Norfolk comic Tom Moran’s elusive joke

Norwich comic Tom Moran is becoming a growing name on the comedy scene. CLAIRE MILNER-SMITH met him as he preapres for the biggest gig of his life.

Stand-up comedian and playwright Tom Moran has a recurring dream that refuses to go away. 'I'll be in the middle of my set and come out with the funniest joke in the world, everybody stands up and claps, it's fantastic, but then I wake up and, even if I remember the joke, it's absolute rubbish and doesn't make any sense,' said Tom.

The 24-year-old UEA drama graduate, who lives off Newmarket Road in Norwich, could be forgiven for having a few sleepless nights.

Next month Tom will have his highest profile performance to date when he comperes the Christmas Comedy Cracker at Norfolk Showground featuring, among others, Jason Manford; one of the hottest names in British com-edy.

More used to performing in front of a few hundred, at the very most, rather than 3,000 people this would be daunt-ing prospect for any stand-up comedian, let alone a man who doesn't actually enjoy doing stand-up.

However the biggest public test of his burgeoning career to date — introducing a high profile bill that also includes Mock The Week regular Milton Jones and music comedy group OLE! — has the potential to propel Tom into the next league.

'I enjoy being a stand-up comedian, I enjoy writing material…and I enjoy leaving the stage; there's no better feeling, it's pure joy but it's what you have to go through to get there that I don't like,' says Tom.

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'Before I go on, I can't talk to anyone, I shake, I feel sick and the only place I want to be is in bed, under the duvet, curled up in the foetal position.

'But then you finish and, if you've done a good set, the feeling is amazing, it's like you've downed 12 coffees, been told you've won the lottery and you'll live forever, and all in the space of 5 minutes.

'The gig at the showground will be the biggest audience I've performed to, and I'm very excited to be involved. I really want to impress and I'm determined to make it the best thing I've ever done.'

Tom, who moved from Devon to Norwich to study at the UEA and in doing so met his wife, Jemma, has spent the last few years making a name for himself in stand-up comedy as well as writing his first full-length play, Writer's Block, which had its premiere at the UEA Drama Studio last month.

Even though he dabbled in a bit of drama at school, he's quick to point out that he was never the class clown.

'They're usually the kids who make stupid noises and throw things around in class, rather than create witty jokes and well structured anecdotes,' he explains; it was while studying drama at the UEA that he became involved in stand-up.

From there, he began hosting his own open mic nights, setting up the regular Norwich comedy night, Laugh Out Loud in the process, and travelling far and wide to do 15 minutes of stand-up, including a 21-night run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

In between gigs he spent the last three years writing, albeit on and off finishing Writer's Block. Produced by Scott Brown and directed by Ant Cule, an up and coming director and Edinburgh Fringe Festival regular, it's a comedy about a successful novelist named Douglas Briggs.

Just for the record, Tom doesn't suffer from writer's block. In fact, such is the plentiful supply of ideas, jokes and material that, with the exception of the recurring dream, he carries around a notebook to catch that perfect gag when it comes along.

'Jokes and storylines come to me when I'm walking somewhere, having a shower or trying to go to sleep. Sometimes, when I'm trying to get to sleep, I start thinking about my play or my stand-up and I'll come up with a rou-tine but then I wont be able to go to sleep because I'll have to write it down so I don't forget it.'

? Tom Moran will be appearing at the Christmas Comedy Cracker at Norfolk Showground on December 9, �30, 01362 654848,