By Mick Jensen
Tinwald School principal Peter Livingstone likes nothing better than putting a smile on a face, or hearing people laugh. Stand-up comedy is his new thing, and he’s the support act for well-known comedian Ben Hurley at a gig in Methven in March.
Peter has performed at four previous pop-up comedy sessions in Methven in recent months and is enjoying the opportunity of delivering his unique style of jokes and stories.
He was given the chance at stand-up by comedy promoter Bec Sandys.
Rehearsing routines, he says, is not done in front of family or friends, but rather to the bubbling background of the spa pool at home.
“I type my ideas up on the laptop and many of them are, to be honest, rubbish. But I often go back and figure out another twist on them.”
Peter said his day job meant he was well practised at delivering clear messages and talking to large numbers.
He had also been an MC for a number of events and a regular local stage performer over the years.
“What I deliver at events and in shows is on behalf of someone else, or prepared text.
“For me, comedy has nothing to do with my day job and is outside of my previous comfort zones.”
He had been “as nervous as hell” at his first stand-up gig, but had got through it.
“Bec Sandys videoed me on stage, so I was able to see how my comedy audience and how I delivered it.
“The dread for all comedians is that they are simply not going to be funny, or get a positive reaction.”
Peter has built on his first gig nerves, slowed down his delivery and learnt to pause for an audience reaction.
Simply standing up and telling an old style joke doesn’t work these days, he says.
“You have to be a story teller, have an original angle and authentically connect with people.
“I take the mickey out of myself and believe in the of the water’ approach of taking one context and putting it into a totally different context.”
He preferred to avoid excessive swearing, didn’t use husband and wife or Donald Trump jokes, and didn’t take digs at the rivalry with Australia in his routine.
Instead, he preferred to use twists on his own experiences and observations, and used comedy to sometimes highlight some serious underlying social issues.
His jokes and stories use an array of life experiences, including his Christian upbringing, strong belief in equality for women, observations of what’s delivered by the media, and simply by people watching.
Peter is a big fan of English comedy, including shows like Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army, and performers such as Rowan Atkinson, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.
He also admires the humour of Michael McIntyre and Ed Byrne.