Have you met Ken Norman?
He’s the driving force behind Chipping Norton’s first Comedy Festival – and the proud owner of Flock Comedy, Chippy’s very own pop-up comedy club.
Home to a clutch of travelling comedians, Flock Comedy runs charity gigs for good causes.
So, laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to raising money around town.
And Ken is throwing his comedy weight behind ECN’s OX7 youth project, offering local youngsters a unique opportunity to get involved in making and staging comedy.
Here’s Ken’s take on life and laughter, rounded off with some sage advice on staying afloat in choppy waters.
Q: How long have you lived in Chippy and do you regard it as home?
Twenty years – absolutely. I moved away last year – hated it – came back.
Q: Do you have a ‘day job’ to support your comedy habit?
Ish. I run Present3r Ltd a business training in sales & presentation skills..
Q: How long have you been involved in comedy?
I belonged to several amateur dramatic societies and always relished comedy roles. In 2000 I put on a two-man comedy review in the West End (at Her Majesty’s Theatre.) For one night only. In 2011 helped run Cotswold Comedy which folded in 2015. Have been running Flock Comedy since then.
Q: What was your best-ever gig?
Best I’ve seen was Lee Evans at Chippy Theatre. Best I’ve done was my first ever attempt at stand-up – 2009 at The Green Dragon in Horsham. Best I’ve run was a night at Rye Hill Golf Club in 2014 where Chris McCausland had people literally crying with laughter.
Q: Is there something in the Chippy water that makes it such a funny place?
Class A drugs.
Q: How much money have you raised for charity so far?
Flock Comedy helps PTAs and charities raise upwards of £1,000 a time – so since 2011 that would be something like £15,000.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of ‘comedy for good causes’?
My wife Kate was chair of the local PTA when our girls were young and I know how hard (and thankless) a task it can be.
Q: Is Netflix killing live comedy or is stand-up alive and well?
Live comedy is alive and well. People who only get their comedy kicks from Netflix are missing out!
Q: How has comedy changed over the last generation?
It changes all the time. As long as there’s a good hearty laugh at the end of it – it’s comedy.
Q: Who are your favourite comedians?
Chris McCausland, Milo McCabe, Nick Page, Andrew Bird, George Egg, Patrick Monaghan, Laura Lexx.
Q: What unique role can young people play in the world of comedy?
Become comedians (I know several young talented comics), get involved back stage (running sound and lights), write comedy, go and see comedy.
Q: How do you see Flock Comedy supporting local youngsters through OX7?
Encouraging them to come as audience/participants. Helping out (moving stuff, setting up.)
Q: What special qualities do you need to make people laugh?
Funny bones, some good jokes, ability to pull faces.
Q: What advice do you have for young people struggling to stay afloat?
Get a raft.
Poor joke but actually serious. We all need a raft to help us stay afloat. That might be in the form of a friend, a family member, a teacher, a mentor, a state-of-mind, a piece of music, a memory, a pet, whatever.
Recognise that no matter how dark things become, there’s ALWAYs the potential of a brighter future. And there’s no shame in climbing aboard your raft (metaphorically speaking – I’m not suggesting you mount your cat.)
If you’re a local youngster keen to get involved in next year’s Comedy Festival on 2-3 March, send us your details on the form below.