Ben Kavanagh was born in Dulwich, grew up in Dulwich, went to school in Dulwich and still lives in Dulwich. Not the backstory you think would lead to a career in comedy. Not so. After enjoying drama at school Ben says, ‘It was when I started writing my own songs that I realised comedy was what I wanted to do.’ Now that is funny, writes Michael Holland.
At university in Leeds where he studied history, Ben began taking his comedy more seriously: ‘I did some sketch and improv at university, and finally took the plunge about halfway through my degree… My first proper gig was a gong show – which I managed to beat – but I didn’t start gigging properly until near the end of my final year.’
When Ben returned to London after finishing his degree, he made a big decision: ‘I decided at this point to give comedy a go as a career, because I knew it was what I wanted to do.
This young comedian has sharpened his skills by doing 3-4 shows a week since graduating in 2015, and supporting that gigging with jobs in call centres and restaurants, so I reckon he has paid his dues now: ‘I’ve done every type of gig ranging from the nice, professional clubs and town halls to the corners of local bars, tiny rooms and even a fish restaurant.’
Ben’s parents have been very supportive of what he does and go to a lot of his gigs. Hopefully not to heckle! Plus, Ben has creative discussions about work with his writer mother, which must help enormously.
But now Ben feels the borough needs a new comedy night. He explains, ‘Looking at the history of comedy in South London, there used to be a few venues that hosted the likes of Harry Hill, Jo Brand, Micky Flanagan, Jack Dee, etc. However, in recent years there have been very few regular nights for new, up-and-coming comedians…This is disappointing to me as I know how important it is to have somewhere that you can hone your skills in front of an audience. What’s more there is a definite demand for comedy in this area right now, and a lot of comedians able to supply it!’
This young man is on a mission to right these wrongs. ‘My aim,’ he declares, ‘is to build a welcoming monthly gig where new comedians that I know and like can perfect their sets, and where pro comedians can drop in and try out new material.’
Sounds good to me. And this keen comedian has already booked the acts for his first East Dulwich Comedy night. So far Mickey Overman, will be headlining, Adrian Tauss, Kat Sadler and Elie Kraft are confirmed, and more acts will be announced shortly. Ben himself will be the compere for the evening.
East Dulwich Comedy’ at the Cherry Tree, 31-33 Grove Vale, SE22 8EQ. Time Saturday 27th October 7.30pm. Admission: Free.
Main photo: Ben Kavanagh