Jail term helps David Ward stretch his comedy routine

Far from denying his murky past, David Ward makes his time behind bars part of his act, writes Ben McPartland David Ward is asking his audiences not to be frightened to laugh during his one-man show at the Red Hedgehog in Highgate on Saturday (February 9). It

Far from denying his murky past, David Ward makes his time behind bars part of his act, writes Ben McPartland

David Ward is asking his audiences not to be frightened to laugh during his one-man show at the Red Hedgehog in Highgate on Saturday.

It seems a strange request for a successful comedian to make during a stand-up show but The Whole Truth And Nothing But is no ordinary routine.

Ward is promising a sensitive and truthful reflection of his chequered past, which includes a three-month stretch in Wandsworth prison.


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And for traditional fans of stand-up, he says he has thrown in a few good jokes for a laugh.

During the Edinburgh Festival, Ward purposefully performed in the afternoon because he did not want any loudmouth drunks turning up expecting old-fashioned coarse stand-up gags.

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"It is quite important that people know what they are coming to see," he says.

"I have been doing stand-up for about eight years and this is totally different.

"It's more story telling about my life and there's less pressure to get jokes in.

"The show is more about comedy theatre than traditional stand-up."

During its darkest moments, Ward returns to the time when he was locked up behind bars after being caught "borrowing" money from a safe to feed his gambling addiction.

"A few people have been to prison and others might have been close to going. But I think 99 per cent of people would want to know what it is like.

"Often the audience gets caught up in the tension of it. But if you look closely there are some strong jokes in there.

"The main thing is that I don't want them to be scared to laugh - even if you are the only one.

"We all have different senses of humour and that's fine.

"But I did have to take out some of the jokes because I could see that some people didn't actually want a gag at that point.

"They just wanted to know what happened."

And what did actually happen to the 42-year-old, who was born in the US but brought up in Middlesex?

"My addiction to gambling was like any addiction in that it took over my life.

"Everyone has their own weaknesses, whether it's drink, drugs, chocolate or buying shoes.

"That's how I ended up going to prison but nobody got hurt.

"I was just looking after a safe and I began to borrow the odd £50 quid with the intention of paying it back but it just got worse and worse.

"In the end, three months in Wandsworth was good for me.

"Life was so stressful before and I was able to take three months off without having to think for myself or worry about paying bills and getting three meals a day."

Naturally, Ward didn't find his spell inside particularly funny at the time, but he hopes his audiences will do now.

His show on Saturday night is his first performance since Edinburgh.

The venue, normally a setting for refined chamber music, may be an easy way to introduce the show to a more rowdy night time audience.

"I can deal with hecklers no problem - but once I am in the middle of the story I cannot come out. We'll see, I am a little apprehensive."

o The Red Hedgehog, on Archway Road, is the new location for the famous Finsbury Park Red Rose Comedy Club which closed down last month. For more details and tickets, call 07963 618 333 or log on to www.redrosecomedy.co.uk.

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