Why is clowning a good thing to learn?
Clown is very useful discipline to learn, it gives us useful tools for any kind of performance whether it be burlesque, stand-up or public speaking, by focussing on what makes us authentic and engaging on stage.
How did you get started?
I started performing comedy in a double act called Moonfish Rhumba, a surreal musical comedy act, who were Hackney Empire and Amused Mouse New Act Finalists and compered the Finger In The Pie Cabaret at Madame Jojos for two years. I also performed fairly traditional stand up for a while. I hadn’t had any formal training when I first started but picked it up as I went along, doing workshops and studying with teachers such as Philippe Gaulier, Mick Barnfather, Nola Rae and John Wright whilst performing and devising shows. This was great because I could put the skills that I learnt straight in to action.
What advice would you offer your younger self or someone starting out?
Get as much stage as possible. Get up and get up again. Oh and do this workshop.
How would you describe the workshop in three words?
Challenging, transformative, fun.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would you collaborate with and why?
There are many people I would love to collaborate with, it would be wonderful to work with Chris Morris or Woody Allen, two of my comedy heroes. But I count myself lucky to be have worked with some very talented and inspirational people, Mick Barnfather (Complicite), Nina Conti and Philip Burgers (Dr Brown) among them.
Who or what most inspires your work?
Performers that have inspired me personally are Peter Sellers, Tommy Cooper, Spike Milligan, Steve Martin to name a few. Whereas my ideas can come from anywhere, from something I hear someone say on a bus, to a book I’m reading. Comedy is everywhere, so I guess what inspires me is idiocy in all its forms wherever it reveals itself.
Dan Lees is a regular performer with Finger in the Pie – having compered the cabaret as one half of Moonfish Rhumba, and won and award for his show Brainchild in our 2014 Mimetic festival. He is teaching the Discover your Clown Workshop running 27 – 28 February 2016