Interview with writer, comedian & compere Lewis King

I was lucky enough to share my MA experience with writer Lewis King. He brings fun and enthusiasm to everything he does, and will be hosting an hour of our 12 Hour Charity Open Mic on 28th May.

I chat to Lewis King about his involvement with the Leeds creative community…

How long have you been writing / compering?

I was actually an “artist” and a “musician” before a writer. I drew constantly as a child and made fobbed off cartoons and characters of things I loved. I then moved onto actually writing when I was about 11-12 and through my teens wrote little stories, comedy sketches and played bass in a garage band. I think for years I wanted to perform comedy but was always too shy.

I ended up doing my first stand up gig in 2012 when I was 20 and immediately caught the performing bug. I was terrible but kept ploughing on gigging and performing things. I started compering when I was asked to host a semi-regular night that turned into WordSpace, our monthly open mic in Horsforth. I think I was asked after one particular performance where I performed this rap/performance poetry piece. It was about the time I was at a house party and had to go for a wee in the dark because the toilet light didn’t work. I haven’t raise the tone since then!

Do you find the Leeds art scene more encouraging for new writers?

If I’m honest I can’t personally compare it to anywhere else, as I’ve stuck to this scene pretty much. Even though I have gigged around I mianly do stuff in Leeds now as I’m running a few things too. But I can say that I’ve seen loads of new writers, many who did some of the early gigs at WordSpace, who have grown into fully flourished performers.

What’s your favourite piece of writing and why?

Damn you don’t make this easy do you!? I have a few books that I endlessly get a lot out of reading: Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, books of Charlie Brooker’s articles, anything by Jon Ronson, a lot of stuff by Irvine Welsh as well, who wrote Trainspotting. I love his books because of the voices – they’re often in Scottish dialect – and because he crafts absolutely awful characters that you still root for.

My day job is copywriting, so I’m also keen on reading writing that achieves a lot with very little. For example I keep reading the bits on the back of bottles of soap from Lush or the back of beer bottles. I really like writing that can seem specific but is also ambiguous, and weaves moods and messages that all relate to the audience. Pretty much poetry, but not in the form of a ‘poem’. It will sound odd but I read Horoscopes and writing like this to give me ideas for work. I keep flicking through this book called The Language of Birthdays, which is basically a Horoscope for every day of the year.

So, the short answer is: I don’t have a favourite. There are too many great pieces of writing and also I’m quite fickle, I often get excited by new things.

Here’s the cliche… describe yourself in 3 words

Loud, easily confused. 

Why should people attend the 12 Hour Charity Open Mic?

I haven’t seen any other event like this. It’s a great way of showcasing the wide range of creativity in Leeds. You’re likely to find your new favourite writer/performer if you go along, even for a few hours. You can discover so much from other people, meet new folks, form new collaborations and do your bit for a wonderful charity.

Catch Lewis King on 28th May – the event is happening at Brooklyn Bar, Leeds from 11am-11pm.

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