Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Interview with Comedian Jim Bayes

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Jim Bayes, a self-proclaimed ‘purveyor of comedy’ is a full time comedian who has made his name  on the comedy circuits in big cities SAM_0244like Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Sheffield and small towns such as Blackburn and Darwen. He’s made people laugh all over the country and is making himself a regular at the new, up and coming ‘World of Comedy’, where they just can’t get enough of him!

What makes Jim different from all the other comedians is that his set is a great mixture of one liner jokes, anecdotal jokes and taboo comedy. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon with those ‘easy’ stereotypical jokes that make fun of women, gay people and ethnic minorities, Jim puts a new spin on taboo jokes relating to sexuality, gender, race and religion, making homophobic and bigoted people the butt of his jokes.

His comedy is clever, funny and refreshing. The interview below gives you a bit more insight into Jim and if you want to know more or fancy checking out his comedy for yourself follow these links:
Twitter @jimbayes
Facebook https://m.facebook.com/jim.bayes.79

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Leeds the middle of 3 boys. My family were publicans and as a result I spent a lot of time in pubs in Otley which is a small town where Thomas Chippendale resided, our only other notable names are Olympic cyclist Lizzie Armitstead and Mike Tindall a rugga toff who I believe is also known for marrying a princess! My hobbies have always been varied, I like skiing but don’t get to do it that often or at least not on purpose, if snow falls heavily in Otley I can inadvertently find myself in a rapid downhill slalom narrowly missing sheep that look like moguls!

I have a pilot’s license that I obtained in the United States (I lived briefly in San Diego) but again it’s not a hobby I can just do whenever I want so the two main hobbies I have always had were Comedy (watching) and football (playing). I still have a regular kick about now in Yeadon close to Otley with the same group of guys I have known for years.

How did you get into comedy?
I got into comedy through my dad’s pub. Originally I ran a comedy night there as I loved stand up so much I wanted a regular show in my own workplace. I often chatted with the acts about how I wished I had the skill and nerve to perform stand up and often they told me to just try it, I really didn’t have the self-belief until the recession took away almost everything I ever owned. My dad’s business suffered as a victim of the credit crunch and when things like the smoking ban, the 2007 summer floods and the recession kicked in we buckled too and in 2010 I lost my home, job, car, dog (died) & girlfriend (moved to France!). Oddly enough this rock bottom feeling left me with the desire to use comedy as some kind of cathartic measure and so in 2011 I did a workshop and performed for the first time in Nottingham to all the other guys taking part in the workshop…. Instantly hooked! I officially began on March 5th 2012 and have gigged 2/3 times a week sometimes more ever since then.

When writing jokes and putting together a set, causing offense is sometimes a possibility, how do you avoid this?
Offense can never be totally avoided as its subjective; what offends you may not offend me, I know I have offended people with my dress sense in the past!

photo 2On a more serious note I try and ensure I do not make anyone a victim in my comedy other than myself. I have hidden points I try and make some times and these are often behind characters that I have embellished from true stories, one for example about male culture of just turning up in a pub and taking the attitude that women are there to pick off, involves me getting my comeuppance. However, I refer to a girl in this story as being large and some people only hear that and take offense. Whenever I write anything I consider how it may be perceived and aim not to offend, I don’t believe the idea that comedy is only funny if it’s offensive and I always look to ensure that I’m the fool at the end no matter what it is I’m trying to say.

Offense does not need to be a part of comedy at all however, many different acts are out there and some are able to create great comedy from situations that are offensive to most people. I would prefer if acts didn’t try to be edgy or offensive and just focused on funny but it will always be there and as long as the comic believes what they are saying then I guess it has a place.

Every time I have seen you perform you have had a great set, but my personal favorites of your jokes were those that focused on religion and sexuality. Many comedians find these topics taboo, what do you think about this?
Thanks for the lovely compliment, the piece I wrote about homophobia involves a religion that most of my family have a connection with, I can talk about this in a way that is not designed to belittle anyone’s belief and I would not dream of telling people religion is wrong or you must go to church. I am not here to preach I just used a religious figure to make my point as it’s really quite a simple leap. Sexuality should never be a taboo, if you have had an experience, and your sexuality, or that of someone you care about is part of that, then talk about it. I talk about homophobia because I was homophobic until I knew how narrow minded that was of me, once I had turned that corner my best friend was able to come out and it really saddened me that my views until I was 21 had caused him to keep a huge part of his life secret so as to maintain a friendship with me, this is one of the reasons I feel strongly about homophobia. I believe we can take huge strides making those less tolerant understand and so I like to talk about it in my comedy.

Do you believe that any topics should be taboo in comedy?photo 5
No. I don’t believe anything should be taboo, I do believe it’s the way a comedian goes about their chosen topic that makes the difference. Jokes about rape, cancer, child death, to pick three abhorrent topics, can all be done if the joke teller is not de-sensitising the subject or dismissing victims. Rape as not being a joke is something I see comedians support, this is a good honest stance but if you can make a rapist look like a complete fool, smash rape culture stereotypes and empower the victims rather than laugh at rape or make the victim look silly in anyway (something I deplore) then why not? It all comes back to not making victims in your comedy.

As comedians we have no right to assume we know best or take moral high ground that we haven’t somehow earned so it’s best despite all I have just said to leave writing about topics that could upset people until a time when you as a comic have total control on how your stuff is perceived, new acts just write jokes for now, funny ones if you could please 🙂

What is your favorite genre/topic to write comedy about?
My favorite thing to write about is any silly observation I can make. I have two favorite jokes. One compares a chicken to a type of person and the other is about a fancy dress fight, these come from things I saw and was able to twist in my silly head, there is no hidden meaning it’s just a funny thing! I like to write groan-worthy jokes and then try to top them or make them seem funnier within a subject and I like to write about myself in a caricatured way leaving license to go in directions that mean I stick to an anecdote within a piece of material. I also like to write something that makes a point that is a bit more subtle, I have an ageist rant that is actually about how we should stop being narrow minded and also look at population growth, some people just hear “old people should be euthanized” but that’s not what I’m really saying.

I like to write things down that I think about and then pad the narrative around it before stripping it back to try find the funny, sometimes I fail and have to spend a few days punishing myself by listening to radio 1 or drinking acid, neither of which I would recommend to anyone! Other times I write and write and write and things just seem to work. All in all, I’m a million miles from the finished article and will continue to work hard to be funny, not offensive, and to make audiences feel relaxed, not preached to, but that I spoke with some substance and above all with plenty of humor.

Twitter @jimbayes
Facebook https://m.facebook.com/jim.bayes.79

Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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