There’s nothing that we love more than a good laugh, and since 2007 Tom Rosenthal has provided us with more than just a few
Hailing from the mean streets of Berkshire, the 24 year old has already been nominated as the Best Breakthrough Act at the British Comedy Awards and was a joint winner of the Leicester Mercury comedian of the year.
If that’s not enough, he’ll be returning to the award winning ‘Friday Night Dinner’ this autumn and we can even look forward to a Christmas special too!
We love fresh faced comedy with a pinch of sarcasm and a healthy dollop of wit. Tom’s unashamedly straight to the point humor satisfies our comedy cravings and understandably, we couldn’t wait to speak to the man himself.
So Tom, who is Tom.. who are you?
My name is Tom (laughter). I’m a boy in Islington, London and I’m an actor and a comedian and I like football and I sleep a bit too much.
So tell me a bit about stand up and why you kind of got into comedy in the first place?
Erm, I went to a sort of posh school where we used to do public speaking competitions. They took us around the world to compete in Canada and Cyprus and stuff. That was really cool.
Yeah so I got quite a lot of confidence in myself. I used to do the funny ones and it went OK and then I left school and went to University. I was confident in myself, quite a precocious, arrogant little child, who would go and talk to people in pubs and never really stopped doing it. At university I would talk to drunk people every night and left university being a bit like: “oh, I don’t wanna get a real job, I wanna sleep”. So I just kept doing it really.
So what were those events called then? Is it schools that host those speaking events?
Yeah, one was called International Independent Public Speaking competition. There was a couple and we used to do things like that with all these posh kids from around the world. It was supposed to groom you to be future leaders of the world, but it was basically just a geek collective.
I guess it’s kind of a good thing to build that confidence when you moved on to become a working comedian?
Yeah, definitely. I’d put a lot down to it, I loved my school, they were really nice to me and they made me think I was good at it. That’s half the battle really, in just having the confidence to be able to get on stage and actually try it.
Are you still doing stand up stuff at the moment or is it more TV focused?
Yeah I’m doing quite a lot of stand up on the London radar. I prefer to do gigs where they’re open minded. I’ll try out new jokes and stuff because I’ll be doing Edinburgh again next year. I’m trying to work on stuff in London and I gig most nights at the moment.
How long is a typical stand up gig then for you?
A typical set, if I’m getting paid, you’ll get 20 minutes or 25 minutes. At these open mic things, you turn up and the London stand up scene is amazing. There are so many people that want to do it. It’s weirdly more competitive. It’s levelled up if you know what I mean. There are loads of people rocking up every night and you’ll get 15 or 20 people performing in a night, doing a 5 minute set each. It’s just like a marathon and you’ve gotta get through all of them.
See Tom in action
So you’re kind of covert, going in, testing out material and stuff?
Yeah, exactly. It’s also more creatively satisfying to do stuff that’s new. You’ve got your jokes that work and you know you need them for important gigs. Other times you sit there and write a joke in a day and say it that night and see how it goes.
So is there a place we can see you, like a regular place you go?
On Mondays I regularly perform at Parachute Productions comedy night at the Hope and Anchor in Islington. On Tuesdays, a night called TNT at Tollirano’s in Camden. I’d highly recommend both those gigs.
Did you have an acting background or was it literally just the stand up that got you there?
I did some plays at university. I don’t know if that would really class as an acting background. We took a few up to Edinburgh; there’s one called ‘Lucidity’ which is like a classic student play about drug addiction and mental illness.
We did one called the Bacai, which is a sight specific thing around Kings garden. Really wicked and weird. It was directed by a girl called Daisy Adams who’s gone on to be really successful. She’s getting funding from Skylarks and she’s done some awesome stuff.
I also played Hamlet.
I managed to sneak my way in [to stand up comedy], which was very lucky to get that opportunity. It’s all kicked off from there really. It’s going alright but it’s a pretty tough industry to get into.
Channel 4′s Friday Night Dinner; that’s been pretty successful.
Yeah, we’re really pleased with how the first series went and the second one’s coming out at the start of October. We’re very excited for it and got ourselves a Christmas special as well. I think it’s the first time ever for that to happen, so we’re just looking forward to seeing how it goes. I’m sure it’s funny, and can’t wait for you all to see it.
So what’s the money like in TV then?
Erm… it’s bloody fine mate. Its bloody fine. I certainly can’t complain. I’ve got a friend who’s a civil engineer and I think last year I earned a little bit more than him, by a little I mean very little. Unless you’re in ‘The Inbetweeners’ then it’s millions of pounds. For someone of my age it’s absolutely fine. It’s not a pauper’s life, but it’s not a millionaire’s life.
What’s it like being on a panel show like ’8 Out of 10 Cats’?
When I did ‘Cats’ I completely shat my pants. It was really scary and it was a very different experience.
The difference is that it’s obviously not just you doing it so you’re kind of in competition with other people in a strange way. When you’re doing stand up you’re completely in control of everything whether it goes badly, whether it goes well and you can dictate the rhythm and the pace. With panel shows, often it’s like the loudest voice or the most confident will get in first. There’s a bit of a competitive atmosphere between performers. However, on ’8 Out of 10 Cats’ they’re very nice and almost go: it’s your turn now, while with ‘Mock the Week’ there’s a lot more combat; you’ve gotta start talking before anyone else starts talking
A Comedy fight then!
Obviously comedians are quite big characters and I never really classed myself as that, dominating a conversation that I never really liked just to hold court. That’s pretty much what you’ve gotta do in life. It’s a different skill and it’s useful for your career. It’s obviously got a lot of fans but it’s something that I wouldn’t class myself as. I’m not the expert at all and I would strive to get better.
It’s not all about ‘Friday Night Dinner’ with you is it – tell WUWO Magazine a bit more about your other project?
It’s this new thing that we’re doing, filming in the next couple of months, it should be on next year and it’s set in ancient Rome. It’s about three young guys; a classic big city tale.
It’s really exciting, really cool class. We filmed in Bulgaria, which is a whole new experience. It’s written by Sam Leaves (also the director) and Tom Baston. It’s got a lot of fresh meat, it’s got pretty good comedy pedigree. The executive producer worked on ‘The Inbetweeners’ and it’s got really good people behind it.
Interview by Steven Godwin