A BIRMINGHAM-born comedian who once worked as a security guard at the Hammersmith Apollo said returning to the venue to do his set was one of his most memorable moments of his career so far.
Darren Harriott, who comes to Artrix on February 2, said it was great to be greeted by the people he used to work with who had seen his name on the bill for the prestigious Live at the Apollo.
“Playing there is an absolute dream – it is everything you want it to be and more.
“I got a buzz like no other after that and when I got back home there was a P45 waiting for me from one of my other security jobs.
“It definitely put things into perspective.”
As well as Live at the Apollo, he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival in the summer and had appearances on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central (Comedy Central), The Now Show (BBC Radio 4), and Fighting Talk (BBC Radio 5 Live).
Darren, who is now 29, said: “I started the comedy when I was 18 but didn’t have much life experience so did not have much to talk about.
“It’s much better now, although I have been on Groupon lately looking at experience days and thinking ‘A helicopter ride – I bet that would give me five or ten minutes to talk about’.
“It is such a mad career choice.
“I think as a comedian you are never truly happy – the gig will go well but when you watch it back you will see things and say ‘I could’ve done that better’ or ‘I should’ve done something different there.”
“And you’re only as good as your last performance which works two ways – on the one hand if it goes well you’re good for the next one but if it goes bad you have to get straight back on the stage again and put it right.”
Darren lives in London now but grew up in Oldbury where he had what many would consider a difficult upbringing.
He and his brother were mainly brought up by him mum and did not see much of their dad as he was in and out of prison.
He said: “It was tough but we did not really see it like that at the time.
“Most of the black boys at my school did not have a father figure and for the one who did, his mum was dating a guy aged 20 and he was 14.
“Two of my mates had never even met their dad and I think there was just one of us who had a married mum and dad who were together.
“My mum brought us up brilliantly and we had our aunties and uncles around as well.
“I never really appreciated how much my mum did for us until I was older.
“Me and my brother always wanted to look cool and have the best £100 school shoes and she had a normal job so she couldn’t afford it.
“We never had the most expensive shoes but we would have the next best.
“She would buy things from the catalogue and pay them off monthly and I only recently found out that she went into £1,000 worth of debt.
“She’s in her early 50s now and I want to work as hard as I can to make her life easier because of all she did for us.”
In March 2000 when Darren was 11 and months before he was due to start secondary school they received the call that his dad had committed suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell.
“That was really tough with the emotions I was already going through at that time but it was what it was.”
Darren said looking back he realised the importance of boys having a father figure whilst growing up.
When asked about the levels of knife crime in London he said: “I truly believe these boys in gangs having father figures or a role model to look up to would reduce it by 80 per cent.”
Darren makes a lot of social comment and observation during his show but steers away from politics.
“I think people have had enough of politics lately – I want to offer them a break from Brexit.
“Being from Birmingham I have been to Bromsgrove a couple of times but have never played Artrix.
“I’m really looking forward to it and it will be the day after I have played Birmingham so it will be a nice part of the tour for me.”
Darren Harriott: Visceral is suitable for those aged 16 and over and starts at 8pm in the Artrix studio.
Tickets, which are £15, are available by visiting artrix.co.uk or by calling 01527 577330.
The gig has been rescheduled from November 17 and original tickets are valid for this performance.
Visit www.darrenharriott.com for more on Darren Harriott and his shows, follow him on Twitter @DarrenHarriott or search for him on Facebook.