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Funny Man

Nathan Caton’s been around the comedy scene since he emerged as a fresh-faced 19-year-old. A decade later, he is a familiar act on the television and the comedy circuit. Sorted caught up with him to talk about his comedy, faith and Brentford FC.

By Martin Leggatt

You’d probably recognise Nathan from his appearances on popular comedy shows Mock the Week, Russell Howard’s Good News and Live at the Apollo. For me it came as a surprise when I chatted to him that he’d also written for the popular CBBC programme Rastamouse, but when he explained how he’d got the gig, “Yeah, that was lots of fun. They needed someone to write with authentic West Indian patois” it made more than obvious sense. We share a laugh when I tell him about a friend, in his mid-50s, very middle-class and a solicitor to boot, who was addicted to the children’s programme. “I often find that there are more fans of the show who are adults without kids than adults with kids,” he laughs. Why does he think that is? “It was fresh and different, the West Indian character…so many were hooked.”

The Rastamouse gig came about through a connection at Paramount Comedy (now Comedy Central), a channel that also piloted his Nathan Caton Show. Sadly, the show didn’t pan out to a series but to Nathan there were far more positives to be taken away from the experience. “Yeah, it was back when I was young, a lot of fun at the time when I was still finding my voice,” he tells me, before explaining that it gave him a lot of material that he has developed for his act. How he invented lots of his characters, he would “dress as a woman, a teenage kid and a wannabee MC” and all this gave him little sketches that he developed to use in his act.

Are you looking forward to your upcoming tour Straight Outta Middlesex (which starts in October and takes in various venues nationwide). 

Yeah, it’s great man. I do a one hour solo comedy show. I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s a shame you’re not from Kensington – you could’ve called it Straight Outta Brompton [He likes this a lot; I hope that he doesn’t nick it for his act.]

Yeah, exactly. A lot more gangster – there’s lots of green where I’m from, although we’re talking weeds, not that kind of weed.

Is it hard work?

The tour? The hardest part is all the travelling around. The rest is just my job. I’m always writing material, but no, I’m more excited, looking forward to it. When people come to the show they don’t see the hours on the train, bus or stuck in a car. There’s a lot to it.

A lot of hotels and driving?

Yeah, but I don’t want be stuck in an office, definitely not designing buildings [he has a degree in architecture].

Any more weird encounters in hotels with people recognising you?

Oh man, I’m not looking forward to any of those. It’s kinda good; it gives me a lot of material. No, mostly just strange randoms taking pictures of me and posting them on Twitter.

What do you prefer – stand-up or TV shows?

Both. I’ll always be a stand-up comedian, it’s my bread and butter, I’ll never abandon it TV and radio [he has his BBC R4 show, Can’t Tell Nathan Caton Nothing] are fun, but I’ll always be a stand-up comedian.

What has been your toughest crowd?

When I was younger I did a really tough gig in London, where I’m from – it was in a cricket ground after a rock concert. I came on to this hostile crowd that were all moshing and expecting more rock music and lasted for five minutes. It was meant to be 25 minutes. Another guy, a really experienced comic, was meant to go on but he left, he didn’t even go on. So I came off stage and went straight outside for a taxi, it was really hostile. And I could hear it all quiet inside and then I heard someone on the mic saying “That comedian was pants!” and I’m outside thinking, “Man, this taxi needs to come quick!”

Have you ever had trouble with hecklers?

Nothing really, just the weirdest… Nothing harsh, just weird, tongue-in-cheek stuff. Although since the EU referendum I’ve had the odd shout of “Go home” and I’m like, man, I’m from London. Just silly stuff really, nothing brutal. I remember being on stage and a mobile phone went off and I’m looking to see who it is so that I can engage them and it’s my uncle sat in the second row – my family were all there to give support – and he answered the phone! In the middle of my gig! Yeah, thanks for the family support.

Do you find any conflict between what you do and your faith?

No conflict as such. Some people will ask, “Are you a Christian?” My answer is I’m a comedian on a stage, just telling jokes. Some people think because you’re a Christian or have a faith you can’t be funny. I say just chill out, relax, enjoy the comedy.

Talking of which, who makes you laugh?

Lots of comedians; Rob Deering, he combines music and comedy, he’s really funny; Carl Donnelly, Reg D. Hunter, he makes me laugh a lot. There are a whole lot of great comedians out there.

Who influenced you as a comedian?

Growing up? Eddie Murphy. All his stand-up stuff, the video Delirious, all my family were watching him, although I was too young. I’d be playing and could hear them laughing so I’d see bits of it, watching snippets. Lenny Henry as well. He was the black British comedian. We could relate to what he was talking about. He was, still is, a very funny guy. Then there was Robin Williams, an absolute master, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Dave Chappelle. Chapelle and Carlin, they could make you think as well as laugh. You could watch them and laugh while thinking about some deep stuff.

Nathan Caton’s Straight Outta Middlesex tour starts 8th October at locations nationwide. Visit nathancaton.com for further details.