I've been a working paid professional in the comedy industry for a while now, and with moving to a new country, one does have to deal with starting from scratch (albeit with a boat load of experience behind you). When I came to the UK it was to. slake a my passion to learn more and experience more so that I could be a better comic. I had seen international acts travel to NZ for the comedy festival and most if not all were amazing. This lead me to believe that ALL acts from those respective countries had some kind of intrinsic gift for comedy. It was a rude awakening just waiting to happen. It wasn't until I came to the UK that I realised just how strong our comedy scene in New Zealand really was. Yes ours is a small industry in a small country. But it has it's advantages. Not the least of which is a lack of dilution. There are few full time comedians in New Zealand, which in some small way makes it a wee bit easier to succeed in terms of quality stage time and eventually TV work. It's easier to sit down and talk to people who have years more experience than you do. Here in the UK it can take years before you have the opportunity to sit down with someone who has  more than 15 years experience, pick their brains and ponder over what it takes to succeed.
I have been very, very fortunate in that with a bit of gumption, I've managed to get myself into a position where those opportunities are coming along more and more often. What I've learned is... I have so much more to learn! I believe that I'm a pretty good comedian, but doing the shows that I'm doing now I am working with industry professionals who have been working twice sometimes three times longer than I have simply destroying full houses from the moment they walk on stage.
This is why I'm here though, to try and figure out how they work so I can get better at what I do. I wouldn't improve if I were the strongest act on the bill, however facing the prospect of having to admit to myself that I was potentially the weakest link in the chain was something I hadn't expected! This weekend gone, I felt privileged to have been included on a bill studded with first rate acts. Kevin Bridges, Jasper Carrot, Louis Ramey, Myself, Mike Gunn & Valdimir Demetri Kockov (Jasper Blakeley) filling various spots over three nights at Glee in Birmingham. Close to 100 years of comedy experience between us on that bill! What did I learn this time round?
I learned that no matter what kind of comedy purist you pretend to be, EVERYONE who takes the stage presents a character ( even if it's a caricature of themselves), success can be found in developing the right character for your material that people can relate to, that marketing people can sell and that TV people can exploit. I used to think that developing the funniest routine was the route to success, but it's not. It's having the right persona with the material you have already developed. Funny is always going to be funny, but not necessarily marketable. Now funny and the right persona... that's one of the tumblers in the success lock - anyone else hear that 'click'?
I listened to a recording of my set. My set had lots of gaps, pauses for effect, silence for mimed actions or facial expressions used to build tension or illustrate a point. While I'm comfortable being on stage in moments of silence, I realised that it also drags the whole pace of the show down. Louis Ramey did 30 minutes of one liners strung together to form a cohesive story, he used sound effects through the microphone with his expressions and mime. There wasn't a wasted syllable in anything he said. 
 I also noted that I repeated things quite a lot, 'Do you know what makes this country Great? Do you know? I'll tell you what makes this country great..... Bogof's'. I used to think this was a method building the question, reinforcing it so that when the twist is applied and the punchline revealed the twist violently wrenched people from one view to the next. Which it does (or at least it can) But again it slows pace and delivery, and becomes less a clever observation and more a colourful sales patter, one might as well be up on stage saying to the crowd 'Buy this joke... buy this joke...here it is and laugh!'

I also learned how tough it can be to be away from the industry and to try and come back into it. Rust sets in after a month without performing, after a decade you're looking at a complete engine rebuild. Jasper Carrot had not performed live stand up comedy for some 13 years. Starting on Thursday the new material he had was almost all covered by other acts - no new perspectives, just Jasper, the words he'd scrawled on the paper and the crowd. It wasn't very good, but the audience afforded him the respect of who he was and what he had achieved, more of the same on Thursday, by Friday though he had the beginnings of a great piece of material that we all recognised as being worthwhile listening to.
There is only so much you can learn from an open mike night, the basics of microphone technique, the minimums of stagecraft. The sooner you can move off that circuit, the sooner you will be doing paid shows.
For me, I have a lot to work on!

Thanks for reading!