“Even if you only reach one person a night it’s worth it.” | Dan Webber talks community, identity and his show Genre Fluid

Photo by Andy Hollingworth.

Tell us about your show, Genre Fluid.

Genre Fluid is a study into labels in the arts, in everyday life and the LGBTQ+ community, it’s a show about gender, identity, sexuality and not quite fitting in.

What made you want to put on a show exploring labels and identity?

It’s something I’m very interested in. I’ve always written about not only the labels (or lack there-of) we choose for ourselves but the labels and stereotypes which are thrust upon us.

I’d been performing for around 2 years by this point and still wasn’t sure what I was, there’s a point in the show where I talk about not being funny enough to be a comic, not being serious enough to be a poet, not queer enough to be a queer artist and nowhere near straight enough to be a straight act.

I was getting told at comedy gigs I was a poet and being told at poetry nights I was a comedian and was just finding the whole thing very confusing and frustrating.

I felt under a lot of pressure to define what I did, and from conversations around this, the term ‘Genre Fluid’ was coined and developed from not only looking at my professional life but my personal life.

While I understand how integral labels are to some people, being open about myself and my sexuality was always something I’d struggled with, writing and performing really helped me to address this.  

These topics are typically very personal. How close to home does the show get?

Incredibly so actually, towards the end of the show I talk about mental health and there was a night on stage in Edinburgh I got quite emotional, I think it just hit me how lucky I was to be doing this.

I’ve always been a believer of leaving the audience with hope but also that nothing is off-limits on stage. I describe my work as a mix between Bill Hicks, Tim Minchin and Frankie Boyle. It’s a brutally honest show which really hope it makes people think or look at things from another point of view.

Has it been difficult breaking into those personal topics in front of audiences full of strangers?

Weirdly it’s been easier, someone described the show as ‘Part TED talk’ and that’s a really fair description, I find it easier talking about some topics on stage than I do face to face in some instances.

I love the saying that you write for the person in the room who needs to hear it, and even if you only reach one person a night it’s worth it.

How did you decide to merge comedy with poetry?

I started off doing comedy, so it’s very much my safe place because you instantly know if the audience are enjoying themselves (or not!). Comedy is also a great gateway into discussing more serious topics. Making the audience at ease with a few funny pieces and then breaking out the more serious stuff, seems to really work for me.

What about the mix of those two arts made you feel they were a good fit for these themes?

There is an honesty and a frankness in poetry and stand-up comedy you don’t get in any other art form. It’s a bare stage, one person and one microphone, which I think encourages people to share stories and audiences to listen.

There’s a wonderfully supportive nature in the poetry scene and as people are becoming more vocal and visible in the community, we are beginning to have more open conversations and performances.  

One of the things I love most about poetry nights is you never know what you are going to get next, every performer is different and one moment you could be laughing and the next weeping.

Has writing and performing the show taught you anything about identity that you’d be okay sharing with us?

Loads, identity is a massive subject. It’s a relatively new subject and it’s something people are quite rightly very passionate about, not for a second is the show supposed to be a be all and end all summary of this, and I know for a fact my experiences and opinions have been very different to other peoples, but I hope if nothing else it’s serves as a conversation starter.

What do you hope people take away from your show?

That however you identify, label or not, it’s absolutely fine.

Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Funny Things festival?

Poets, Pratters and Pandemonialists is a night I’ve heard very good things about and having seen Fantabulosa at Derby Feste I highly recommend.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into comedy?

Keep doing it, remember why you are doing it and do it for the love, and if you’re anything like me there’s some weeks where you may want to quit at least two or three times

Also keep a note pad with you or write on your phone any good ideas jokes etc you have, or anything that comes to you and try them out on your friends, if it’s not funny its better to hear it from them than from a room full of people.

Dan is performing Genre Fluid on October 28th.

Book your ticket here.

Find out more about the Funny Things Comedy Festival here.

You can keep up with other things Dan has going on by following him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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