The Boy with Tape on his Face: ‘I decided to tape my mouth shut’

Stand up comedy usually involves people telling it like it is, but you won’t get a thing out of Sam Wills.

Better know as ‘The Boy with tape on his face’, Wills was catapulted from a position of relative ‘Fringe’ obscurity to TV fame when he appeared on this year’s principal BBC Comedy Prom at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Shortly before he played his first Nottingham gig at The Glee Club, Platform’s David Cornish quizzed The Boy about comedy, life and tape.

What drew you to a career in mime and circus performing?
When I was little I was given a magic set as a present. Through learning the various tricks I was introduced to a clown, who in turn pointed me in the direction of a circus school. It was there that I discovered an alternative sideshow that opened up the doors of stand-up comedy.

When putting together routines for ‘The Boy with Tape on His Face’, what inspirations do you draw on?
I listen to a lot of music and sometimes an idea will just spark. Sometimes I get my inspiration from walking around small hardware shops.

Sam began his career as a circus act and comedy performer in his native New Zealand. He left his home for London in 2008, presenting himself with the challenge of rebuilding a reputation in a foreign land. Does he enjoy living and working in London?
There are more shows to be done over here and you can access the rest of the world pretty easily compared to New Zealand.

Do you think that circus acts and street performers are a dying breed? How much life is there in the industry?
Far from it! Circus schools all over the world are pumping out many highly skilled performers. Many of them don’t end up working in circuses, so they develop street performing acts instead.

What’s the hardest aspect of your job?
Most people think that I spend all my time onstage having fun. In reality, I’m usually at my computer working out a routine and digging through different notes that I’ve taken. I like to use lists…many, many lists. I would say the hours that I put into developing a show is the real killer, and the fact that I find it hard to shut my brain down. I can’t not think about show stuff.

Do you find it hard to get gigs as a ‘comedy mime act’?
Far from it. The biggest problem I have at the moment is trying to find when I can get some time off. I’m thinking 2015…

Tell me about the worst day in your career?
That would have to have been the very first day that I decided that I wanted to be a professional entertainer. I made the decision, opened my diary and realised I had nothing booked. Curses.

And the best day?
I’m still waiting for it to happen. Then I’ll stop.

What’s your dream?
To wake up.

If you weren’t in this line of work, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be running a bookshop that sells good coffee.

 

You can catch Sam as ‘The Boy with tape on his face’ on the following dates in 2011, but be sure to look out for him when he returns to Nottingham:

Wed 16th November: Parabola Arts Centre – Cheltenham

Fri 18th November: Hearns Hotel – Clonmel IRE

Sat 19th November: Arosa Humor Festival – Switzerland

 

David Cornish – Platform

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