12 O’Clock with Sid Singh

It’s noon, and traveling comedian Sid Singh rolls out of bed onto my couch for our impromptu, yet very official, interview. Sid has been coming to Barcelona for years, making his rounds in the English comedy scene. He’s built up a following of fans who enjoy his observational, political, and even silly style of comedy. He’s worked on television shows for the BBC, such as Comic Relief, Muzlamic, and Modern Horror Stories. In 2023, he won the Edinburgh Fringe Comedian’s Choice Award and his show, Table for One, was nominated for the best show of the Fringe.

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And yet, he appreciates the Barcelona comedy scene so much that he sometimes visits for months at a time. What can our charming little scene offer him that others like London and New York don’t? “I think one of the things that Barcelona does well is the comics tend to have a sense of community outside the shows,” Sid explains. “I think I just have more drinking buddies in Barcelona.”

If there’s one thing we know about Barcelona, it’s that the people here love a good time. Not only does that come through off-stage as pro comics, new comics, and audience members blend together for after-show hangs, but it comes through during shows as well. Audiences are here to have a good time, and there’s plenty of opportunities for comedians to work through jokes onstage in front of eager audience members.

Sid’s been doing comedy for over 15 years. He started in San Diego and has been dipping his toes in scenes all over the world, from New York to San Francisco to London to Amsterdam to a whole bunch of other European cities. As a seasoned comedian and volunteer human rights lawyer, Sid now works his jokes out onstage, which newer comics don’t have the luxury of doing. “I come up with an idea and I talk it out on stage,” he shares. “One of the reasons I like Barcelona is because they have a lot of open mics. It’s helpful for a guy like me to just show up and be able to just talk out an idea. And then because I’ve done it for 15 years, I can normally get a few laughs even on the first try.”

But that’s just the beginning for Sid. For example, right now, he’s working on a joke between the similarities and differences between the political left and right. “The left is annoying, but the right is evil,” Sid jokes. “Pushing back as far as possible with current examples has been really fun.” And that’s where his comedy goes from the stage to the page and back to the stage.

“I use the stage time to sort of figure out, ‘Okay, well, where’s the interesting part of this and how do we keep pushing the idea to a place that might actually be worth putting in the proper show?” Sid urges newer comedians to do the same. He reminds us that the Barcelona comedy scene is still fairly new, and in many ways, all the comedians here could be considered “new” comics.

“I think what I see from a lot of young comics is the moment they get a laugh, they decide that it’s good enough and so they’re not trying to see if they can push it to make it funnier or more interesting,” Sid says. “And I would challenge younger comics to just write more, try different styles of comedy, and try to figure out what styles of comedy they can do, and see if they can figure out how to do it. To make themselves more well rounded.”

Seeing comedians try new things and push boundaries is what currently excites and inspires Sid. He loves touring comics like Mike Rice and Victor Patrascan. “Mike sort of has a lot of the Irish storytelling in him, but he also has sort of a Chicago mentality in it, which is really fun … Victor is trying to sort of do crowd work in a way that still creates actual bits from it, just focusing on the edges of the audience themselves, which I think is really interesting.” Comics like Mike, Victor, and Dragos have proven that we’re in an age where standup comedians don’t necessarily need an agent or manager to make a living.

This inspires Sid to see how he can combine the different styles of comedy he’s experimented with over the years. “It allows me to push myself artistically a little bit further than people would expect … I know how to do a traditional New York hour, but now I can push it to see what would happen if I combined a New York hour with an Edinburgh-type hour, which has been more story-based … I think that has been super helpful for me to push my own brand of stand up and learn what I can get away with.” 

Sid is known for his quick wit during improv shows, roast battles, and other format shows. But he only achieved that wit through taking risks and constant practice. Every comedian worth their salt has bombed at least once, but more likely many, many times. One of Sid’s worst-ever gigs was a bomb in front of 400 people, in which the booker didn’t book him again for seven or eight years. But Sid is proof that hard work pays off (because he did get booked again eventually!)

Of course, Sid’s funniest bad gig includes performing in a dungeon “where two pigeons flew in sort of having sex during the show.” Honestly, that sounds like an amazing gig, but we’ll take his word for it. Bad gigs and bombing are just a part of the craft. “If you’re not pushing yourself, why would you ever make something worth watching?”

Luckily, Sid is worth watching. And he’s performing his award-winning 2023 Edinburgh Fringe show, Table for One, at Golem’s Theater on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 19:30. You can buy tickets at Eventbrite. You can also follow Sid on Instagram for more updates on his shows around Barcelona, Europe, and the UK.

By Jamie Lerner – Barcelona 7/1/24

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