Dubbed as the "pretty boy of comedy", standup comedian Axel Blake has been steadily leaving his mark on the comedy scene for the past decade on nothing else but raw talent and dedication.
Known for his captivating stage presence and hilarious video sketches, Axel's observational style of standup landed him his first headline gig this year, hosted by the one and only Edi Kadi. We catch up with the comedian to talk highlights from his first headline show, future projects and his journey to becoming a comedic sensation.
Describe yourself in three words or more?
Animated, observational and funny.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the ghetto of Twickenham, daily turf wars between pigeons and seagulls. It was close enough to hear Twickenham Stadium, apart from that I had to keep watching my back from the inevitable attack of hay fever, due to all the open fields. I later moved to Acton with my younger brother, Mum and Dad, which gave me an entirely new perspective, a stone throw away from South Acton estate, I had to quickly find myself and solidify my personality against the threat of peer pressure.
Where you the class clown growing up?
Most definitely, I remember one time my teacher Miss Brady called me out of the classroom to have a word with me, now bear in mind Miss Brady was the hottest teacher in the school, so before I walked back in the classroom I undone my belt, took off a shoe, ruffled my shirt and loosened a few buttons to make it seem like me and her were doing the mad ting and stumbled back in panting and the whole classroom erupted (laughs).
So who or what first got you into comedy initially?
Living off Def Jam comedy DVD in my teens, then actually seeing a comedy show live. That done it for me, I remember I was at Hackney Empire, Kojo and Slim were performing, that was the cherry on the cake. Never looked back.
What made you do your first comedy show in 2009 on Mother's Day?
My Mum always told me you don’t know until you try. I had enough of just saying I was going to try stand-up and not doing it, so the next show that came up I performed, I tricked my mum that I was taking her out for Mother’s Day but instead I took her to my first show, she wasn’t happy about that (laughs).
So at what moment did you realize you could make this comedy thing work?
Pretty simple, to be honest, I realised when people started laughing at my jokes, I mean that’s always a pretty good sign.
What is the greatest challenged you have faced on your journey to becoming a comedian?
The greatest challenge I’ve faced apart from trying to answer all these questions (laughs) is always trying to come up with new material and then even once you do, being scared to use it because you don't know if people will find it as funny as you did.
Tell us about your latest headline show at London's IndigO2 this past month, hosted by the legend himself, Eddie Kadi?
First I was shitting myself trying to sell it out, then once I did I was shitting myself having to perform to a sold-out crowd of people that had all come to see me, in fact, I’ve been shitting myself so much lately, I should probably get it checked out. Apart from that, it was the greatest birthday I could have hoped for and the big 3-0 too.
Where there any moments that stood out for you on the night?
It would have to be when my son came onstage and won the audience like he had been performing for years, I saw myself in my son then and realised he has a back for this.
What advice would you give to any up and coming comedians?
Stay out of my way, mwah. (smiles) But in all seriousness just don’t give up on yourself, no one ever said it would be easy but if you treat comedy as a craft and study and work at it every day, you’ll get there. Remember it’s a journey, not a destination, there is always room for growth and improvement.
You also work with UNILAD, how did that partnership come about?
I had a lunch date with one of the founders early on, it went super well, we saw eye-to-eye and it’s been amazing seeing their growth and them being a part of my own.
Can we expect any upcoming projects with UNILAD?
Yeah, just you wait and see!
And as a successful online content creator with your own viral sketches, where does the inspiration come from?
Everyday life inspires me, sometimes I would sit on the train studying life around me from the angry businessman clearly late for a meeting to the young kid trying to drop game to the girl sitting across from him.
Can fans expect any new sketches soon?
Definitely, I have something cooking in the pot now which should be big.
You are also a dad, does that inspire your comedy?
It never used to, I felt like my bond with my son was something I wanted to keep private but he’s such a big part of my life it’s hard to talk about my own life without him coming into it so at my headline show I happily let the inspiration flow through me, and I'm happy I did. So is he.
What would you say if your son also wanted to be a comedian?
I’d smile, shake his hand whilst putting a microphone in the other one and tell him “get to work son, go get em!”.
So what do you bring that's special?
My infectious smile and my observational style.
What ideas changed your life?
My Dad leaving my life and my son entering it.
What would you fill a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
I want to say water, but I know you want a different answer so I will just say sparkling water.
So what's next for Axel Blake in 2018?
I’m relaunching my comedy show Krazy Klub in September but besides that just you wait and see.
You can find Axel on Instagram // Twitter // YouTube