Howard Smith is a man with great comic timing; mainly because he’s a stand up. Not only a stand up but lead singer of UK thrashers Acid Reign. He kindly agreed to answer some questions about life as a comedian and member of a thrash metal band.
This will be interesting…
How did you get into comedy?
Pretty simple, I knew I wanted to do it, thought the best place to do it was London so moved here and started booking gigs. That was 23 years ago.
What was your first stand up gig like?
Same as everyone’s – shit. Forgot my material half way through and cut my set short. Comedy and music are so different, the only similarity is that they take place on stage in front of an audience.
How do you handle hecklers?
I don’t really get them. If I’m headlining and there’s some chatty person who has been interrupting other acts during the night I will wait for them to try it with me. They usually don’t but if they do I will just go in really hard. Not insulting but just put him/her in their place. By that time, he/she has worn their ticket with the rest of the crowd too so they get behind you. MC-ing is different though as you need to find a balance of being firm and friendly, three strikes rule and on the third they get both barrels. Fourth strike is hit the bricks, thrown out. Stag/hen do’s are the worst. They can ruin an entire evening for all concerned. I’ve seen so many chucked out in the first interval.
What’s the best heckle you’ve heard and a retort?
As a comic, you work on material for months getting the timing, phrasing everything right and then just before the punch line some drunk idiot shouts something he thinks is funny. That ruins the gag because now you must deal with the pissed-up fool. At a comedy show the funny people are on stage not in the audience.
Which comedian made you want to get into this profession?
Lots and lots over the years but the stand out would be Robin Williams at the Royal Variety, I think it was ’86 or ’87. I’d never seen stand up with so much energy before. I must have nearly worn that video tape out. I saw the show recently on YouTube and after all these years it was still brilliant, I have always remembered a few gags from that set that I can recite to this day.
You’re lead singer of metal band Acid Reign. Which came first – music or comedy?
Music, comedy came after the band. Actually it came after my band after Acid Reign, Strange Thing.
How did the forming of this band come about?
We all went to school together. Very boring really, nothing to see here.
Comedy Central want to do a comedy roast on you. You choose the five people who are going to roast you… who would they be?
I fucking hate comedy roasts, lame American concept of getting everyone in a room to take the piss. Well, we Brits do that all the time so we don’t need them and the one’s I’ve seen over here have been bad, car crash bad, look at the floor bad.
Which song or album still sends shivers down your spine?
Too many to mention, tons. I’ve just got back from a Life Of Agony show and it happened more than once tonight.
If you could describe yourself in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
What’s tougher, performing in front of a music or a comedy crowd?
As mentioned earlier they are apples and oranges, I don’t find either tough or I wouldn’t do them. I love them both!
What are your plans for the rest of 2017 and the start of 2018?
Writing a new album hopefully releasing it and touring it end of 2018. Fingers crossed as we haven’t written it yet but we’re getting there. Slowly.
I’m going to be doing some spoken word shows called “An Evening With H”. It’s 90 mins of me telling about stories from the road back in the day, about how things have changed and a Q and A. I’ve just booked the first one which is in Burnley Sanctuary Rock Bar on Friday December 15th. That’s an exclusive – it’s not been announced yet!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you?
Any of the big four, Rush, Descendents. Opening for us? Sadly defunct UK legends Reuben.
A question from a previous band of the day feature, The Twistettes. They ask who actually took the bomp from bompalompalomp?
Someone took the bomp?
Another is from Thunder On the Left: If you punch yourself and it really hurts, does that make you strong or weak?
Neither, it means you are stupid.
Finally, is there a question, you would put to the next band or person we speak to?