ED2018 Chris Meets ED2018 Comedy ED2018 Interviews

Jake Howie: Read My Lips

By | Published on Sunday 5 August 2018

Having performed improv, theatre and on the telly back in his home country of New Zealand, Jake Howie relocated to the UK in 2013 to pursue a career in stand-up. Since then he’s been doing a very good job of winning a bunch of new talent awards on the UK comedy circuit.

This month he is in Edinburgh with his show ‘Read My Lips’ promising a frank but optimistic take on “life, love, sex and politics”. With that in mind, we decided to throw some general questions in his direction.

CC: Hello, good to meet you. Let’s start at the start, how did you first get into this performing lark?
JH: I was a typical drama kid growing up in New Zealand, in that I loved performing, I loved musicals and I loved cock – a fact that was clear to everyone apart from me! I had done improv in Auckland. When I moved to London I had no friends, so I decided to try stand-up. And the rest is history!

CC: What motived that move to the UK?
JH: I moved to London for the culture, the art and to hook up with foreign men, a bit like Diane Lane’s character in ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’. Only in Britain. I feel like London is the true home of stand-up and I thought some Kiwi spice was just what they needed.

CC: How would you describe your stand-up? Who are you inspirations?
JH: Upbeat, ridiculous and optimistic. The whole “down in the dumps” buzz is such eye roll material. We’re on the brink of nuclear war so let’s laugh at my sordid sex stories! No one needs a Debbie downer, it’s all about the upper! My biggest icons would be Amy Schumer, Joy Behar and Sarah Silverman.

CC: You mentioned the improv and you also did more conventional acting back in New Zealand. How do they compare to stand-up?
JH: Being able to say whatever I want is a dream. I always wanted to call people out on their shit and stand-up allows me to get lippy and give the hard word on things I think are destroying the world, like poverty and social media influencers.

CC: What can we expect from ‘Read My Lips’?
JH: You can expect to leave feeling uplifted and fizzing with joy. You can also expect tales from my childhood in Scientology, erotic details of Italian married life and plenty of b-hole jokes all soaked in an attitude that is inspired by my passion for women in rap.

CC: As you say, you’re an optimist, but the show promises a frank discussion of the world today. Is it possible to be an optimist while looking at the world in 2018?
JH: We’re in a city that allows you to eat deep fried carbs and drink wine before midday without judgement. What’s there not to be happy about?

CC: So, does the show ultimately have an optimistic message?
JH: Optimism is in my blood. My mum is so positive that she calls Blackpool “charming”. So I was raised to look past vomit on the boardwalk to see the sun rising over the sea. Which is a beautiful metaphor, but also literal if you go to Blackpool. And if Britney can get through 2007, we can get through this.

CC: Did you write the show from scratch or does it bring together material you’ve been performing on the circuit?
JH: I wrote most of it for Edinburgh, but I also have a few old faves. How could I possibly do a show without my ‘Cum Face Medley’?

CC: You’ve been competing in and mainly winning lots of new talent competitions. If you had to pick one, which was the best?
JH: My favourite memory was winning New Act Of The Year at the Reading Comedy Festival in 2015. I was such a new comedian then and it was the biggest audience I’d ever played to. And this big, burly old man – who looked miserable – snort-laughed to a dirty blowjob joke and I felt like Mother Teresa for making him laugh.

CC: Are competitions of that kind important in building your profile and audience?
JH: Winning gives you motivation to keep going, but building an audience is really about playing the clubs. You meet so many people at clubs who are so happy to hear a voice they connect to, and they follow you and show up to gigs unannounced. Sometimes I’m scared they want to murder me, but mostly they’re sweet.

CC: What has motivated you to do the full hour solo show at the Fringe this year?
JH: Because I feel like I’m the only gay Kiwi boy who is married to an Italian stallion, was raised in the church of Scientology and listens exclusively to Nicki Minaj. I feel like these are three untapped niches that somebody had to explore.

CC: How have you been preparing for the Festival?
JH: Gigging all over the UK and performing sometimes unsolicited previews for friends. The best was one I did in Italy, with a crazy view of the hills behind me and an Aperol spritz in hand. I felt like Sofia Loren.

CC: Other than performing, what else are you hoping to do while you are in Edinburgh?
JH: As I said, eat deep fried goods and drink wine before midday sans judgement – I love this city.

CC: Finally, looking beyond the festival, what have you got planned for the next year?
JH: I’m heading home to do the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, I’ll be writing my new show and with any luck I’ll get knocked up. Fingers crossed!

Jake Howie performed ‘Read My Lips’ at Just The Tonic at the Caves at Edinburgh Festival 2018.

Photo: Rebecca Need-Menear