“You have to laugh about the ups and downs.” | Ben Hodge on finding space in comedy to be himself with no explanation

Tell us about you/your act.

I am a gay, transgender (ftm) man whose comedy centres around my experiences in the dating world as well as making light about my trans identity! 

How did you get into comedy?

I have always been the class clown and I enjoyed taking on the comedy roles in different musicals I was in. Then, when I started university I began to watch more comedy shows from people on the local circuit as well as other students. I became inspired to join the comedy society and have been obsessed with stand up ever since!

What’s the best gig you’ve ever had?

Definitely any gig I did whilst at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019. I did a 2-week run of a compilation show with other student stand-ups and it was the best experience ever. As a performer, it was such a great opportunity to get stage time and to also be involved in other people’s shows and make those connections for other gigs. It was the best experience of my life definitely

You’ve only been doing a comedy for a year, but you’ve already made a big impression on the local circuit. What is your plan to top this in 2020?

Thank you! I’m hoping in 2020 to branch out from the Manchester comedy circuit and try to gig around the country as much as I can (public transport permitting!). I’m also hoping to do way more gigs than I did in 2019 so I can improve. I also want to try and write a fresh new 5 minute set. I like my set now and have a solid 10 currently, but I want to try and push myself to find humour in as much as I can and use it to make an audience laugh!

You don’t shy away from telling personal stories. Is it ever difficult putting so much of yourself on stage?

Sometimes it can be. The difficulty is that I never know who’s in the audience. Gigs that I have done in quite manly pubs where a lot of the audience were big, buff (assumingly hetero) men, it can be worrying as you never know if someone would feel motivated to attack you after you out yourself on stage. But I’ve had nothing but positive reactions from all walks of life so I can only hope that people can find humour instead of hatred in who I am.

What is your trick to finding the funny side of some of the more intense stories?

The thing is, if I took everything that has ever happened in my life seriously, I’d just be in my room wallowing in my own self-pity. You have to laugh about the ups and downs, especially in terms of being transgender. It’s bloody hard to transition! NHS waiting lists ain’t no easy thing to be on. So laughing and making jokes about it makes it seem more bearable and less of a long waiting game. 

Also, hopefully it helps people to understand that trans people aren’t the SJW snowflakes the media makes us out to be. That we make just as many jokes about ourselves and if I can let my audience into that and help them understand a bit more, then jobs a good’un.

What’s your favourite thing about working in comedy?

My favourite thing about the circuit is definitely the community that is created. Bumping into people at multiple gigs and making friends with different comedians is very fun. Comedy is such a diverse industry and I have learnt so much about the world we live in because of comedy. Comedians are just some of the loveliest, most interesting people I know! Also the boost in Facebook friends isn’t too bad, as well! 

Who is your favourite comedian we’ve never heard of?

This is a tough one. Hmmmmm… See this is hard because I am a massive fan of people like Joe Lycett and Alan Carr and I binge 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown videos on YouTube most evenings. So a lot of comedians I like are currently ones on TV. I don’t know, come back to me on this one.

What challenges have you faced working in comedy?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is trying to get trusted public transport to gigs. I’ve not faced any challenges that other comedians wouldn’t face, I don’t think. Just trains are a nightmare when you want to travel for a gig!

How do you think that comedy as an industry can better address these issues?

Start the revolution on Northern Rail???

What appealed to you about being part of a show like Blizzard?

Blizzard is such a cool opportunity for me to be in a room where I don’t have to feel like my comedy is explaining myself. I’m expecting that the audience will have an understanding of trans identities so it will be more of me bouncing off an audience rather than having to hold their hand on this mad journey that is my life

What have you got coming up that we should look out for?

Well I’ll be doing the West Didsbury New Comedian competition at the end of Febraury and I will also hopefully be entering Chortle’s Student Comedy Competition.

Ben is joining us for our birthday livestream as a judge for our (No) Money in the Bank fan fiction writing competition on Monday 27th April.

Find out more here.

Donate to our fundraiser for Mustard Tree here.

Ben is performing at Blizzard on Monday 24th February.

Book your free ticket here.

You can keep up with Ben’s work by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

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