I am the author of A Director's Guide to the Art of Stand-up published by Bloomsbury Methuen. I direct, script-edit and advise on live comedy shows and related performances; stand-up, sketch comedy, one-person shows, comic plays, science comedy shows and more. I offer a range of options as director from affordable consultations to a full directing process.
Selected Highlights 2009-2020
You Only Live Forever
Edinburgh Fringe 2018
I directed this touching and daft comedy play (by Roxy Dunn & Alys Metcalf) about the effects of eternal life on a couple plus metacomedy interruptions from the performers themselves.
"Although these writer-performers don’t flinch from exploring the implications of one person’s immortality on a relationship, their approach to a subject that is usually the reserve of horror fiction is admirably light of touch. There are poignant moments in Chris Head’s production... but any threatened earnestness is undercut with wit or absurdity. The story opens at a Vegas wedding and ends with a rapping baby. As in the company’s previous Fringe outing [SEE BELOW], the most entertaining elements here are the meta-theatrical interludes, in which Dunn and Metcalf step out of the action to talk about their creative process. The rivalry that characterises their double act is brilliantly sustained with faultless comic timing."
"a playful piece that straddles the lines between theatre and comedy wonderfully... Sharply written and skilfully acted; You Only Live Forever is as daft as it's clever." **** The List
"It’s beautifully directed - the drama of the play develops alongside the comedy of the between-scene interludes: ingenious & compelling." Gyles Brandreth
A complex and far-reaching story is adeptly managed, with lifetimes explored through carefully chosen moments, emotional journeys undertaken and satisfying conclusions reached. Add to this the pair’s natural comic abilities and you have a show full of things to like."
The National Trust Fan Club
Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh 2019
National tour 2020
Following the success of the OS Map Fan Club I co-developed and directed this follow up show, produced by Seabright Productions, where Helen is on a quest to visit every National Trust property. (There's over 500). Packed to the brim with Goretex, cream teas, and a loyal canine assistant (when NT rules allow).
‘Endearing, sincere, wholesome and zany. Comic genius!’ ***** Everything Theatre
‘Enviable rapport with her audience’ Fringe Guru
‘Dry, droll and genuinely funny’ Fringe Review
Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Based on the best selling book, I directed Matt Parker in the stand-up maths comedy Humble Pi exploring the greatest mathematical near-misses and mishaps involving planes, trains and autocorrect.
1 Woman, a High Flyer and a Flat Bottom
Edinburgh Fringe 2017,
Soho Theatre & national tour
I (co) directed this stand-up show from stand-up and actor Samantha Baines, which hilariously celebrates three unjustly forgotten great women from science history.
"Erudite, funny and well-researched, the audience lapped this up, responding well to the twists and turns of the charming Samantha’s mind... I laughed a lot, learned a great deal, found it entertaining, insightful and heartfelt too." ***** Brighton & Hove News (national tour show)
Wisebowm: The Struggle is Real
Laughing Horse Free Festival
Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Great to direct this musical character comedy show starring urban poet Wisebowm. (Latest: as of August 2018 we've landed a BBC Radio 4 pilot which I'm script editing).
"a tale of love, rhyme, and gluten. Performed by YouTuber and character comedian Steve Whiteley (known as Offkey Steve), this is a heartfelt and highly entertaining piece of modern storytelling, a hip hop love story of the Instagram age."
Katia Kvinge: Squirrel
Edinburgh Fringe 2016
I was delighted to direct offbeat rising star and Scottish BAFTA nominated character comedian Katia Kvinge (BBC, MTV) in her multi-character comedy show that mixed autobiographical revelations and absurdist gooning about.
"Katia Kvinge is half-Norwegian, half-American, and plays up the contrast, which may help explain why she's decided to perform two differing shows in one hour. One part is fun, if exhausting impressions, singing and all-out crowdpleasing; the second section is a more intriguing confessional side, with each giving further insight into the other. It's all delivered with genuine charm."
"Possessing oodles of energy, Katia Kvinge is not your average comedian." Female Arts
Eleanor Conway: Walk of Shame
Free Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe 2016
The Stand, Edinburgh Fringe 2017
National tour 2017.
John Gordillo and I both gave directorial input to this bold and outrageous stand-up show that told the story of Eleanor's life of partying, drug taking, working in porn (as an editor) and hanging out with the Triads in south east Asia. John helped her mine her life for the material and I worked on the story-telling and structure.
"A born storyteller and gifted stand-up, Conway reeled in the audience with her Walk of Shame show. A tale that many – in this audience at least – could relate to, but taken to new extremes."
Your Days Are Numbered: The Maths of Death
Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival 2012
Assembly Edinburgh Fringe 2010
I directed Matt Parker and Timandra Harkness in this comedy science show that debunked tabloid health scares and dodgy stats around death.
"The funniest closed-loop complex integral routine I've ever seen – they'll have you rolling in the aisle like an infinitesimal disk of radius epsilon." Simon Singh
"Like Robin Ince’s recent science-celebrating shows, this is – ahem – dead fascinating stuff, imparted with a light, unpatronising touch. It’s certainly not just for maths geeks – though you’d probably get a few more jokes if you are in that category… and feel slightly smug about it too."
Will Gompertz: Double Art History
Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe 2009
I directed Will, in the guise of a supply teacher, in a show that took the audience through 100 years of art history in an hour. "We are back in school literally behind desks in a classroom. The premise of the show is that the school's regular art teacher has suffered a nervous breakdown and a supply teacher has arrived to give the class its final push for a history of art exam... there is genuinely a test at the end before the class is dismissed and we leave, not just entertained, but genuinely having learned something new about modern art."
The Groen Brothers
Leicester Square Theatre, London 2012 & Amsterdam
Dutch brothers David and Simon Groen have sketches on Dutch TV and over 12 million YouTube views. I helped them rework their material for English speaking audiences and develop their TV and video work into multimedia shows for the stage seen in London and Amsterdam.
When we first met to discuss this one hour stand-up show, I asked Steve what his two big interests were. He responded: environmentalism and sex. And now we have a show that brings the eco world and shagging together. Forget Extinction Rebellion. This is SExtinction Rebellion.
The Yank is a Manc
Brighton Fringe 2019
Manchester Fringe 2019
Camden Fringe 2019
Edinburgh Fringe 2019
I directed and co-developed this true story stand-up show. While researching his ancestry online at home in Hollywood, Hopwood Depree stumbled upon Hopwood Hall. Built by his British ancestors in 1426, the 60-room mansion is falling down and Hopwood is now on a mission to save it!
Read all about it on bbc.co.uk
Just the Tonic
Edinburgh Fringe 2019
I directed award-winning comedian, writer and co-creator of Comedy Central's Modern Horror Stories, Daniel Audritt, in his much-anticipated debut hour.
Having previously written for 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, The Tez O’Clock Show, Mock the Week, Comic Relief, The News Quiz, Dead Ringers, NewsJack and many more, the show is punchline-heavy stand-up comedy show that questions love, relationships, modern masculinity and what it takes to be a good guy.
‘A WINNING WIT.’
The OS Map Fan Club
The Space, Edinburgh Fringe
& national tour 2018
I directed and supplied tons of gags to this comical and theatrical one woman show about... Ordnance Survey maps!
"a celebration of British eccentricity at its best and the national treasure that is the Ordnance Survey Map... educates, amuses and delights in equal measure"
"She’s a quintessentially English outdoor geek, with a wonderfully nerdy sense of humour that’s dry, droll and genuinely funny... The show has clearly been meticulously researched and is very well constructed, with signposts (the theatrical kind) moving the story effortlessly along during this entertaining hour." Fringe Review
Paul McMullan: Alocopop
Edinburgh Fringe 2016
I was brought in to apply a directorial touch to highly regarded stand-up Paul McMullan's debut hour at the Brighton Fringe and the Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh 2016. It was a candid tale about being an recovering alcoholic father (hence the title).
"Paul McMullan has a bottle of vodka poised on stage, an insurance policy in case the reformed alcoholic feels the crowd isn't responding positively enough to his debut hour... [which is] delivered with plenty of self-deprecation and baseline positivity, reinforcing its day-at-a-time takehome message with an uplifting conclusion."
Seb Lee Delisle: Hacked on Classics
The Lowry, Manchester
Week 53 Festival 2018
The Old Market Brighton 2018
Delighted to work with uber nerd and Laser Geek Seb on this wonderfully absurd mash up of 1980s tech and cutting edge laser technology. A true one off, I helped Seb structure the show and brought in a personal story telling element.
"I love 80s tech, and when you take it apart you can really appreciate its simplicity and elegance. The new show is full of exciting demos, including an interactive finale that will see the entire audience come together to form a virtual 80s band with glowsticks.”
In Tents & Purposes
Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Soho Theatre & national tour 2017
I was director of this ace, fast-paced comic play with two young female acting and writing talents, Roxy Dunn (Top Coppers/ Babylon) and Alys Metcalf (Royal Court Young Writers/The Play that Goes Wrong). Following a sell-out run at Edinburgh (it's official, we have the sell-out laurels from the Fringe), it went on a national tour in spring/summer 2017 and did a run it at Soho Theatre.
‘Daft enjoyable meta-theatre comedy.’
'One of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences I've encountered so far at the Fringe this year.'
Festival of the Spoken Nerd
Bloomsbury Theatre, London 2013, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012
Festival of the Spoken Nerd [video] is an acclaimed mix of science, comedy and geekiness. As director I helped them make the transition from pub gigs to the 550 seat Bloomsbury Theatre and worked on their first Edinburgh shows and many other performances.
"One of my favourite scenes had Mould and Parker wiggling a length of orange tubing in order to demonstrate oscillations and musical harmony."
Last of the Red Wine
ICA London 2011
Collaboratively written based on improvisation, The Last of the Red Wine was a radio sitcom about the art world. Daily public workshops and script readings in the gallery led to evening performances and a live radio recording in the theatre. Review
Conceived and produced by Sally O’Reilly alongside Chris Head, performed by Doug Fishbone, Cariad Lloyd, Kim Noble, Phil Whelans, Bedwyr Williams and more. The photo shows the recording night in the ICA. (The theme tune was played on wine glasses!)