Stand-up comedy exists as one of the most over-saturated markets in the entertainment industry, with the comedy clubs of the UK in constant motion as thousands of hopefuls pit their wit against the mirth of the common man. Within that exists a paradox of personalities, as comedians find an on-stage persona that not only ‘fits in’, but also differentiates them from the next act waiting in the wings. Every once in a while, though, something fresh and exciting steps out to take their shot at forging a career in a fickle business.
Enter Ivo Graham – an apologetic, self-deprecating yet charming and linguistically harmonic Eton and Oxford alumnus – armed with an arsenal of cringe-worthy anecdotes and well-crafted observations that would leave even the most awkward British male flinching – or should that be relating? What sets Graham apart from his contemporaries is not only the excellent timing and tone of his jokes but also the beautifully interwoven and constructed nature of his set – truly making every gig ‘a show’. Most comedians have ‘stand-out jokes’ they can turn to with a difficult audience or to inject some energy into the room; Graham’s entire routine is capable of invoking the same effect. He emerged onto the scene in 2009 aged 18 as the youngest ever winner of the respected ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ award, before seamlessly integrating himself into the UK comedy circuit as a regular. His witty charm proved a hit, leading to subsequent TV and radio performances including Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, Live from the BBC and Comedy Central at the Comedy Store.
His material has also been used in other television shows, and he remains in production with Big Talk Productions and the BBC on his own sitcom. Like all ambitious stand-up comedians, Graham has also packed his bags and taken his craft north of the Scottish border to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, where his three solo stand-up shows have enjoyed sell-out runs.
Graham first attracted my attention whilst supporting Josh Widdicombe’s What Do I Do Now? Tour at the Brighton Dome last Autumn. An opportunity to get an extended impression of his talents came a few months later as he played SUSU’s very own Laughter Lounge. And, in good time, I might one day be able to turn smugly to my mates whilst watching his debut, best-selling DVD and say “I remember watching him before he was famous”. It’s a smug feeling I’m looking very much forward to indeed.