Meet Jamie Green, the criminology student and 'sit-down stand-up comedian'
Share This Article:
Jamie Green introduces himself as a ‘sit-down stand-up comedian’.
As well as travelling the country performing comedy sets, Jamie is also a third-year criminology student at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. He has cerebral palsy, and so has been in a wheelchair since he was a toddler. We had a chat with him about student life, making it in comedy and accessibility in the industry.
Hi Jamie! Tell us about how you got into comedy.
I’ve always watched stand-up comedy, since I was very young. Then one day in 2011 I saw an advert for an open mic night on Facebook. It was near where I lived so I went down with a few notes scribbled on my hand and did it! It went quite well!
So you’ve been at it for a while then?
Yes. I've also done some stand-up comedy courses to give me writing techniques, and ways to build a presence on stage.
Do you still get nervous before you perform?
Yes, I always get nervous. But I believe that nerves show that you care about what you’re just about to do, so if I wasn’t nervous then I’d be a bit worried.
You’re studying criminology, but you do a lot of standup comedy. What would you like to do in the future?
I’d love to become a professional comic but it takes a while, a lot of hours, and a lot of travelling up and down the country… but that is my main goal.
It’s a tough industry to break into. Have you found that being disabled has made it even harder?
Well, my disability does give me a lot of material, so in a way it helps me. But comedy clubs, especially at the level I’m at, are mostly upstairs in the top rooms of pubs or downstairs in the basement, so they’re very rarely accessible. It can be difficult, but it’s also given me a lot of material, so I wouldn’t change it.
Is there anything you wish that audiences or venues would do better?
Making their venues accessible, and understanding what having disability access actually is, because a lot of people think that just having a disabled toilet makes you accessible, whereas it doesn’t if that disabled toilet is up a flight of stairs.
And what about the audiences?
I believe that I am breaking down barriers the minute I open my mouth, or go on stage. You can clearly see that I’m in a wheelchair, and that I’ve got some kind of physical impairment, but the minute I come out on stage and I open my mouth and I talk, dare I say, ‘normally’, I think people are like, ‘wow, didn’t expect that’. And I always make sure my opening line is a really good one, so they’re kind of shocked into laughing, if that makes sense. I know that a lot of audience members have preconceived ideas about people with disabilities.
Are there other comics who inspire you?
I’ve always been a massive fan of Billy Connolly, and Russell Brand just because he’s completely wacky and out there. I like the TV show ‘The Last Leg’ on channel 4 as well, and Adam Hills on that. I wouldn’t say it’s inspiring, but it’s good to see disability on a mainstream channel. I think the Olympics and the Paralympics in 2012 helped that - the show came from the Paralympics.
Do you think things have changed a lot since then?
I would say that disability is seen in a more positive light nowadays than it has been, but I believe there’s a long way to go.
What do you have planned in the next few years?
Within the next couple of years I’m planning to write an hour-long show and take it up to the Edinburgh Fringe. My comedy teachers have taught me that you’re only new once, so I’m trying to write the best possible material I can and take it up there with me, so people notice me straightaway.
Have you done a show that long before?
No, I do on average about 20-25 minutes. I also run my own comedy night called Wisecrack Comedy at the Tram Depot in Cambridge, which I MC, so I’m on stage quite a bit. I have to come up with new material because a lot of the audience members are regulars, so I’m constantly writing new stuff to keep it fresh.
Do you have to travel a lot to perform?
Yes, I travel around quite a bit. I’ve been to places like Newcastle and Manchester, and I do spots at a comedy club called Angel in London. I’m lucky to have a motability car so I’m pretty free to travel, the main struggle is finding a personal assistant to come with me.
How do you balance your studies with performing comedy so often?
I suppose you have to treat being a student like a full-time job – you have to give a certain amount of hours a week to make sure you get the grades at the end of it. But I find it quite easy to manage, as I book my comedy quite far in advance, and I’m given my deadlines quite far in advance as well. The only other thing to mention is two charities: Path to Success and Action for Kids. Without them I wouldn’t have my wheelchair and my independence, so I wouldn’t be able to be a student or to go and do comedy.
Path to Success is a charity with a focus on disability, homelessness and education in both the UK and India. Find out more here. You can also find out more about Jamie's regular comedy nights in Cambridge here.