the first few times I meet someone. I have absolutely no idea how I did my first gig, it's all a blur. What I can remember is one of the most awkward interviews ever for the local paper the week before... It was entirely my fault.
"So were you always the funny one in school?"
"No, I'm not that funny."
"But you're doing stand-up!"
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"So would you say you're very humble then?"
"No, because anyone who calls themselves humble is almost always a dick."
I don't suppose I am the most quotable person. I'm just not the obvious candidate for a stand-up comic. Never thought I was funny, still don't, too young, never stick to things (I once wanted to be a baseball player and an animator in the same day), lazy, quite a drifter, generally a loser. I didn't collect my results from college because I was sleepy. That's me. But at the same time, it's great to be able to think of something and present it to people who want to listen. It's a job geared for a lazy outcast loser with opinions, and I don't know how it found me, but somewhere in between hating indie hipsters passionately and trying to turn people on to Thom Yorke, it did. And I'm pretty fucking glad it did. Speaking of which... Have you heard Thom Yorke's solo album?
For more info on Lewis Costello's comedy go here: